Orin Swift Cellars Papillon 2018
A tale of juxtapositions, Papillon opens the door to any wine drinker. Orin Swift Cellars Papillon is a prime example of Orin Swift’s house style: accessible, massive and memorable. The bottle empties quickly, leading to slight disappointment, and the search for another bottle ensues.
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. 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.
A Bordeaux-style red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Merlot. It’s hard to find a blend that comprises of all these five varietals. The quality grapes come from long-time growers on both the Napa Valley floor and surrounding hillsides.
Aging for 15 months in French oak, 43% new.
Top Tip: Decant an hour before serving.
About the Label
The creative (if slightly disturbing gothic and grunge) style of Orin Swift labels encourage you to rethink wine through a different lens. Each label is an evocative expression of art that leaves a heart-skipping impression.
The label features the beautiful juxtaposition of a gorgeous word, ‘butterfly’, cast against harsh and gritty hands. A good friend and fellow winemaker, Greg Gorman photographed the label in black-and-white.
The label is inspired by contradictions. While walking through a vineyard with his three-year-old daughter on David Phinney’s shoulders and thinking about what to call his next wine, a butterfly flew by and his daughter exclaimed, “Look, a papillon!” Phinney was flummoxed as to where she had picked up the French word for butterfly.
It was on his mind to create a label featuring tattoos on someone’s knuckles. “Papillon has eight letters so the idea clicked. I love the juxtaposition of this beautiful French word on these really gritty hands,” says Phinney, who used one of his grape growers as a hand model. “He’s the nicest guy and a third generation old school farmer, which is exactly the look I wanted,” says Phinney.
Check out the other gorgeous Californian Reds we’ve got.
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
Packed with steeped blackberry, plum and fig notes, this red pumps a lot of fruit along, but there’s ample support, with roasted apple wood, licorice root and sweet bay leaf accents coursing underneath. Loamy-edged grip gives the finish a focused feel. Plenty here. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2022 through 2034.
Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 Bordeaux Blend Papillon springs from the glass with plum preserves, baked blackcurrants and black mulberries with touches of menthol, tobacco leaf and pencil lead. Full-bodied, the palate has a firm texture of ripe, grainy tannins with a lively line and a long earthy finish. 26,545 cases were made.