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The Prisoner Wine Company The Prisoner 2011

Other Red Blends from Napa Valley, California
  • WS92
15.2% ABV
  • WS91
  • WW91
  • RP92
  • WS91
  • WW90
  • JS90
  • WS90
  • RP90
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4.1 12 Ratings
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4.1 12 Ratings
15.2% ABV

Winemaker Notes

The wine has a dense red and black hue that is framed in vibrant crimson. Aromas of Bing cherry, espresso, roasted fig and vanillin oak accents are persistent. The entry is powerful and generous supported with lively acidity while flavors of ripe raspberry, pomegranate and wild berry fruit linger harmoniously. Soft, integrated tannin chains allow the wine to be approachable now and provides for a pleasant finish.

Blend: 51% Zinfandel, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah, 12% Petite Sirah, 2% Charbono, 1% Grenache

Critical Acclaim

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WS 92
Wine Spectator
Deep, jammed with fruit character, this ripe version offers plenty of new oak, revealing a rich texture and zesty flavors of smoky licorice, blackberry cobbler and cracked pepper.
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The Prisoner Wine Company

The Prisoner Wine Company

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The Prisoner Wine Company, , California
The Prisoner Wine Company
The Prisoner Founder and Winemaker Dave Phinney’s deep respect for the vineyards is rooted in an early attempt to make a sophisticated wine from a difficult site. Although he was frustrated by a situation that had him using every tool at his disposal and still coming up short, he learned lessons that inform his vineyard selection process now.

"I came away from that experience with the unshakable belief that if you put your emphasis on the vineyard, what follows is much easier," he says. "The vineyard is everything."

Most of Phinney’s time is spent exploring vineyard sites, meeting with growers and selecting the fruit that will be vinified and blended into The Prisoner. His method for vineyard selection includes assessing the site, soil, varietal, grower and provenance, or the history, of the vineyard.

"Sometimes one of these aspects is enough, other times it's a combination of a few of these elements," he says. "With provenance, looks can be deceiving, so you have to trust in the track record of a vineyard as opposed to what you see. Occasionally you step into a vineyard and can't get to your phone fast enough to call the grower and lock up the grapes. Those experiences are one of a kind."

Napa Valley

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One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production and tourism, the Napa Valley is the AVA that brought worldwide recognition to California winemaking. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two are St.-Helena and the valley's newest AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap District, and Mt. Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.

An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc, and on the Left Bank, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.

In the Glass

Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry, and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco, and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.

Perfect Pairings

Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.

Sommelier Secret

Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

UWWPRISON_2011 Item# 120617

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