2017 Papillon, Orin Swift Cellars

Birthday celebrations for loved ones–yes, that’s how you do wine. Especially great wine, like the 2017 Papillon from Orin Swift Cellars (yes, you all know I’m a massive fan). We uncorked this bottle after a long work week, allowing it to decant and really open up before tearing into it.

2017 Papillon Red Wine, Orin Swift Cellars, St. Helena, California, USA.
2017 Papillon Red Wine, Orin Swift Cellars, St. Helena, California, USA.

I’ve had the good fortune to enjoy Papillon on several prior occasions, including a 2017 and through various tasting banks at my favorite wine store. This one was, in fact, a gift from Cara (the sibling to the 2017 referenced previously), so no better way to enjoy than in celebration of her trip around the sun. 

It’s a powerhouse wine, a big red in the Bordeaux style but with new world traits. The 2017 Papillon is a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, and Malbec grapes, and yet it has a smooth, even finish. The mouthfeel is luscious and full, with black berry fruits and just a hint of oak and pepper (is that the Verdot?) in the nose. It’s velvety and fruitful to the point you almost want to try chewing it. This is superb wine (aged in French oak for 15 months) that makes any event into a special occasion. 

Says our winemaker, “Powerful aromatics escape the glass with rich notes of ripe blackcurrant, blackberry, peppercorn, and a touch of chaparral supported by a frame of sweet oak.

Cara and I had this bottle of 2017 Papillon with New York strip steaks, pan-seared with butter and rosemary, baked potatoes, and roasted broccolini. The steaks were a little thinner than we’d have liked, but cooked to the right temps and their flavors paired well with the wine. I was so very pleased by the opportunity to share in the festivities and this great bottle of wine! Looking forward to so many more of both… 

2015 Pinot Noir, Kosta Browne and 2018 Machete, Orin Swift Cellars

Yes, fellas, it’s Draft Weekend 2021, and time to enjoy brotherhood that is decades in the making. Friendships cemented in laughter, tears, triumph–and more trash talk than time can count. Our once-yearly tradition continues, this time from the sands and shores of the Atlantic.

2015 Pinot Noir, Keefer Ranch, Kosta Browne; 2015 Pinot Noir, Gap's Crown Vineyard, Costa Browne; 2018 Machete Red Wine, Orin Swift Cellars
2015 Pinot Noir, Keefer Ranch, Kosta Browne, Russian River Valley, California, USA; 2015 Pinot Noir, Gap’s Crown Vineyard, Costa Browne, Sonoma Coast, California, USA; 2018 Machete Red Wine, Orin Swift Cellars, St. Helena, California, USA.

These are among the many gems of the weekend. Yes, we have cellar defenders for the afternoon and the various competitions underway (and certainly no shortage of other adult beverages), but for me this is one of the highlights. This group knows serious wine, and brings plenty to share.

Yes, Saeger, I’m chuckling over box wine breakfast, but it’s the 2015 Kosta Browne combo and the 2018 Machete that headline the event. The Machete came out first–rich, purple-red goodness with plum and pepper flavors–and this Petite Sirah-Syrah-Grenache blend stepped up the evening for a time. The Pinots followed shortly after, but they were unfortunately part of the downward spiral of debauchery that still often marks our happy occasions together. All of us enjoying the fruits of our labors had spent long hours sipping other drinks and probably no longer held the palate for these sophisticated wines.

The 2021 Auction will long have its place in our memories, but this time because of the friendships rather than these wines. I’d gladly have another go at any one of them on a day where the wine is a centerpiece rather than a hapless accessory.

2017 The Cuttings Cabernet Sauvignon, The Prisoner Wine Company

Number 500! It’s a great pleasure to share with you all post #500 on Notes Of Note. Only recently did I realize Notes was approaching this milestone and glad that a New Year’s Eve bottle rings the bell.

I’m thinking about death by 10,000 paper cuts. Water over Niagara Falls. All these metaphors and images about slowly chipping away at it over time. Gladwell’s notion that you need 10,000 repetitions to achieve mastery of a given skill…none apply to Notes so let me simply say I’m pleased to still be at this occasional hobby after all these years.

