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Feb 28, 2008 10:33 AM

Orin Swift's "The Prisoner"...

I bought a bottle of this for my father for the holiday's this year after reading about it on the Wine Spectator list. I just now realized (as I was thinking how much I looked forward to sharing it with him next week) that I think I bought the 2006, as opposed to the 2005 that was recommended. Although it's too late now to do much about, I was just wondering people's general impression of this wine. More specifically, I'd love to hear 2005 vs 2006 reactions.

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  1. have a 2006 bottle I have not cracked. The 05 was fantastic. It's a great wine for entertaining, though I would not say necessarily for a nice sit down meal. I've had some great Old World wines that really play around with food and morph over the meal. This will not do that. It's very fruit-forward and (when I had it) stayed that way despite anything you throw at it. It does make you take notice every time and it does keep you taking sips. While it has a high alcohol content, the ones I had (and others) did not feel the alcohol. Very well integrated. I have heard from several sources that 06 is just as good, if not better. The main comment was that it felt a little jammier in the mouth. One merchant told me that it was incredibly tannic and he was very surprised by that because he recommended the 05 as ready to drink to me in the first place. It must have been an off bottle (which the reviews seem to feel there were a few of in the 05s as well) because it goes against everyone else's opinion.

    Overall, I've been looking for more wines like it, and has had me revisiting Zins and Zin blends over the past few months. I think that's a mark of a good wine.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Icantread

      Personally I appreciate the complexity of the old world wines but my parents enjoy in your face fruit bombs (they're not the most patient souls-- it translates into their wine choices too I think). From your descriptions it sounds like it'll work regardless of if I got 05 or 06.

        1. re: Icantread

          Prisoner seems to be good vintage over vintage. It's always slightly different and always exciting, rich, and inky in color. Since it's a field blend, it's a great wine for a good winemaker to play around with. Zinfandel, Cunois, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot all make appearances year to year. It's a great wine for drinking, especially later in the evening when dinner is done, the food is over, and people want to just relax and let the conversation unfold. We had an incredibly rare magnum of 2002 Prisoner some weeks back and it was an absolute revelation. We dubbed it "god juice". Speaking of, magnums of Prisoner always seem to be exceptional for this wine.

          The Veladora Sauvignon Blanc can be good as well but it doesn't seem as consistent. We've had some vintages that weren't as great as their best efforts, like the 2004.

          I hate to give away my secrets . . . but Orin Swift just released their first Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. I'm really excited to try it when my first bottles arrive.

          R. Jason Coulston

          1. re: Jason_Coulston

            Just curious as to the reasons you call it a 'field blend". Technically that would mean all the fruit is crushed, fermented and cellared in the same % by variety as it was picked. From what I've read a 'field blend' isn't a blended wine at all but a 'blend' of picked varieties. I love The Prisoner, I just never considered it a field blend. Is it really?

            FWIW - Acorn (Healdsburg) makes a wine called Medley, which is made from two separate true field blends for which as many as 18 varieties are picked, crushed and fermented together; then the two resulting wines are blended for the best result. They call it a field blend, but I wonder if a purist would agree. Then, again, I tend to be a bit anal. The wine is incredible.

            1. re: Midlife

              I just had the Acorn Medley last week at Willie's Wine Bar, and it was terrific - the most well-balanced American wine I've had in a long time, and a deal at $32/bottle.

              Here's how they define "field-blended" on their web site:
              "Producing traditional field-blends (where the grapes are
              interplanted, harvested, and fermented together), creating
              approachable, food-friendly wines made in the old-world

              1. re: Claudette

                Glad you enjoyed Medley. if you have a chance to Acorn, near Healdsburg, it's really a great experience. All those varieties are grown right their on the property (which was once owned by the A. Rafanelli family, who are still in the Healdsburg area). Betsy and Bill Nachbaur both had careers in San Francisco for years and have been running their small winery since since 1990. We found them around 2000 or so.

    2. The 05 and the 06 Prisoner have slightly different flavor profiles. The 05 I feel had a bit more structure (more tannin, especially) and darker fruit. The 06 is more red in character, and has a touch less acidity and tannin, which means it should be a young drinker. My personal preference is for the 05 but they are both worthy wines.

      1 Reply
      1. re: domaine547

        The 2006 is much softer and riper in style. You're right, it's really ready to go right away. My preference is the 2006, mainly because it better embodies for me everything I love about this wine. I don't cellar it, it's just for fun-time drinking with a group of wine lovers.

        R. Jason Coulston

      2. I received a bottle of the 2007. Has anyone else had it yet?

        Trying to decide whether to pull it out tonight with grilled pork loin, but so far the comments seem to indicate it's not a great food wine.


        1 Reply
        1. re: VealParmGuy

          Sorry to be a day late, but the '07 is outstanding. So far I've had it with lamb and pork.

          They've also come out with a slightly less expensive blend, heavier on the zin, called SALDO. It's about $27 per bottle. Had it last night with some spicy food and it was terrific.