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Snoop Dogg has partnered with Australian wine company 19 Crimes on the Snoop Dogg Cali Red.Tami Chappell/The Associated Press

Considering how many musicians, actors and sports figures are connected with wine projects, the launch of a new celebrity wine is hardly news. But the creative partnership between one of America’s most recognized rappers, Snoop Dogg, and the Australian wine company 19 Crimes resulted in a wine that’s a stretch for both parties.

Snoop Dogg Cali Red is the first wine release tied to the Drop It Like It’s Hot hitmaker. It’s also the first-ever 19 Crimes product to be made in California.

The 19 Crimes brand is owned by Treasury Wine Estates, one of the largest wine producers in the world, which operates wineries in Australia, New Zealand and the United States. With a name inspired by the practice of shipping convicts from England to penal colonies in Australia between 1788 and 1868, 19 Crimes is testing its popularity to see if it transcends its homeland.

The Australian brand attracted interest from younger and technologically savvy consumers with innovative augmented-reality labels. An app will animate the various personalities depicted on 19 Crimes bottles, including Snoop, who will share insights as you drink.

The red wine – offering consumers a mix of quintessentially California grape varieties, zinfandel and petite sirah and made in the sweeter style that defines best-selling American brands like Apothic and Menage a Trois – is a marked departure from the established Australian portfolio. The range of 19 Crimes wines is mostly labeled by grape varieties. The Snoop Dogg Cali Red has been released in provinces across Canada, and a rosé is already being distributed in the United States.

Snoop Dogg’s red would be too sweet for many wine lovers, but it’s sure to please the target market of people who are just getting a taste for wine. A review is offered here alongside a few other weird and wonderful wines to try out.

19 Crimes Snoop Dogg Cali Red 2019 (California), $20.35

Rating:87 /100

This mix of petite sirah, zinfandel and merlot is ripe, smooth and sweet. It’s likely to appeal to those buying it based on the connection to Snoop Dogg, but I’m not sure the rapper’s cooking-show colleague Martha Stewart would have a second glass. It’s well-made for the style, but the candied sweetness spoils the finish. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price, $19.99 in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, various prices in Alberta, $19.98 in Newfoundland.

Catena San Carlos Cabernet Franc 2018 (Argentina), $19.95

Rating:91 /100

Catena’s appellation series was designed to showcase a single grape variety grown in a specific place in Mendoza. In this case, 100-per-cent cabernet franc from vineyards located in the San Carlos district of the Uco Valley are blended to produce this ripe and savoury red wine. There’s classic cabernet franc character here, with fragrant herbs and peppery notes adding lift to the ripe red fruit and cedar flavours. It’s a bright and balanced red wine that’s ready to drink now but can age four to six years. Available at the above price in Ontario, $30.35 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $22.10 in Quebec.

Hidden Bench Estate Winery Estate Chardonnay 2018 (Canada), $29.95

Rating:92 /100

Made in a generous, rich and rounded style, this exciting and age-worthy chardonnay represents a blend from Hidden Bench’s organically certified vineyards in Beamsville, Ont. A dry white with an inviting character, this nicely balances nutty and toasty flavours with vibrant citrus notes that carry through to a mouth-watering finish. Drink now to 2027. Available in Ontario at the above price or direct through, $32.25 in Quebec.

La Chevalière Rasteau 2017 (France), $20.95

Rating:91 /100

A dry and full-bodied red, this is a traditional blend from Rasteau, one of the prime growing regions in the southern Rhône. It offers a core of concentrated dark fruit and complex spice and herbal notes, which are enjoyable now but promise to develop nicely in bottle. Drink now to 2025. Available in Ontario.

Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2020 (Canada), $22.95

Rating:90 /100

This early-release white from the 2020 vintage shows how sauvignon blanc and blends continue to climb in quality level and sophistication at Mission Hill. Produced from grapes grown on the Black Sage Bench and Osoyoos in the Okanagan and a blend of fermentation vessels, including concrete and large oak vats, this refreshing white is intensely aromatic with good concentration and a sustained, refreshing finish. It’s a richer style of sauvignon blanc that’s really appetizing. Drink now to 2023. Available in Ontario at the above price, $21.99 in British Columbia or direct through, various prices in Alberta, $24.99 in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.

Paddy Borthwick Chardonnay 2018 (New Zealand), $24.95

Rating:92 /100

Coming from the Borthwick vineyard in Gladstone, part of the Wairarapa region on New Zealand’s North Island, this is complex and really enjoyable to drink. It is a richer and riper style, without losing its freshness or focus. An attractive mix of citrusy and tree fruit flavours stand out, with secondary oak contributing to the richer character. Drink now to 2026. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in British Columbia.

Perdeberg Vineyard Collection Cinsault 2018 (South Africa), $17.95

Rating:88 /100

The cinsault grape is coming back into fashion in South Africa among winemakers looking to make light and juicy red wines. This spicy and aromatic red is made from grapes grown on older-bush vines and presents a core of red fruit and a silky texture that’s easy to appreciate. It’s an understated red that’s best enjoyed slightly chilled. Drink now to 2024. Available in Ontario at the above price, $17 in Quebec.

Ruffino Prosecco Extra Dry (Italy), $17.95

Rating:87 /100

Ruffino has become such a familiar brand from Italy that it has expanded its reach from its Tuscan estates to other parts of the county to offer pinot grigio and prosecco in its portfolio. Made in a crowd-pleasing style, this fruity sparkling wine offers enjoyable peach, pear and citrus flavours. It’s a simple aperitif style. Available at the above price in Ontario, $17.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $19.49 in Saskatchewan, $17.99 in Manitoba, $17.65 in Quebec, $19.99 in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, $20.99 in Prince Edward Island, $20.98 in Newfoundland.

Trapiche Gran Medalla Malbec 2017 (Argentina), $27.95

Rating:91 /100

Trapiche reserve-tier malbec comes from the Las Piedras vineyard in the Uco Valley. This is a rich red wine with a complex herbal and savoury nose and smooth, ripe palate. There are some overripe raisin and kirsch flavours, but this is harmonious and appealing overall. Drink now to 2030. Available at the above price in Ontario, various prices in Alberta, $28.49 in Saskatchewan, $26.99 in Manitoba, $28 in New Brunswick, $27.98 in Nova Scotia, $28.98 in Prince Edward Island, $29.97 in Newfoundland.

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