By Rick Riozza
Well—every year, it seems that the 19 Crimes “syndicate” has a new wine on the market that gets to play off the “bad boy” or “bad girl” personage that attracts the new wine enthusiast in the family.
In recent years, we’ve covered the panoply of criminal characters that appeared and named on the 19 Crimes Wine portfolio of Treasury Estates Wines. We’ve done “High Wine Crimes & Misdemeanors” in 2017 where we brought our readership up to speed on the different wines, and recently in 2020 in “Snoop Dog Uncorked” we covered the Compton rapper who really watches over the wine production up in Lodi for his red wine blend.
The wine review website “Mashed” has recently written: “While wine and crime don’t seem intrinsically linked, 19 Crimes wine has somehow bridged the gap and formed a fun connection that includes interactive content. The wine brand’s labels pay homage to criminals of yesteryear … and some more recent ones.
“Each bottle is branded with a criminal who was banished to Australia from England between 1788 and 1868. At the time, there were 19 crimes that could result in a criminal being sent to the island, and each is represented on one of the wine corks – an obvious bonus if you like collecting sets.
“The brand seems intent on appealing to a different type of wine drinker. And with their 2019 partnership with Snoop and most recent collaboration with Martha Stewart, their message is loud and clear — 19 Crimes wine is for rule-breakers. Wine aside, customers can download an app and unlock a world of interactive content. Just hold the app up to the bottle to see it come to life and hear the main character’s story. It’s an interesting gimmick and works well as a party trick, but how does the wine taste?”
So I guess it’s again time to taste through some of the new “criminal” wine versions & vintages that are out preying on our wine shelves.
Snoop Dogg Cali Rosé ($9) First off—do notice the spelling of “ROsé” and that’s exactly how Snoop Dogg pronounces his stuff. Anyway—so Snoop partnered with 19 Crimes again for the Cali ROsé which is mainly made from Zinfandel, with some Grenache, and, Pinot Noir that’s blended in for balance. This ROsé has a lively pink color and around 10.5% alcohol, which makes it a pleasant and light sipping wine—if you like it on the sweet side.
I’ve always considered this column to egalitarian. Many of the folks I hang with mostly enjoy the dry stuff. But there are more and more of you readers—especially our newbie wine crowd, who are interested in the sweet fruit flavors of the new line-up of wine out there. And of course, we wish to cover these wines as well.
Cheap Wine Finder describes the aromas as “nectar sweet black cherry, strawberry, light watermelon, soft spice, and a little vanilla, and it tastes nice. The review adds that the wine isn’t especially complex, but it tastes nice. My advice is to chill up the wine big time and have some hot, spicy & gooey ribs along with it.
19 Crimes Hard Chard ($9). The first thing to realize about this wine is that the alcohol is at 16%. That’s a full-bodied wine, which usually means it could take down a steak big time. But it’s a Chardonnay!! The good news is that it is well balanced with a lemon and honey-type acidity. It’s very good if you enjoy the buttery-type of Chard that was the rage a few years ago. I still get a lot of customers desiring this type of Chardonnay, and the fact that it is high in alcohol gives the wine a Santa Barbara Chard feel.
A Note of Interest: The bottle label features Jane Castings, a mother of four who was sent to Australia from England after arranging for a group of teenagers to steal cheese and bacon for her. It’s been said that, ironically, the stolen goods in question would pair nicely with this wine. Cheers!
Circling back to the Snoop Dog line-up, we just tasted the new vintage of the Cali Red ($9). The wine is a blend of Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, and Merlot grapes, hailing from Lodi, California.
Honest Wine Reviews describe the wine as a “nicely balanced red blend, with notes of black cherry, vanilla, and candied raspberry.” There’s some residual sugar that manifests as sweetness on the tongue.” Well—ditto that. Indeed, this is the wine for the full frontal fruit group. But hey—I poured a little into my wine carafe filled with dry Argentinian wine to match my pork ribs, and it surely did the trick.
It’s been said, “Even if you aren’t into the wine, hip-hop fans will love having a bottle with Snoop on it. As with all the 19 Crimes wine labels, it’s also interactive. So if you close your eyes and imagine hard enough, it might actually feel like you’re having a glass of wine with Snoop.”
And finally, For the 19 Crimes’ latest celebrity wine, enter Martha Stewart, who notoriously spent 5 months in prison in 2004 for insider trading. 19 Crimes Martha’s Chard is a California Chardonnay that for some mean reason, I wasn’t expecting much to like. I sound like a hater—yeah? but the wine is actually a bit more complex than we would have thought.
Indeed!—I like the wine, and I’m not a big “reasonably priced” Chard lover. The price here is reasonable at $10 and the wine shows inviting flavors of green apple, lemon, lime, orange blossom honey and a touch of butterscotch. This is a very nice lemony and fresh style of Chardonnay. It carries such a great layer of acidity, I will keep this around the kitchen as a cooking wine. But of course—it’s Martha Stewart. Cheers!