We are working our way through anything and everything that Orin Swift can make. Papillon is the second-most-expensive wine they offer ($55-60), so purchase with caution. If you've ever browsed the wall of Cabernet at your local wine shop, there is a good chance you have seen the Papillon label, with its distinct knuckle tattoos. I know you've not been privy my written thoughts on all of the Orin Swift wine I've had (The Prisoner, Abstract, Machete, D66, Veladora), but Papillon is the most drinkable and probably a wine that everyone would like.
The wine blends 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc; it has great balance and I just wish it was one-third the price so I could drink this with everyone I know. Watch out for the 15.1% alcohol, because I do not think it was noticeable. I would gladly buy this again as an upscale wine to have with family and/or friends for a festive holiday meal. The easy part was picking the wine, the hard part will be parting with the $60.
Luna Vineyards had more of a wine-lounge feel to it than a more casual place for wine tasting, which may be what people talk about with the commercialization of Napa Valley compared to its humble roots. I remember less light in the main tasting room than the pictures on the website suggest, which gave it more of that posh, European lounge feel. But this place has good wine. (It was fascinating to watch as a wine producer from nearby brought over a case of its latest release to trade. How cool would it be to do that?!) I was not put off by the decor, but did feel a little intimidated by the staff who had little time for me as a relative wine novice.
I haven't had much exposure to sangiovese beyond a few Super Tuscans that position their tannins on the brute-force offensive. When I had this wine I knew a bottle was coming home with me. There's some heat here, but it burns for only a second and washes away clean. It has held up incredibly well while it waited for me to get nostalgic enough to crack it open. Now I'm just left wishing I'd bought more. Luna is currently in the 2007 release, which is listed for $40. I really like this wine. Maybe I'll try the 2007 or maybe I'll break this bad habit I have developed recently of ordering wine directly from these boutique wineries and shipping it across the country. Anyone want to split S&H with me?
This is an exciting bottle from the moment the cork is removed. I have experienced few wines with as much aromatic presence as this has. For a moment I even considered not drinking it because if I did I would have nothing left to smell...but that was a very brief moment. This wine has a tremendous balance of flavors from its blend of 50% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot. The subtle tannins and light acid give Lateral depth without losing focus. The wine has great, creamy texture and it lingers in your mouth for an enjoyably long time. This wine really perpetuates my feeling that Merlot, when done well, can be excellent.
The 2005 is no longer available from the winery, but the 2006 is listed at $36. At that price point, this is not an everyday wine for anyone I know. But this is a great wine for an occasion of any magnitude.
The Starry Night Winery currently makes six Zins. One of them, the Old Vine is...old vine, so in Zinfandel terms it is a more premium product. I was hoping that I would find this wine to be too complex -- I was hoping that I wouldn't like it so I wouldn't be tempted to buy more. Instead, this was a tremendously smooth wine and I really liked it. I don't recommend this wine as an everyday wine, but if you feel like spending more than $20 for a bottle you can be proud of, this certainly meets the requirements. This is a pretty big wine that can stand up to a lot of foods.
For what it is worth, I only had one complaint and it is easily remedied. This wine is a little hot. The downfall of Zinfandel is the alcohol content can be quite high, like it is here. Don't be scared, just plan ahead. This wine needs to mellow. Either decant it or maybe throw it in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving. Both options will relax the high alcohol content and make it more drinkable.