Nearly two summers ago I had my first exposure to the Orin Swift Papillon. While Notes did not fully profile the wine at that time, it did make the Top 10–high praise given the 400+ bottles covered in these pages. I’m here to say the 2017 vintage continues that standard of excellence.
2017 Papillon, Orin Swift Wines, Napa Valley, California, USA.
It’s a bordeaux-style blend, a new release that mixes five different grapes (cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, petit verdot, malbec, and merlot) sourced from throughout Napa Valley. After pulling the cork you’ll be greeted by big, rich scents of blackberry and pepper, and an inky reddish purple that’s probably the color of blood before it hits oxygen. My first sip was too soon–the wine had not yet had a chance to breathe and was slightly tart. After sitting for 15-20 minutes during a late-night dinner prep, the Papillon settled into a deep, flavorful dark fruit medley. Definite blackberry or black cherry scents wafting (maybe cedar or spice box?) heavenly from the glass…lip-smacking goodness.
This is from our winemaker friends at Orin Swift: “Intensely layered and decadent on entry, the wine exudes characteristics of black plum, boysenberry, kirsch and dark chocolate with a silky soft yet weighty texture. A prolonged finish of Provençal lavender, fig leaf and ripe currants close out the wine.”
The 2017, a very special gift that I appreciated on multiple levels, is aged for 15 months in French oak (43% new) barrels to very good effect. It delivers a nice, easy finish for a wine with so much gravitas. Special shout out for the great photo and my favorite company. The Phinney magic touch continues again for another year…
This is the 2016 Juggernaut Hillside Cabernet and yes, for those of you asking, this guy can be swayed by cool branding. Check out this crazy fierce label! It’s as big as the wine itself, and you’ll do well to go looking for it in your favorite wine store / source.
2016 Juggernaut Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon, Clarksburg, California, USA.
The Juggernaut is produced by the Bogle family, and you know they’ve been at this game for quite some time. My winestore source said they’ve been growing grapes for winemaking since 1968 and in the Clarksburg area in particular. Here they combine grapes from the North Coast, Livermore Valley, Alexander Valley, and the Sierra Foothills–all hillside terrior and vineyards going into this luscious bottle. Obviously with all the hillside talk you have this inference of “hard growing” and “extreme” (and hell, isn’t just about every vineyard photo you see on some kind of a mountain?!?) but know for our purposes it ultimately translates into really nice, easy-drinking California cab. Yes hillside can mean fewer grapes and smaller berries, but that also means concentrated flavors and complexity in the wine itself.
Not every hillside wine gets this right, but the Juggernaut does. There is big, dark blackberry-type flavors in the 2016, and maybe just a whiff of vanilla too. I suspect the new French oak barrels (its aged 12-18 months) have something to do with that. The 2016 Juggernaut (I have two more of these) is really nice value for the price. It’s accessible wine, both for your wallet and your palate. I enjoyed over a couple of nights and will look forward to the next such occasion. Thanks for following Notes and feel free to share with a friend.
This is a bottle, according to my best source at winestore, that far outperforms its modest price tag. He’s a huge advocate and claims to put away a case of this himself each time the store orders more. I usually select wines for different reasons but that was one of many compelling reasons that the 2017 Orlaida came home with me yesterday.
2017 Orlaida, Gil Family wines, Montsant, Spain.
The 2017 Orlaida comes from the Gil Family winery in the Jumilla region of Spain. The grapes are grown more than 2,000 feet above sea level in the area of Cornudella de Montsant, where the soils are supposed to be reminiscent of pro-Priorate terroir. The wine is a blend of Garnacha and Carinena grapes, dark fruit flavors with just a hint of spice in its underpinnings. I’ve heard others talk of a vanilla note or too in the Orlaida, but here in the 2017 I don’t detect that at all. I’ll tell you that what I like about Syrah wines is what I enjoy about this Orlaida…
Mexican-spiced shrimp tacos with guac and spicy cabbage slaw.
The 2017 Orlaida accompanied Mexican-spiced shrimp tacos, with guacamole and spicy cabbage slaw. Though you’d probably offset the spices of this meal with a clean white, I generally eschew whites in favor of reds—as here. I thought the smoky flavor of the shrimp paired nicely with this Spanish red and would encourage you to do the tacos or the wine when you can. Made for a great Saturday bite and hopefully does the same for your table or family too.