Wine Time: Troublemaker Blend 3, Paso Robles

COST: $17-19


WHAT: Every wine drinker has a few go-to wines that you know will be good and suit all your guests. Troublemaker is one of mine. It never fails to please.

This is the third time winemaker Austin Hope has created this southern-Rhone style blend, mixing vintages as well as varietals. And this is his third big hit.

Beautiful black cherry and licorice aromas arise out of the deep red wine in the glass. Swirl it a few times and more aromas are released. The flavors start with bright red fruit in an exuberant style that you think might not have much behind it.

But as the wine warms and opens in the glass it reveals a powerful intensity and depth, with a silky, layered elegance. While you could get carried away talking about the complexity and character, you can tell by its name that this wine doesn’t take itself too seriously. Austin Hope set out to create a nice bottle of wine that can be enjoyed in many settings. The price allows you to have it with burgers as well as elegant meals.

I would open the bottle 20 minutes before you drink it, and if you store it in a wine cellar, allow it 20-30 minutes to come up to room temperature.

This blend is 55 percent Syrah, 20 percent Grenache, 20 percent Mourvedre and 5 percent Petite Sirah, all grown in Paso Robles. The grapes are from the 2009 and 2010 vintages. Mixing vintages allows the winemaker to create even more complexity, blending in characteristics from one vintage that might be missing from another. I’m looking forward to trying this wine in another 2-3 years because it should continue to get better.

Troublemaker won a gold medal at the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

WINERY: When the Hope family moved to Paso Robles in 1978 to grow grapes, they made farming quality fruit a top priority. They became one of a handful of pioneering families who helped shape the region that has gained widespread recognition for quality.

At first their fruit was bought mainly by wineries outside the region. Then in the early 1990s, the family began producing estate wines under the Hope Family Farms label. They decided that Paso Robles was better suited to produce bold red wines that can compete on an international level.

Their other high quality labels are Liberty School, Austin Hope, Treana and Candor (which also features blends of multiple vintages). Austin Hope also takes an innovative approach to marketing his wines. When the first Troublemaker blend came out, it was called “Westside Red, Troublemaker.” Westside Red was in larger type.

The winery also produced a hilarious video about how the wine got its name and put it on YouTube. The name is catchy, but it’s the great taste of the wine that keeps you coming back.

QR codes are placed on the back of the Candor bottles. Scanning the codes with a smart phone takes you to videos: “Pairing with Pork” on the Zin and “How to Pair a Duck” with the Merlot. They are funny, entertaining videos, but they get important points across about the wines.

The winery also built a beautiful tasting room that is open on Friday and Saturday and by appointment on Thursday.

GOES WITH: Teri and I enjoyed this with homemade vegetable beef soup and with beef nachos that we threw together with leftovers. It was terrific with both dishes. The lively fruit nicely balanced the sharp flavors in the nachos. With soup the complexity and layers of this Rhone blend really stood out, mixing well with all the flavors in the soup.

It would go great with burgers and pizza, a nice beef Strogonoff, pot roast or lamb chops.


FEB. 2
Wine and tapas tasting,
5-6:30 p.m., La Maison on Telfair, 404 Telfair St.; four wines and three tapas, $19.99; (706) 722-4805

FEB. 3
Wine and beer tasting,
4:30-6:30 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; price dependent on flight selection; (706) 922-WINE

FEB. 4
Wine and beer tasting,
1-6 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; price dependent on flight selection; (706) 922-WINE
Wine tasting,
5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; three white wines, three red wines, cheeses, $5 with $3 rebate on purchase of featured wine; (803) 279-9522

FEB. 6
Wine tasting,
5:30 p.m., Ninth Street Wine Market, 12 Ninth St. Valentine’s Day theme, sparkling wine; Kunde Wines representative and Kenefick Vineyard owner Dr. Thomas Kenefick present; reservations required, (706) 724-1442

FEB. 7
Wine dinner,
7:30-9:30 p.m., Casa Bella restaurant, 120 Chesterfield St. SW, Aiken; Italian foods and wine; $60 Tasters Guild members, $65 others; reservations, Wine World, (803) 279-9522

FEB. 8
Wine tasting,
6 p.m. Bee’s Knees, 211 10th St.; wines paired with food from the kitchen; $15; reservations, Ninth Street Wine Market, (706) 724-1442

FEB. 11
Wine tasting and barbecue cook-off,
noon-5 p.m., Lake Olmstead Stadium; $20, proceeds benefiting First Tee of Augusta. Tickets available at Fat Man’s Riverfront Cafe, Fireside Outdoor Kitchen & Grills, Fleet Feet and The First Tee of Augusta.