When my friend Bill Murray at Luxury Limousines asked me to write a blog about wine, I askedmyself what could I possibly contribute?
I had a gnawing sense of wine ignorance magnified by minimal understanding of the wine language...horticulture?, enology? Malolectic Fermentation?...yikes... and thus a lack of confidence about what to write.
And then it dawned on me like the moment a strong mountain cab explodes on your tongue...rippling a squadron of flavors across your mouth. I like wine. I really like it. And more importantly I know why I like it.
Wine in my life has become a connective force. Whether it's having a post-work glass of The Prisoner with Kimberly while watching Top Chef Masters, a bottle at dinner (Jarvis maybe) with close friends selected to enhance the brilliance of Patrick Mulvaney's menu (or a Morton's Steak) or a Luxury Limousines journey to Napa to see old friends (Hello Ralph at Krug!!) and make some new ones (Hello Collin at Larkmead), wine sharing is a comfortable, centering method of life enhancement. It's a social endeavor with no rights, no wrongs...just opinions, tastes which leads to discussions, which leads to friendships...and isn't that what life is about?
So with that as a backdrop...no wine has been a deeper connective force for me than "The Prisoner" by Orin Swift Cellars. During one of my many tastings some less than sober cat once blabbed every wine should have a story...even BE a story. For me The Prisoner is that wine...that story.
So here's the story.
Picture if you will, sitting with a group of friends at Auberge du Soleil. Outside patio. Scent of flowers and great conversation permeating the perfect 73 degree afternoon. The current bottle of BV reserve is running dry and by your internal calculations you're next to order/purchase. The wallet is a little thinner than you wish it was and worse the wine list of over 1500 carefully selected bottles is beyond intimidating. It's considered by many to be the finest wine list in the country.
So I do what my old hockey coach told me. KISS theory. Keep It Simple Stupid.
1. Recognize that everyone at the table had been enjoying the red blends.
2. Assume there are red blends somewhere in their book (crazy wine list).
3. Pray there's one under $100.
4. Hope that the server doesn't laugh at you when you order.
As you may know 'assume', 'pray' and 'hope' are all bad strategies....but it was all I had.
So halfway down the page, amidst the Hills, the Cellars, the Reserves, and the Vineyards I came across "The Prisoner". Seriously, who names their wine "THE PRISONER". A little Goth, a little morbid. A little crazy.....hmmmm...I like that. I also like the $66 price tag.
Let's take a chance on a wine that took a chance. Maybe I'm stumbling onto a new generation of rogue winemakers who don't spend their time and money on decorating their tasting room but rather on good old fashion R&D. At this point, in my head I already had a story. I ordered a wine with the most ludicrous name I had ever seen.
Six to seven minutes later, our server emerged from the cellar and stood by me with a strange smirk that only I had spotted through the glass tilting conversation that distracted the others. The table silenced as I inquired, "why the wry smile?"
"The servers here taste almost all the wines, it's part of the job", she said. "This one has become a cult favorite amongst the staff...and when I was making my way back from the cellar, the other servers were giving me head nods and finger points...We're big fans". So for the one AND only time in my life, I felt like a wine connoisseur.
The best part of the story and the real magic of the experience though is that THE PRISONER delivered. Layers and layers of flavors with the strength of a pure cabernet, a tobacco, blackberry spice with a slender, plush, multi-flavored finish. We all loved it.
Quick note here...The Prisoner is a featured wine on the Auberge du Soleil Private Menu.
THE PRISONER (and it's story) has now become local legend amongst my friends, a connective force if you will, as we have all shared it with others on birthdays, holidays, special dinners and gifts as well (think MAGNUM!).
Craig Amazeen is a frequent client of Luxury Limousines when in need of some Prisoner.