A 2010 wine (I think?) led off this blog back in 2011, and I encourage you to check it out. My motives are intact. The format is largely unchanged, a mix of time, places, a casual photo…perhaps a little research or the winemaker’s comments to explain further? Those are all staples of the column nearly a decade later.

2017 The Cuttings Cabernet Sauvignon, The Prisoner Wine Company, Oakville, California, USA. For notes on previous years of this flight, please click here for the 2016, 2015, and 2014.

What’s different? My understanding of how many thousands of oenophiles do this same thing, embrace this same love of wine, tasting, and sharing. All the Vinvo, Wine.com, and Instagram apps and accounts devoted to wine tasting. Still thousands more tackle the process, the vineyards, and the related foodstuffs that go hand-and-glove with wine.

Also different from that simple start are my tastes. There are dozens of grapes, varietals, and wines covered here, including Cabs and red blends (more than 100 each!), Pinot (72 at present), Zins (30+), and even rareties like Zweigelts. Anyone reading from the origins of the column to its current posts show a clear and growing bias for California Cabernet Sauvignon, to jammy red blends and earthy new world Syrahs. Structured, dark-fruited wines, often with peppery accents and leathery notes. So if you are deciding on me as your wine influencer (ha thanks brother for the chuckle) be sure to base your choices accordingly.

And fans. New followers and tenured supporters, you know who you are!

This bottle has fans among my favorite people. Enjoyed it on birthdays, ECFF draft weekends, and my favorite dates. Including this one. We’re having the 2017 Cuttings with fondue to usher in the new year. There are two different kinds of bread (including a solid pumpernickel), two veggies (hello asparagus and broccoli!), and both filet and kielbasa (the latter a surprisingly great treat!) poised for our Gruyere/Swiss blend. I’ve had nearly as much fun looking up vintage fondue pots and recipes as I have sipping this amazing wine, courtesy of the Prisoner Wine Company.

It’s 80% of Cabernet Sauvignon (80%) and a blend of Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Zinfandel, and it’s as great as the first vintage I tasted years ago. Black berry fruit, black cherry, and earth spices—just exquisite winemaking! It’s so damn good that we’re not going to make it to the champagne tonight; this bottle of 2017 Cuttings is all the celebration we need. So here’s to milestones, and hoping for another 500 posts on Notes. Best to you all too in the year ahead.

Most importantly, thank you for your readership!

2017 Machete, Orin Swift Cellars

 

We all know that ‘normal’ life has taken on new meaning over these last weeks. Jobs, values, and activities that we’ve perhaps taken for granted have been fundamentally changed in ways that are still to be fully determined. Our connectivity to one another continues to evolve in near real-time, and one of the ways I keep my calm and share my values is here in Notes.

2017 Machete, Orin Swift Cellars, Saint Helena, California, USA.

2017 Machete, Orin Swift Cellars, Saint Helena, California, USA.

The 2017 Machete, a Milk Run release from Orin Swift Cellars, is a great reason to hit the keys. It’s a petite sirah, but the wine is anything BUT petite in taste. This Machete is actually a blend of Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Grenache grapes, and it packs a helluva wallop. It pours the darkest purple in your glass, as Notes has covered previously, and invests plum and blackberry in every sip. 

We had this 2017 Machete with Mexican-spiced shrimp lettuce (butter lettuce made great little cups!), black beans, and Poblano pepper. Navel orange and drizzle of garlic yogurt helped offset the spices of the shrimp, and though I suspect a crisp, minerally wine would have been the go-to choice for this food, we did the Machete thing instead—to great effect, I might add.

Our friends at Orin Swift say,

Massive on the entry, the mid-palate is diverse with flavors of dark plus, black pepper, Amarena cherries, slow-roasted Moroccan lam and a marbled leather texture.

Love this juice so very much…

Cara pointed out that you, dear readers, have a host of blogs to browse at present. I’m grateful that you’re taking a moment to check out this one—thanks and cheers to you all.

2017 Papillon, Orin Swift Cellars

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…

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.