The Prisoner Wine Company Unshackled Red 2019
A purity of fruit is evident, featuring aromas of raspberry, blueberry, and crushed violets. Flavors of spiced dried cherries, florals, and a hint of white pepper translate to a balanced wine that’s uplifting, supported with a generous mouthfeel.
The Prisoner Wine Company’s eponymous first wine was inspired by the drinkable “mixed blacks” made by the Italian immigrants who originally settled in Napa Valley. Since launch, The Prisoner soon became recognized as one of the most innovative Napa Valley wines, leading the resurgence of California red blends and earning “cult wine” status. Now complemented by a white blend (Blindfold), Chardonnay (The Snitch), Cabernet Sauvignon (Cuttings), Zinfandel (Saldo), Merlot (Thorn) and a Red Blend (Dérangé), The Prisoner Wine Company’s winemaking philosophy remains the same: To collaborate with a family of growers throughout California’s best winegrowing regions to craft wines of exceptional quality and unexpected character.
The Prisoner Wine Company acquires grapes from more than 100 vineyards throughout California’s premier grape-growing regions, partnering with phenomenal growers who are dedicated to cultivating unique varieties. Chrissy Wittmann and her team of winemakers collaborate with this family of growers, visiting each vineyard site throughout the year to carefully assess the style and quality of every lot to make the best possible wine from each vintage.
California is a winemaking colossus; by itself it is the fourth largest producer in the world. Red wine accounts for 56% of the total by volume, and red grapes 63% of total acres planted. In addition, a number of California red wines are heralded as being among the most prestigious and sought-after wines in the world.
While the state’s incredibly diverse geography, soils and microclimates allow for a wide array of styles, the key factor unifying California red wine is the abundance of sunshine and a long, consistent growing season. This leads to well-developed fruit marked both by impressive ripeness and balancing acidity.
The state’s most famous red wine region, of course, is Napa Valley, where Cabernet Sauvignon reigns as king. But California boasts a wealth of other impressive appellations. The much larger and climatically varied Sonoma County also produces world class California Cabernet, along with wonderful examples of California Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.
Fine versions of Cabernet and Zinfandel hail from Paso Robles as well, which is also gaining fame with Rhone varietals like Syrah and Grenache. As for Pinot Noir, terrific examples can be found from AVA’s such as Anderson Valley, Carneros, Santa Lucia Highlands and Sta. Rita Hills. Wineries in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties are making wonderful Syrahs, and the Sierra Foothill appellations are proving to be an experimental hotbed, with Italian and Spanish varietals employed to great effect.
This of course is a mere sketch. The subject of California red wine is as deep and broad as an ocean, and absolutely a joy to explore!