Wine Review – 2005 Orin Swift Papillon Red Blend, Napa Valley, California


The back label of the bottle.

Winery: Orin Swift Cellars

Bottling: 2005 Papillon, Bordeaux Styled Red Blend (63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 7% Malbec and 2% Petite Verdot)

Region: California

Sub-Region: Napa Valley

Estimated Retail Price: $55

Purchase Details: Purchased at Tamura’s Fine Wine & Liquor in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Tasting Notes: This wine sports a dark, ruby red color in the glass.  On the nose, I smell sweet oak, cherries, berries and spice.  In the mouth, wow!  Generous loads of sweet cherries, wild berries, and a dusty spice.  The wine is dense and chewy, but more importantly, full-bodied but un-heavy.  Firm tannins and an insanely long, lip-smacking finish.

It’s a well-balanced wine that has a seamless flow of flavor from the first sip all the way to the lasting finish.  A thoroughly delicious wine.

Food Pairing & Context in Which to Enjoy: I’d love this with some really smooth mashed potatoes laden with a savory, drippy, soy and red wine braised short rib.

Scary hands on the front label.

Scary hands on the front label.

Winery & Other Background Information: I really dig winemaker Dave Phinney’s style and touch.  He manages to get maximum ripeness, as evidenced by the high alcohol in his wines, to get great body and flavor extraction in his wines without the wine seeming too heavy, clunky or flabby.

He knows how to pack a lot of flavor in his finished product.  There are some winemakers that just know how to make wine that’s just plain delicious, savory and laden with umami flavor regardless of grape variety.  The “Prisoner,” which is Orin Swift’s workhorse wine is a real flavor winner too and a Wine Spectator high score magnet too.

If you enjoy the wines of Orin Swift, you should also check out the wines of Beau Vigne. I believe Dave is also the winemaker at that property.  Their “Juliet,” which is the estate’s entry level Bordeaux styled red blend is absolutely delicious.


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