By Rick Riozza

Now that the 2019 pro football season is right around the corner, one odd thing that always comes to my mind is the tendency of many of the football players to readily and immediately point out (to the refs, I suppose) who moved first on the other team before the ball was hiked.  You’ve got enough referees watching on the gridiron already; all I see is a bunch of snitches.  But that’s minor stuff.

A couple of lifetimes ago, I was a criminal law defense attorney.  I re-call in the 80’s and 90’s, so many prosecutors (especially in the Feds) made their bread & butter by simply relying on snitches—no need for good old discovery work like we’d see on TV.   They’d haul in a bunch of free-range turkeys with such dubious offers: “Tell on your family & friends and stay out of jail free!”  The more pernicious problem was that the big fish turned tattle-tale to protect their empire while the drones and mules got their 20+ years being on the wrong side of the drug and pharmaceutical business.

Well—if there’s any rehabilitation for the odious term “snitch”, at least at the wine bar or in your wine circles, The Prisoner Wine Company has a new take on the term and is making “The Snitch” a man of mystery and intrigue.


This is what they write: “THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT HIM YOU JUST CAN’T PLACE…he’s not a person you would cross. You have this suspicion that he knows more than he’s letting on, that he has a depth he’s not disclosing, a past, layers hidden by layers. He’s listening, that much you can tell. Everything beyond that is a mystery. Words disappear into him like light into pitch black. Still, you’re intrigued. Still, you keep talking. You talk, and he listens. And you and he both know that every word could be the one that unravels you.”

Well how about that!!  You know we’re talking simply about Chardonnay blends here.  And lately, no one can package a wine as well as the Prisoner Wine Company (PWC). For this article we’re talking about two of their white wine blends: The Snitch and Blindfold.  And since labels are the PWC’s stock in trade, we’ll probably mention the labels as well. But let’s hear from them again:

So here’s their spiel about Blindfold—bringing to light a character whose appearance on the label shows he’s pretty tied up right now:  “They thought if he couldn’t see the world, then he wouldn’t make his mark. But a blindfold won’t hold him back. It just heightens his other senses. And whether they like it or not, his resilience will leave a lasting impression.

“Blindfold was created to be a companion white wine to the incredibly popular Zinfandel blend “The Prisoner” red wine. Similar to The Prisoner’s full-flavored and easy drinking style, Blindfold is a rich, satiny blend that is almost a meal in itself. Although the exact grape proportions will change from vintage to vintage, Blindfold has a solid Chardonnay base.”

Okay—let’s get up to speed: Many California wine enthusiasts know well Dave Phinney/Orin Swift and the Prisoner Wine Company.  When Phinney came on the scene in 1998, he began making fruit forward wines that dazzled our Cal quaffers.  His Cabernet Sauvignon/Zinfandel/Syrah/Petite Sirah wines & blends gave birth to such popular brands like Papillon, Machete, Abstract, Mercury Head, and of course, the workhorse The Prisoner. And, his wine labels were slick and humorously controversial.

So influential, Phinney was able to sell The Prisoner brand; and so began the Prisoner Wine Company, who continue to produce wines in that Orin Swift fashion—bold but complex.  (Dave Phinney continues to make several successful brands under his company, Orin Swift—ultimately owned by Gallo Family Wines)

By the way, PWC is owned by Huneeus Vintners, who also own Sonoma’s Pinot Noir/Chardonnay producer Flowers, and Napa based Quintessa.

PWC currently writes, “When creating our wines, we always look for fresh approaches to traditional varietals. For the 2017 Snitch, we combined Chardonnay from exceptional vineyards in warm Oak Knoll and cool-climate Carneros with just a touch of Viognier.  You Viognier fans will love this wine; fresh tropical fruit, apple, and pear on the nose. Lively and bright, great texture with your favorite aromatics.  The nuance of Fresh oak is also very appealing.

We enjoyed pairing The Snitch with a Portuguese Fish Stew.  The tasty summer soup, sort of like a Cioppino with savory paprika, would seem to be at home with a dry rosé, but this Chardonnay blend was a delicious match!

The Blindfold Chardonnay blend has been around for a few years now, tweeking itself every so often with different amounts of white Rhône and aromatic varieties.  The 2017 Blindfold is Chardonnay blended with Rousanne, Viognier and Muscat giving it a very distinct quality and character, bold and intriguing—which is why it’s so popular.

In Blindfold, you’ll find aromas of lychee, stone fruit, citrus, apple pie, and peach. Full and balanced with a lengthy finish. It’s aged for 10 months: 80% in a combination of French and Hungarian oak barrels, but here’s the kicker: 20% is aged in stainless steel, giving it a very lively feel with bright acidity and a touch of minerality, while maintaining a finish of rich and creamy flavors of lemon zest and caramel.  Definitely a Palm Springs’ aperitif and dinner wine.  Enjoy & Cheers to you!