The Prisoner Napa Valley Red Wine LabelThe New 2010 Prisoner Napa Valley Red Wine – Consistently Delicious!

Once again Dave Phinney displays his talents as a master blender.  This is a genuine indicator of a talented winemaker, and it’s not just about blending different varietals.  First you have to find the grapes, be able to buy them, know the vineyard sites, the growers, and the growing season from all the different micro-climates.  Then it’s blending different barrels, picked at different times, from different vineyards.  It’s a monumental task, and Phinney has proven time and time again that he’s very good at it.

Orin Swift’s The Prisoner Napa Valley Red Wine is one of the most sought after domestic red wines that has developed a loyal following.  Year after year, legions of devout fans of The Prisoner increases, and the wine does not disappoint fans of explosive, sexy red wines.

One reason The Prisoner has such a loyal following may be due to it’s consistently rich structure and fruit forward character that fans of big red wines can rely on year after year. Wine critics seem to agree. Reviews of previous vintages consistently see The Prisoner rated between 90-93.

Right out of the gate, the 2003 “Prisoner” received a 92-point rating in the Wine Spectator. The 2005 Prisoner was selected No. 17 on the venerable Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2007 list, and has been a fixture on the list ever since.

The Prisoner Red Wine BottleOrin Swift 2010 The Prisoner Napa Valley Red Wine

Winemaker Notes:

“The 2009 has a deep ruby hue that is nearly opaque.The aromas elevate from the glass starting with black currant, dark blackberry, cherry, and cassis rounded out by subtle hints of seasoned French and American oak. The entry of the wine is massive and leads into a lush middle framed by bright acid and supple tannins. The finish is long, lingering and filled with soft velvety tannins lasting for nearly thirty seconds.” ($38)
—Dave Phinney, winemaker

The 2010 Prisoner Blend
44% Zinfandel,
26% Cabernet Sauvignon
18% Syrah
9% Petite Sirah
2% Charbono
1% Grenache

*these numbers are approximate

New from David Phinney and Orin Swift

ABSTRACT 2010 California Red Wine

Although I am more concerned with what is in the bottle, there is no doubt that Dave Phinney is not only a master blender of wine, he is also a master marketer. His innovative packaging designs leave unforgettable impressions: The Prisoner, Mercury Head Cab, Saldo, etc. With ABSTRACT Phinney has created another striking package that will become a controversial topic of conversations at wine parties. (The photo doesn’t do the opaque, black silhouettes justice. Trust me, it’s very cool looking!)

ABSTRACT came out of Dave’s love of Grenache and a desire to make a blend using that varietal as the focal point. The wine has an inky concentration rounded out with Petite Sirah and Syrah.

ABSTRACT is a blend of Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino Grenache, Petite Sirah, and Syrah primarily from hillside vineyards. The aromas are laced with crushed black fruits and bing cherry. A mouth coating entry leads nicely into a mid palate with excellent structure and balanced acidity. Ripe cherry and strawberry dominate the finish which is clean and long.

Release: October 2011
Aged 10 months in new and seasoned French oak
15.7% Alc. by volume


About Dave Phinney

Dave Phinney of Orin SwiftWinemaker Dave Phinney has reached veritable stardom in wine circles with his Prisoner blend. His talents for blending has been proven year after year and has built this brand to a point where wine aficionados eagerly await each new release. The label features an etching by the artist Goya that Dave received from his parents as a teenager.

Phinney is a classic example of the new wave of creative winemakers with great vineyard connections that allow him to showcase his skill in blending wines. For The Prisoner, David secures fruit from some of Napa’s best vineyards.

When I first met Dave he told me the story of how he got on the waiting lists of top vineyards just to get enough for a barrel or two worth of grapes. Vineyards like Morisoli, Taplin, Duarte, and Tofanelli were on his “hit list”. Eventually he not only got some fruit from these vineyards, but now people come to him constantly offering him the best fruit from their vineyards. A true testament to the quality of wines Dave is making.

Other wines in the Orin Swift portfolio include Mercury Head Cabernet (Spring release), Papillon (a Bordeaux-style blend – 2007 is the current release and available), Saldo California Zinfandel (18 bottles of the 2008 is available – $28) and Valdora Sauvignon Blanc. Dave is also the winemaker for a few select wineries including Beau Vigne and Stanton.

Earlier this year, the Prisoner and Saldo labels were purchased by the Huneeus Vintners, owners of Quintessa. Phinney will remain on as the winemaker.


Focused, rich and ripe, showing aromas of black cherry and smoky pepper, with sleek but complex flavors of boysenberry, licorice and toasty oak that linger with balanced tannins. Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Charbono and Grenache. Drink now through 2015. 55,000 cases made. –TF

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