Monday, September 7, 2009

September Wine Month - My Own Selection

On Friday, one of our readers described how an off-beat name (Quackenbush) led her to discover a wonderful little wine. I have a similar story.

During a wine tasting trip to Napa about a year ago, out party stopped at Dean & Deluca for lunch. While waiting for our sandwiches to be made, I wondered over to their wine area, where I quickly became lost in the in the seemingly endless rows of reds.

While I recognized a few of the larger wineries, quite honestly virtually all of the bottles seemed to be simply variations on a theme – same size bottle, semi-interesting label and price points that were a little on the high side for me take a chance on.

However, all of that changed in an instant, when I came across a bottle that simply had a black and white picture of a man’s hands as its label. The name of the name of the wine – “Papillon” appeared to have been tattooed (hopefully temporarily!) on each of his visible fingers.

Two things struck me immediately – first “Papillon” brought to mind the movie by the same name which stared a very young Dustin Hoffman, and one of my all time favorite actors, Steve McQueen. Second, the man’s hands were filthy! I wondered why on earth would a winery choose to make dirty hands its selling point?

Whatever it was, their marketing ploy worked on me, as I picked up this one bottle out of literally thousands to choose from for a closer examination. After examining the hands a little bit closer, I turned the bottle over and immediately smiled – there was a familiar name – Orin Swift! Their marketing of first release – “The Prisoner” (which was the subject of an previous guest blogger) also featured a unique picture of a man in chains.

Without even checking the price, I headed to the cash register. I simply had to share this bottle with my friends who were with me. Of course I did get a another little surprise at the register – the price was only in the $50 range – not bad at all for a Napa Valley Red Wine that contains over 50% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Returning to our limo, I proudly showed off my purchase, and before the bottle came back my way, it was nearly gone as we simply enjoyed it with our sandwiches as we headed off to our next winery.

This wine is still one of my favorites – I especially like its finish, which seems to last forever, which is about as long as I hope to remember the how, why and when I first picked up a bottle of this wine. (PS - the dirty hands? I later learned that they were the hands of a field worker who had picked some of the grapes that went into Papillon - and yes, the tattoo was temporary).

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