2016 Thorn, Prisoner Wine Company

Let’s just start here—I’m “in” on anything from The Prisoner Wine Company. There’s of course the flagship wine and my obvious fandom of that great red bend, plus the Cuttings and Saldo that have been often chronicled in Notes too. And now I’m adding Thorn to the same list of PWC treats.

2016 Thorn, The Prisoner Wine Company, California, USA.

On this trip to Las Vegas I had occasion to spend a dinner (and this great wine!) with friends that go back all the way to my youth. We have reconnected frequently in recent years, and have been lucky enough to share a fun bottle of wine or two together on these gatherings. The setting—a quaint little restaurant situated beside a lake (yes, man made, CW!) and just a hint of holiday lights yet to come. You get to your table by walking through a wine store (“Marche Bacchus”) with a robust selection of imports and domestic bottles. I wasn’t quite sure what to pull but then stopped dead in my tracks upon seeing Thorn in a PWC box. 

Cool thing about this spot? There’s one price if you’re buying on the go, and a second rate if you’re going to uncork and consume your bottle at the restaurant. Bingo. So we’re in on Thorn, splitting it among four glasses that were absolutely gone too soon. Yes we followed Thorn with other grape treats but this Merlot blend was (at least for me…sorry Tony!) the hit of my evening. A lot of welcome character in the Thorn!

Thorn is a combination of merlot (80%) and other grapes—syrah, petite syrah, and white malbec. You can definitely taste that as you work your way through the wine, the layering of black cherry, dark chocolate, and maybe a bit of loam. You’ll stop and ponder your sip, because there’s clearly more than just merlot in play with the Thorn. Exceeded my expectations and had plenty of eager nods among our circle. For me, this 2016 accompanied a delicIous lobster risotto that was the perfect easy meal before a cross-country, red-eye flight home. 

Thanks so much for coming out to visit, friends, and special thanks to TW for treating us to the great dinner (and this wine)! Can’t wait to see you all again soon, and can’t wait to have another Thorn!   

2017 Machete Red Wine, Orin Swift Cellars

This fireball is still a tad young, but still beckons…an alluring bottle of red, a headsy blend that’s got a solid Petite Sirah backbone. The 2017 Machete from Orin Swift Cellars is probably meant to age far more than I allowed but sometimes it’s about today and it’s about now instead of the future.

2017 Machete

2017 Machete Petite Sirah, Orin Swift Wines, Helena, California, USA.

So flame on. This 2017 bottle of Machete is from a Milk Run, and I’ve got a couple more for days ahead. Tonight is a work night and crazy one at that so less notes from me this time. I’ve offered Machete tasting notes in the past (just run a quick search or filter for Petite Sirah) and you can be damn sure I’ll do so again too.

 

2016 Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah, Buena Vista Winery

This bottle of the Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah surprised me, as I didn’t realize when pulling the cork on this bad boy that it was completing a flight I had started several years ago. If you haven’t been paying attention (guilty here), Notes has actually hit on the 2015 vintage, the 2014, and the 2013 (my lord…tasted and noted but never pushed ‘live’ to the website) as well. That makes at least four of these in my book, people.

2016 Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah, Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma County, California, USA.

2016 Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah, Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma County, California, USA.

I’m more than a little wistful that I have tasted these vintages over the years instead of having the discipline to save and savor the wines all at once. On the other hand, I’m grateful to have occasion and means to come back to the Karoly’s Selection year over year to drink in this goodness.

Like previous vintages, the 2016 is an experience. It is a crazy purple in your glass, and its notes are pretty heavenly. Whiff and you’ll smell dark berry flavors. It has a subtle edge to it, a blueberry(?) or blackberry scent that grabs your attention right off the pour. The 2016 Karoly’s Selection is aged 15 months in 100% French, American, and Hungarian oak, 15% new oak according to our friends at Buena Vista.

Here’s how the Buena Vista team described the vintage: “Big round tannins with a richly textured mouthfeel, this wine showcases flavors of raspberry and dark cocoa with a touch of strawberry.” I’m usually in lock step with the BV team but did not get much strawberry in this sampling. That said, for many reasons, I have been coming back to Buena Vista for an extended period–I’m never disappointed and hope you find similar enjoyment in their wines.

 

2014 Veuve Clicquot Brut NV

Chapter Two started today, a notable milestone in many ways. Happy New Year, everyone! Notes doesn’t cover champagne all that often, but this was a special occasion and it just made sense to let the bubbly flow. I’ll remember this day for several reasons, this bottle of Veuve Clicquot among them.

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2014 Veuve Clicquot Brut NV, Champagne, France.

I managed the cork deftly, but still regretted the all-too-sudden geyser at the top of the bottle as the wine burst forth. Veuve Clicquot is good grapes, from the first fragrant rush in your glass to the last wisps on your lips. It’s nice and dry, scented of fresh crisp apples and a pleasure to sip whether you’re alone for the occasion or fortunate enough to have great company along to join you.

It’s late, and I’ve written about Veuve in the past on several prior New Year’s and similar celebrations. Like those events and cherished memories, this bottle and this day I hope to hold onto long in the future. May your own 2019 start with promise and thanks, as always, for your kind readership.

2016 Machete Red Wine, Orin Swift Cellars

Machete. The start of my spiral down into Orin Swift wines…the wine I still count as responsible for my descent into Dave Phinney’s genius, and still appreciate Jamie for sharing with me (indirectly) and George (directly) for my first sample. Um, my wallet says “thanks” fellas!

2016 Machete Red Wine, Orin Swift Cellars, St. Helena, California, USA.

2016 Machete Red Wine, Orin Swift Cellars, St. Helena, California, USA.

This is a shared wine, and that always makes for better grapes. This 2016 bottle of Machete came to me as part of a Milk Run, and I have high hopes for the next such release–now that we’ve hit the fall it must be coming soon, yes? Anyways, let’s talk about the here and now.

This 2016 Machete accompanied oven-broiled, pan-seared steaks (pulled just at the right time), roasted Brussel sprouts, and a baked potato. We thought the wine delicious, a shared experience of blackberry and dark fruits. The Machete is a compelling beverage, beckoning you on to more even if you’re not usually an aficionado of red wine.

And that was the case here. I love the Machete not only for its funky pop culture street cred, but also for its robust blackberry and minerality. It’s not mountain fruit, to be sure, but has hallmarks that you’ll appreciate if you gravitate in any way toward the Napa Mountains.

I’m thankful to have another 3 of these in the racks today. The 2016 Machete is a powerful, inky bomb that you’ll love. I know I do, and this one will stick with me for some time.