Winery: Orin Swift
Region: California - Napa Valley
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot (Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend)
Wine Style: Red - Bold and Structured
Food Pairing: Beef, Lamb, Game (deer, venison), Mature and hard cheese, Chicken
Reviews: 92 Points Robert Parker
Winemaker Notes & Critical Acclaim:
An inky, dark garnet sits in the glass with bursting aromatics even from afar—ripe blackcurrant and blackberry with hints of Kirsch, Madagascar vanilla and cigar box. Velvety and rich on entry and through the mid, the wine offers flavors of dark plum, blueberry and notes of fennel, fresh leather and a subtle minerality. Plush, layered and dense, the wine finishes with dusty tannins and a lingering touch of black cherry. - Winemaker Note
The 2016 Papillon Proprietary Red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, aged for 15 months in 45% new French oak. It has a deep garnet-purple color and features exuberant black and red plums, cassis and boysenberry scents with touches of pencil shavings, mossy bark and cast iron pan. Medium to full-bodied, firm and finely grained, it has a seamless structure supporting the elegantly played fruit, finishing on a lingering menthol note. - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
About The Producer:
Orin Swift Cellars is one of California's most entrepreneurial wine producers. It went from a tiny production project to an empire of wines distributed across the world, with the distinctively packaged 'The Prisoner' wine at the forefront of consumers' attention.
The company was founded by David Swift Phinney, who fell into wine on a trip to Italy during his college days. After graduating, he took a job at Robert Mondavi Winery as a harvest worker, before founding his own company in 1998. Orin is his father's middle name, while Swift is his mother's maiden name.
The wine that Orin Swift is most well-known for is 'The Prisoner', a wine made predominately from Zinfandel with smaller amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Charbono, Syrah, and Petite Sirah, sourced from all over Napa Valley. It was launched in 2003 with a mere 385 cases, but quickly became a cult wine with its rich, fruit-forward profile, and its striking label – a drawing of a prisoner by the artist Goya.
In 2010, Phinney sold 'The Prisoner' to Huneeus Vintners for an undisclosed sum. By this time, production had reached over 75,000 cases and was being distributed nationwide and internationally. Phinney was also asked to sign a non-compete clause, saying that he would not make a Zinfandel for the next five years.
Orin Swift produces a number of other well-known labels, the most sought-after being the Mercury Head, a varietal Cabernet Sauvignon wine in a bottle adorned with silver-winged Mercury Head dimes that Phinney collected as a child. The dime was minted between the years 1916 to 1945, so the winery sources the coins from recycled bottles and brokers. The wine is known for selling out in a matter of days between club members and retailers. Additional labels include Papillon, a Bordeaux blend; Mannequin, a white blend mostly made from Chardonnay; Machete, a Petite Sirah blend with a line-up of twelve different racy labels, as well as several others. Many of Orin Swift's wine is limited to the winery's club members.
Recently, Phinney bought 95 hectares (235 acres) of vineyard near the village of Maury in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. He built a winery called Department 66, and launched an old-vine Grenache-based wine called D-66 with the 2009 vintage.