The Prisoner Red Wine, 2009, as a gift earlier this year. It was released late last fall by Orrin Swift Cellars, home to an "up and coming" winemaker, Dave Phinney (also the owner of Orrin Swift). The Prisoner has developed a small cult following, each year more fans eagerly await the next release. Earlier vintages have had spectacular reviews and the Prisoner has become Orrin Swift's flagship red wine. The 2009 vintage was rated 94-97 by Wine Spectator.
The Prisoner is easily one of the best wines I've tasted in quite some time, and if you see a bottle, I'd recommend you snatch it up and save it for a special occasion. Or share it with a special someone over grilled lamb chops and spinach. Or sip it alone, enjoying the decadence of a really delicious wine shared with no one but yourself. Worst case scenario, insist on sending me a bottle, just to make sure I got it right.
The Prisoner started life as a diverse bunch of grapes, including Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Syrah and others. I like this wine because it comes across the palate fresh and berry-filled from the zindandel grapes, yet full and powerful due to the Cabernet Sauvignon. The Syrah and Petite Syrah smooth it out, leaving you with a rich, complex Cabernet. It balances cherries, black currant, cassis and berries with a tobacco that comes from the American and French oak barrels in which it matures. It has a beautifully massive flavor that grows into a long, lingering finish filled with lush velvety tannins. It's also the most beautiful shade of garnet, almost opaque, yet practically glowing in the wine glass.
(and yes, those are grapes in the background. They're destined to become jam in the fall, not wine.)