Orin Swift The Prisoner 2008
It is always interesting for me to return to this wine. It was the first wine I had when I first took a trip to Napa Valley two and a half years ago. I drank it at Napa’s Bounty Hunter, a cool little retail shop / restaurant that represented the kind of thing I wished was possible in Canada. Our draconian regulatory licensing scheme makes such a venture impossible, so the memory of such places has become an ideal for me to fight for in the local wine scene.
My first trip down to Napa was also precipitous in my exploration into the vast world of wine. Back then I hadn’t tasted much of anything over $20 a bottle, and I tended to stay with things that I knew more. I was only just starting to make a more in-depth foray into regions beyond Australia and California. In reflection, it’s amazing what I’ve learned in such a short period of time. And, it is this wine – Orin Swift’s incredibly successful Prisoner zinfandel blend – that reminds me of the beginning of this journey.
This is particularly interesting since The Prisoner is stylistically vastly removed from what I tend to drink today, with a massively sweet nose of blueberries and figs. The palate reminds me of how exciting it was to taste this level of fruit concentration in wine before I knew anything. This vintage is massive with its dried blueberry, fig, chocolate and subtle spice tasting like an incredibly concentrated reduction. This is not a bad wine, unlike the massively disgusting 2005 Paraduxx zinfandel blend I had two nights ago, which had so much heavy oak treatment the fruit was indistinguishable from the cream and caramel. No, this is a very well made wine – but it is absolutely huge and sweet and does not try to produce subtlety, finesse or nuance. This is all fruit all the time. And it does this well. Perhaps most importantly, it serves as a yardstick by which I can measure my stylistic drift and expansion over the years. Whereas in early 2007 I would have jumped for joy at this wine, now I find it easier to place and far less exciting. Wine really is a fascinating journey.
$55 at BCLDB