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A big brand

The 19 crimes that got criminals banished to Australia in the 1800s (Photograph supplied)

A quick explanation.

Early each week I hand in my text to The Royal Gazette and, as the layout in the actual newspaper varies from week to week, they often change my heading for the story to fit their page. I suspect they also do it if they want to go for a more attention-grabbing title. No worries, as they leave the text as I have written. Chances are that they will change it this week as my version is “A Big Brand”.

I have never quite figured out why it is that we are big-brand buyers when it comes to aspirin, face tissues, cereal and so on, but when it comes to wine, we so often seek out the small producer that no one has heard of. I must admit that they are unique and often wonderful, but the truth is that they are not the wines that I used to describe as “the wines that paid for my sons’ education”. These big sellers account for the largest case volume of sales. I must emphasise that successful brands cannot be created unless they offer well-made and consistent quality and value, as buyers are astute and not easily fooled!

I have chosen to write about 19 Crimes today. When their original Red Blend was introduced, I was flabbergasted by its acceptance and sales volume. We ended up ordering a full container each time we purchased more. That was back in 2012 and the very attention-grabbing label featured a real-life criminal who committed one of the crimes considered serious enough to be banished to Australia. Thus, criminals, artists and scholars populated that vast land. Gradually over the years the brand has grown and today we offer you a total of eight choices, some Australian and some Californian.

The 2020 19 Crimes Red Blend is still so popular and its cherry-red colour reflects the shiraz, pinot noir, grenache and cabernet sauvignon that I suspect are in this blend. On the nose sweet vanilla is a sign of the oak used and this is followed by dark berries, cherries, chocolate and some spice. You may be feeling a bit snobbish, but just try a taste and I think that you would honestly say, “What is there not to like?” $19.80 (Stock #6224).

James McNally Wilson, on the label of 2019 19 Crimes Banished Dark Red, was court-martialled for mutiny in 1865 and so he was sent to the “other side” in 1867 on the very last ship to perform such a duty. This wine is brooding with richness, dark chocolate, blackberry and plum. Shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and grenache have evolved in American oak that adds a soft, round texture. $19.80 (Stock #6226).

The 2020 19 Crimes The Punishment Pinot Noir hails from south-eastern Australia and its soft, velvety tannins are true to this grape variety. Spice, bright strawberries and cherries and a touch of smoke follow. It works with chicken or fish and even fruity desserts. $19.80 (Stock #6228).

Our 2020 19 Crimes The Uprising Rum Barrel Red is produced by ageing cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and grenache in used rum barrels for a month. The name hails a time, in 1808, when a group of Australian soldiers and citizens banded together to overthrow their government due to its hindering of the rum trade. One review suggests flavours of rum and raisin ice cream with a raspberry ripple topping. Hmmm? As the winemaker, Tony Robinson, may be a long-lost cousin of mine, I suggest you try it like an after-dinner port with dessert. I have tasted it and, quite honestly, the rum impact was far less than I was anticipating. This new method of adding other influences to wine is becoming quite popular in Britain and the United States. $19.80 (Stock #6331).

I would like to finish the Australian selections with 19 Crimes Hard Chard, but it is currently out of stock and waiting for more to arrive. What a crime!

Next is the first Californian wine to join the group and, as the ones from Down Under do, it features folks that have had a brush with the law. The 2020 Snoop Dogg Cali Red is defiant by nature and bold in character. It is described by the winery in this way: “We are proud to partner with entertainment icon Snoop Dogg, who embodies these qualities and more, through hard work and perseverance. Snoop Dogg is a culture creator, innovator and a leader in pop culture; and he brought this same energy to 19 Crimes Red Blend.

“19 Crimes Snoop Dogg Cali Red is an opaque, dark-purple colour. Aromas of very ripe mixed fruit, accented with distinct American oak aromas of vanilla and smoke. The palate is full and dense with strong black and blue fruit notes up front from the petite sirah and bright-red, slightly candied fruit in the background from the zinfandel. The darkly toasted oak ties it all together with a slightly sweet finish.” $24.70 (Stock #6225).

There is also a 2020 19 Crimes Snoop Dog Cali Rosé. The bottle glass is frosted, which mutes the colour in the bottle but when poured into a glass the wine is a bright, shiny amber pink. The nose is cherry, watermelon, apple, a touch of cream and a light floral edge. If put in the fridge all day, the cold does not inhibit the aromas. This is a fruit-forward wine that tastes like nectar of sweet black cherry, strawberry, light watermelon, soft spice and a little vanilla. It is described this way in Cheap Wine Reviews: “One interesting detail about this rosé is the 10.5 per cent alcohol content. Typical California rosé falls into the 12.5 to 13.5 per cent range but on paper the Cali Rosé is constructed like those French wines that you sip at a café on a plaza while watching the world walk by.” $24.70 (Stock #6222).

Finally, there is 2020 19 Crimes Martha’s Chard that we described recently as a best buy on the Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Best Buys list. $24.70 (Stock #6222).

• This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at mrobinson@bll.bm. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm

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Published October 21, 2022 at 6:55 am (Updated October 21, 2022 at 6:55 am)

A big brand

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