19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Garnet color with slight translucence; red fruits, vanilla on the nose; red cherry, red currant, raspberry, sweet vanilla and oak on the palate.

Creamy medium-light body, some licorice, mint and blackberry; tame tannins and balancing acidity (3.53 pH); smoothness seems the principal aim and it is achieved at the cost of being one-dimensional. Very smooth and easy drinking, a good introduction to cabernet sauvignon for the faint-of-palate who have been spooked by more substantial cabs in the past. That also means you only get a hint at cab’s varietal character when you quaff 19 Crimes Cab; this drinks more like a commodity red blend than a pure cab play. You can easily pair with prime rib, barbecue, or other beef without fear.

Fruitiness and sweetness from oak come through; there is plenty of vanilla. This is wine beginners will enjoy as a no-offense saunter into the red wine-cab world, but more experienced palates will find it wanting in the character and complexity and depth that makes cab the king of big red wines.

The label name comes from Australia’s penal colony beginnings. In the 18th and 19th centuries, there were 19 crimes that earned you “punishment by transportation”—banishment to Australia. The crimes ranged from somewhat serious—grand larceny—to the weird: impersonating an Egyptian (which actually meant being a gypsy—a crime previously punished by death in England) and clandestine marriage (marriage without church banns or license). To Australia they came. Some of their descendants make this wine today.

The wine is made by Treasury Wine Estates, an Australian-based global winemaking and distribution operation that traces its roots to Penfolds Wine and Foster’s Group beer brewers. Because the wine business under-performed the beer business, the wine operation was spun off from Foster’s in 2011, and the wine business has struggled and morphed since then. It still remains, however, a major international player in the wine world, making wine in 12 countries, selling more than 35 million cases of wine a year, and generating sales of more than $2 billion. Labels you may recognize include Beaulieu Vineyard, Beringer, Chateau St. Jean, Greg Norman Estates, Lindemans, Stag’s Leap, Wolf Blass, Sterling Vineyards, and their flagship—Penfolds.

19 Crimes Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 is a smooth, easy drinking cab with red fruit, oak that is not over-done, plenty of vanilla; it lacks depth and complexity but does nothing to offend. It is widely available and very nicely priced. Buy it for your friends who are skittish around serious reds, or for you and your friends after you’ve knocked off the first two bottles of better stuff. $10

19 Crimes website

Second photo: List of the 19 crimes.

List of the 19 crime