Posts Tagged ‘Orin Swift The Prisoner’

Under the influence of the wine label? Guilty as charged.

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Orin Swift - PapillonOh go ahead and call the wine police. I’ll confess. Have I bought under the influence of the wine label? Yes sir, officer! Guilty as charged.

But, admit it. We’ve all done it. Sure we research the vintage tasting notes, read the reviews online, keep current on the industry trends, and mine feedback on our apps. But when you’re running late for that dinner party, you’ve left your phone in the car, and there isn’t a soul to ask for a recommendation, what does it come down to? That’s right…the label.

And really, what’s wrong with that?

Chonic Cellars - Sofa King BuenoAfter all, we taste with our eyes first. We swirl the wine, pontificate its color, its brilliance, its opacity, its legs. It’s our eyes that set the stage ripe with anticipation, setting the expectations of what will soon roll over our tongue. And yet, we discard the label as unimportant, a decoration, a distraction, a rookie mistake. Isn’t the label really our first taste of the vino goodness to come? And if it isn’t, shouldn’t it be?

Still not convinced? Consider some of our favorite wine labels in the shop.

 Orin Swift PapillonOrin Swift - The PrisonerOrin Swift - Saldo

Orin Swift
Strong, bold and arresting with layers of complexity in the storytelling. From Papillon’s hands of third generation Napa Valley grape grower and winemaker Vince Tofanelli to Saldo’s striking red and white label maker label, Orin Swift’s labels offer a visual amuse bouche of what awaits inside.




Herman Story - On the Road, Nuts & Bolts, and TomboyHerman Story
Fresh and forward, saturated, and yet, balanced, Herman Story’s labels reach out and grab you without even a line of front text. It’s pure experience: lush, vivid and focused. And just when you think you’ve got the blend of vineyards figured out, it slaps you with a barrage of words and smirk on the back label.



Owen Roe - Sinister HandOwen Roe - Yakima RedOwen Roe
Conversation starter and finisher. Owen Roe visually tempts your taste buds with a master blend of historical richness and salt of the earth earnestness, all delivered with a wink and a smile. Look no further than Owen Roe’s Sinister Hand label. Ominous yet tempting, it tells the tale of a rowing race won by a competitor slicing off his hand and tossing it on shore to be the first to touch, and ultimately become king. Determined, focused, arresting…or at the very least, a great party conversation starter.

Sans Liege - ProphetessSans Liege - GroundworkSans Liege - Cotes-Du-CoastSan Liege
Tasting this Thursday (5/12) at The Wine Closet with the winemaker himself!
Seductive, enrapturing and powerful, San Liege promises an “anthology of sensory travels” from first glance. A visual feast rich with layers of emotion, temptation and longing, San Liege’s labels deliver that first bite of the forbidden bottled inside.

And with that your honor, I rest my case and give it to the jury. What wine designs have caught your eye and tempted your palate?

Davina DaVino


Sipping and Grilling – Orin Swift Palermo

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

BBQ Pizza & WineThere’s no doubt. It’s good living in Santa Barbara County. Not only are we nestled with an ocean view in the mecca of some of the best vineyards and winemakers in the world, but we’ve got perfect BBQ weather practically all year long. Great grilling and good wine…how can you possibly beat that?

Yeah, you can’t.

Getting our Wine Grilling on - Palermo

Which is why, as an admitted BBQ addict, I’m constantly on the hunt for great grilling wines. One-course, flash-in-the-pans need not apply. I’m looking for a wine that sips pleasantly round the fire pit for cocktail conversation and yet holds its own when the hot topics get fired up at dinner. We’re talking that rare garnet gem of goodness that brings a balance between easy drinking for easy living and a bold attitude ready to stand up with something to say. It might just be Tuesday, but my grill is hot and I’m lining up the bottles for the weekend.

Orin Swift PalermoTop of my BBQ list this week goes to Orin Swift’s new 2009 Palermo Cabernet Sauvignon (90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot). If you’ve tasted Orin Switft’s The Prisoner , Saldo and Papillon, you know Palermo roars in with an impeccable pedigree and doesn’t disappoint. Gathered from Howell Mountain, Oakville, Rutherford, Saint Helena, and Spring Mountain grapes and aged 16 months in French Oak, Palermo brings to the table blend of the best for a full mouth coat and long finish. It pours dark garnet with a ruby rim and beautiful legs, and unfolds into a bold cherry nose, a perfect complement to a smoking Q. Inside the drink is a complex but silky balance of black raspberries, aged tobacco, and dark chocolate palate with aged oak undertones that blend beautifully with balsamic chicken or stand up to a steak. It lingers on the finish, and packs a punch with 15.5% ALC.

