The 2011 Dearly Beloved I Thee Red is a Trader Joe’s $7.99 exclusive (last years Forever Red sold for $6.99) sourced from Merlot, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Cabernet Franc farmed in the Central Coast grape growing AVA of California. The 2009 Dearly Beloved Forever Red was produced by Mendocino Wine Group, who make Parducci Cellars and Paul Dolan wines, the Dearly Beloved I Thee Red is produced by RB Wine Associates who operate Rack and Riddle a custom contract winemaker who also operate the only custom Sparkling wine facility in California. The grapes for the Forever Red were sourced from Mendocino, while the I Thee Red come from the Central Coast, so the two bottlings should be very different, except they both share the very cool Mexican Day of The Dead painted on label. The I Thee Red has an alcohol level of 13.5%.
The color is raspberry jelly red. The nose is cherry, spice drop candy, newly mown lawn, spearmint gum and oak spice. This is a much lighter wine than you would expect from the grapes that were used. It tastes of blackberry juice, strawberry, tea, softer Altoid spice and cranberry. The mid palate throws blueberry and dried fig into the mix. The tannins and the oak give a slight dry feeling in the back of your palate, nothing major, just a slight tug. The finish is on the astringent side, but does last and last.
The Dearly Beloved I Thee Red has arrived just in time for Halloween parties, it is not quite luscious enough to compete with other under 10 buck Red blends, but the label kicks their butts. The I Thee Red drinks just fine, but if I were looking for an inexpensive Red blend, there are 10 other wines I would pick before this one. But if I need wine for a costume party in October, then the I Thee Red is near the top of the list.