2017 Orin Swift "Eight Years in the Desert" California Red Blend SKU #1380503

Price: $44.95

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Tasting Notes

Once upon a time David Phinney created one of the most iconic wines to ever come out of California: The Prisoner, the country's most famous Zinfandel blend. Gradually the wine grew from being a rare cult wine to one of the most commercially successful wines of all time. Not only did the Prisoner redefine style of wine, the bottle and the packaging redefined wine as style. Ultimately, the project became so successful David sold the brand so that he could return to what he loved most, creating something new. Following his eight year hiatus, David has created and now released his first Zinfandel blend. The wine is a powerhouse blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Syrah. The success of the wine is based on sourcing fruit from amazing vineyards in California. He's back, and he's better than ever. Winemaker's notes: "Heady aromas of brambly raspberry, black fig and peppercorn dominate; time in the glass exposes more - dark chocolate, fennel and High Sierra forest floor. The palate is lush and opulent with blackberries, dark plums and currants. More flavors add to the quality of the blend - a visceral minerality and fresh Herbs de Provence. Fully integrated with puckering tannins, the wine bows out with finesse. Blend: Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah."

Staff Reviews

  • Keith Mabry
    By: Keith Mabry
    K&L Staff Member
    The first time I tasted Dave Phinney's Prisoner was almost 20 years ago. I can still the remember the density and richness in the mouth and the mind blowing length. My friends and colleagues often referenced Campbell's Chunky Beef Stew - "Wine so thick you could eat it with a fork." It was all the elements of hedonism and the rich brambly fruit that was so appealing to my young self. Many years later and having long since sold off the brand, Dave was forced (by contractual obligation) to withhold making a wine in that Prisoner blended style with those types of grapes for eight years. During that time Phinney worked on other wine projects near and dear to his heart, from other California blends to his D66 project in the south of France. Recently, Dave came by the LA store to unveil a new wine, making reference to his non-compete, I was eager to revisit my youthful days and see how a Prisoner-styled wine from a much more mature winemaker would fare. Far more adept and artful in his style, Dave has sussed out a wine that transcends those early days of hammering out powerful reds and appeals to my more restrained sensibilities. Certainly there is no lack of fruit and flavor, but 8 years may have been the right amount of time to come back and revisit his original project through a set of new lenses. What's in the bottle has that same force that I remember from nigh-20 years ago but the finesse of a more artful hand shows through.
  • Kaj Stromer
    By: Kaj Stromer
    K&L Staff Member
    As was to be expected, the wine doesn’t miss a trick in terms of what you expect from a top flight California Zinfandel blend made by one of our most talented wine makers. To taste this is to understand what David Phinney has been conceptualizing over for 8 long years. First of all, the wine is incredibly complex. This Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah blend packs in a world of flavor from dark ripe berries and plums, to hints of forest floor, herbs, and a touch of chocolate and mocha. Though the wine is jam packed with highly delicious goodness, it somehow defies the laws of gravity by simply gliding across your palate. But be warned, pack your toothbrush as it will stain your teeth purple!
  • Ryan Woodhouse
    By: Ryan Woodhouse
    K&L Staff Member
    Like the Prisoner of old this wine is sourced from premier Zinfandel vineyards across the state from the Sierra Foothills to West Side Paso. Dave told me he couldn't (or wouldn't) be able to tell me the exact composition as he blends the wine with a strictly imposed double blind tasting process. He doesn't want anything to influence him away from simply making the best tasting California Red Blend he can. The wine comes from some 200+ potential lots, all small individual ferments that he singles out one at a time and incorporates into the master blend. This wine is everything you'd hope it would be and more and is sure to be a top seller this approaching holiday season (if there's any left by then)!


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