It might only be Tuesday, but I’ve got my Palermo on order and a tri tip in the fridge. Who says BBQing is just for the weekend?

Ready to do some grilling of your own? Swing by The Wine Closet for our Thursday Night Sippin’ and Grillin’ 5-wine flight, and get a taste of Orin Swift’s Palermo.


Davina DaVino

ZIN is IN Tasting Results

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Tasting Notes courtesy of Mark Johnson, Commander Printing.

Wow, it was quite an evening last night at the ZIN is IN tasting at Casa de Keating. We started with 3 white wines: a white Rhône from Milaflores Winery, a Sauvignon Blanc from Stephen & Walker/Trust Winery Sonoma, and a unoaked Chard from Morgan. Then we started in on the vast array of tasty food: falling off the bone Thai style ribs, BBQ pulled pork and tri-tip sandwiches, black bean and beef taquitos with pepperjack cheese, stuffed mushroom caps, smoky BBQ ribs, and spicy chicken posole, plus breads, cheeses, nuts, and crackers.

We opened 21 wines and overall the quality was quite good, with only a few real dogs (including a pricey Aussie Zin). After separating the Zins into two flights (of lower vs. higher alcohol content) we went to work, and after a slow start found several standouts in the first group of 9. After a food break we went back at it and found several more really good wines in the second batch. Then it was time for elimination and final judging. It grew quite contentious as the west side of the table argued with the east side, almost coming to fisticuffs. Finally, after much verbal sparing we selected a winner: the 2007 Carlisle “Papera”, which interestingly was my wine — in first place — again. Though to be fair, my personal favorite which I actually scored higher, was Ruth’s 2005 Martinelli “Jackass”.

Here are my top 8 Zins:

2007 Martinelli Jackass

2006 Michael-David LUST (controversial)

2007 Mauritson Rockpile

2007 Renwood Crain Sleeper

2007 Carlisle Papera

2006 Valdez

2008 Prisoner (very controversial – see note below)

2007 Carlisle Montazi

Thanks again to Kent and Jill for hosting and helping with all the food. The table was set up perfectly with all the appropriate tasting accoutrements. Job well done!

NOTE: when is a Zin not a Zin? That was a major topic of discussion last night as some thought the Prisoner was not “qualified” for this tasting (even though it tasted great). As luck would have it, in today’s LA Times food section the front page article was all about field blend Zins. It makes for a very interesting, and timely, read.

Mark Johnson

Commander Printed Products

3450 Camino del Sol

Oxnard, CA 93030

800-722-3676 / 805-988-5880

Cass House Birthday Dinner

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

For my parent’s birthday we went to the Cass House restaurant in Cayucus – A French-American style restaurant with a daily changing, seasonal menu.  Beautiful location in the North side of downtown Cayucus. There are two dinner options to choose from, 3 courses for $48 or 4 courses for $56.  You can select any of the options within each category.  Sounds confusing, yes, but not really.  Rob selected the soft shell crab brioche appetizer that was dressed with tartar, pancetta, tomato confit and arugula – scrumptious.  His salad selection was the Cass House garden greens (which are grown in the backyard), full of feta, local beets, soft herbs, pine nuts with a meyer lemon vanilla viniagrette.  Third course was wild Northern halibut with forbidden rice which is an heirloom rice that is black when raw and turns purlple when cooked – this was an excellent entree, the halibut was perfectly cooked and delicate and he ate up all that forbidden rice!  Linda split the same salad with sistah Nina and also shared the artisan cheese plate and charcuterie with accompaniments – a fabulous selection of rich, handmade cheese from around the world with fresh fruit, raw nuts, olives & pate.  Linda then enjoyed the fried green tomatoe stack with bacon, mustard greens and aioli.  She finished with the scallops with gnoochi, pea tendrils succotash and lobster beurre fondu – WOW, very flavorful and interesting to boot.

The wine list was quite amazing and very extensive.  Their corkage was reasonable at $14/bottle.  We brought Jack Creek’s ’06 Pinot Noir Reserve which is one of our favorite California styled Pinot’s, Ecluse ’05 Syrah and then ordered their last bottle of 2005 Orin Swift’s The Prisoner.  All were excellent and then some.  They waived the corkage fee for the bottles we brought in since we purchased a bottle as well – more than fair.

This restaurant was classy, we had the table the entire night and the wait staff was very attentive.  Highly recommended.  We’ve actually spent more, for less in the past.