Orin Swift The Prisoner 2009 Review

Orin Swift The Prisoner 2009 - Back Label


51% Zinfandel, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Syrah, 7% Petite Sirah, 3% Charbono, 1% Grenache, 1% Malbec, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.



The label for The Prisoner was work of Spanish artist Francisco Goya. For the 2009 vintage, the debut tasting apparently took place at a prison location in San Francisco’s Presidio military base near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Orin Swift was started by Dave Phinney all stemming from him studying abroad at the University of Florence in Florence, Italy. It was a suggestion from his roommate, who happened to come from a wine-making family, which sparked Dave’s interest in wine. He worked his first harvest for the Robert Mondavi Winery. The next year, Dave explains he “…started Orin Swift Cellars with two tons of purchased Zinfandel grapes and as my wife likes to say, with one pair of shoes.”

The 2005 vintage of The Prisoner was rated at #17 on the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 of 2007.

My reason for purchasing the Orin Swift The Prisoner was simple! I’d never tasted it before, and if one more person asked me if I’d tried it; I thought I might stab myself in the eye with a wine bottle opener!


Click here to check out the Orin Swift website

Orin Swift The Prisoner 2009

Place (click map for larger view)
Napa Valley Wine Map

The Napa County AVA (American Viticultural Area) covers an area of around 788 square miles. Even though Napa Valley is probably the most famous winemaking region in the U.S., its total production is only around 4-5% of California’s total wine production!

It was George Yount  who planted the first vines in Napa Valley around 1838-1839 after declaring, “In such a place I should love to clear the land and make my home. In such a place I should love to live and die." He founded the town that was eventually named Yountville in his honor.

The familiar statue on Highway 29 that greets visitors who enter Napa County from the south is named The Grapecrusher. The bronze sculpture was created by Gino Miles, in 1987 and is dedicated to the workers who labor in the vineyards.

The first commercial winery in Napa was established by Charles Krug in 1861.


Orin Swift The Prisoner 2009



A lesson in subtlety this ain’t! An amalgamation of intense red and black fruit that is so in your face it’s unreal! It almost reminds me of the fruit-forward aggressiveness of some South Australian Shirazes.
Intense cassis, plum, blackberry, dried cranberry, black cherry; yup, it covers just about every red and black fruit-base there is! But wait! There’s more! The oak is certainly there; with vanilla, pepper and chocolate-covered coffee beans! The finish is long and hot.

My one major concern with the wine: the alcohol level is obnoxious! Maybe it’s just because I have a high sensitivity for alcohol in wine, but it seems so out of balance it’s insane.
”That’s a pretty bold statement considering the 2007 bottling of this wine received a 92 point rating from the Wine Speculator!”
I know, right!?!?! I was expecting big things from this wine.
If you really want to know, I actually even second-guessed myself on The Prisoner. The first bottle was actually given to me by a wine rep friend to taste and review. Because I wasn’t that impressed with it the first time around, I shelled out $30 of my own cash to buy it again and re-taste; something I’ve never done before.
The wine is good. It’s not awesome, it’s good. I’m not going to lie, I wouldn’t purchase this wine again. However, saying that, my wife loved it! Is my palate better than hers? Probably not, she’s still a consumer, so what does it matter?



Keep the food bold in flavor and you should be fine!
BBQ, steak on the grill, prime rib sandwich with au jus, filet mignon with a pepper sauce or lamb chops with a red fruit reduction. Also, how’s about a thick slice of chocolate cake with a red and black fruit compote? This no-carb diet is KILLING me writing these pairings!!!




Orin Swift The Prisoner 2009 Cork

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