Orin Swift Papillon 2005

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IMG_3607This bottle is from the inaugural vintage for Orin Swift’s Bordeaux style blend Papillon. Orin Swift, for anyone hiding from the juice of the California wine industry, is the project of David Phinney, who is in my opinion perhaps one of the top winemakers in California right now. I know there are many other great candidates, including Manfred Frankl of Sine Qua Non or Randy Dunn of Dunn Vineyards, but Phinney has not only managed Orin Swift amongst a host of other projects, but has kept the prices decidedly reasonable for a winery that has been releasing nothing but very high scoring wines adored by many.

While this wine is more expensive than the famous “Prisoner” zinfandel blend, it also required a lot more oak treatment, which always brings more expense. Nonetheless, this still beats out many other Napa Bordeaux style blends at the same price point.

The colour was a very deep and extracted purple, which led into an expressive nose of chocolate, cassis, cedar, blackberry and a touch of heat. The palate was texturally brilliant and silky, and filled with flavours like cedar, blackberry, dark plum and cherry fruit, and chocolate. Like the Prisoner, this is a wine that is just downright tasty, and it is this extreme tastiness that makes this stand out and hold just enough personality to distinguish it from the pack – not to mention it has a kickass label. This is a great effort and I will definitely be seeking out future vintages.

$70 at BCLDB (I think around $50USD)


  1. Sean
    October 6, 2009

    Oh man. I’ve been meaning to try this wine since Graham and I visited them in their offices. You’ve re-motivated me. I’ll make sure to grab a bottle of the current release.

  2. Shea
    October 6, 2009

    It’s a very tasty creation. If you do grab one – let me know how the 2006 is tasting.

  3. Mark
    October 7, 2009

    you mention Manfred at SQN.. have you managed to get a hold of any SQN wines in Canada?

  4. Shea
    October 7, 2009

    They come here sometimes for insane prices ($800), but I managed to get three bottles when I was in Berkeley for a much much better price.

  5. Mark
    October 8, 2009

    They’re around 2-400 here, depending on vintage, and varietal..
    i’m on the waitlist.. i foresee a 5-8 year wait 🙁

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