1849 Wine Company is a newish negociant brand, snapping up wines from smaller producers, labeling them under its own banner, and selling them off, typically as one-off releases. You’ll find them at various retailers, including wine.com and Total Wine, but these bottlings may well vanish once their stock runs out — or evolve into something different when a new vintage arrives. As such, if one of these wines sounds interesting to you, pay closer attention to the vintage on the bottle than you might otherwise do normally.
1849 has five wines on offer at present, all featuring splashy labels created by SABER, an LA-based artist known for large-scale outdoor pieces, that “draw inspiration from the contemporary art movement of the 21st century.” Per the company, “1849 Wine’s vibrant labels capture your attention away from the endless sea of white, off-white, and eggshell labels that fill store shelves. We pride ourselves on creating California wines of the highest quality and expression. Every handcrafted bottle of 1849 Wine reflects the artistic spirit and dedication we have for the art of wine making. Like an artist’s fascinating power to disrupt norms, transcend taboos and change our perspective, our goal is to do all three with every bottle of 1849 Wine.”
So, while the labels are certainly eye-catching, are you ready to dig into what’s inside the bottle? Thoughts on the full lineup of five wines follow.
2018 Au Jus Chardonnay Monterey County – Traditionally oaky chardonnay, with a hint of guava to offer some nuance. Lots of lingering vanilla on the end, with a growing sweetness that is reminiscent, in flavor at least, of cake frosting. B / $22
2016 Iris Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – A classic pinot noir structure showcases tart cherry notes, complemented by a gentle layer of spice, cola, and just a hint of black pepper. It’s a slightly lighter rendition of Sonoma Coast pinot, but altogether quite a crowd-pleaser. A- / $30
2015 Anonymous Red Wine Blend Napa Valley – A big fat blend of cabernet sauvignon, petit sirah, merlot, and zinfandel. For me the jammy zin stands out, with plump strawberry notes and a heavy coating of spice. Big vanilla notes take over from there, with a brambly blueberry-meets-milk chocolate note coming on strong as the finish approaches. Said conclusion is incredibly sweet, with a lasting dessert quality to it that echoes much of the experience that’s come before. B / $40
2014 Declaration Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley – Heavy with black fruit and a dusting of baking spice, this is prototypical Napa cab, though it is lacking in a certain depth. Tannins are largely nonexistent, which lets an overwhelming cake-like character, driven by vanilla and chocolate, do most of the talking. Notes of blueberry pie inform the quite sweet finish. Fine, but definitely not worth its price tag. B / $80
2015 Triumph Premium Red Wine Blend Sonoma County – The inclusion of “Premium” in the official name of this wine is perhaps gilding the lily a bit, but let’s look past that in considering this blend of petite sirah, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, and cabernet franc. A bit thin up front, the wine ultimately becomes a showcase for black fruit, black pepper, and a touch of bell pepper on the moderately tannic finish. Again the wine sees some chocolate notes on the back end, though here they run a bit darker. B / $45