Back in the late 60’s when I was just a lad, there was a TV show that I loved called “The Prisoner.” Those were heady times: the Cold War was at its chilliest with the Cuban Missile crisis fresh in everyone’s mind. It also was the era of Sean Connery, who pioneered the secret agent genre with hits like James Bond, I-Spy, Man from Uncle and Get Smart!
If you don’t remember the show, it was about a unnamed British Spy, played by Patrick McGoohan, who storms into M6’s office and violently resigns. He happily drives home in a spiffy sports car and starts packing to leave his apartment when suddenly someone sticks an umbrella into the keyhole of his apartment door, filling the room with knockout gas. He wakes up in a little seaside town known only as “the village”. He is assigned a number (Number 6) and the next 17 episodes are of him trying to escape the village by getting around Rover, a menacing giant red beach ball that provides security for the village, and outsmarting his nemesis, Number 2. 2 was trying to find out why 6 had quit while 6 tried to find out where he was and what government he was up against. The underlying theme of the show was individualism versus collectivism.
Back then I wanted Number 6 to get out, foil the agency that had imprisoned him, beat the bad guys, stick it to the man with his “up yours” attitude, and make the world safe. Come on I was 13, I still had hope.
Today 60 year old Griffy would invite number 2 over for dinner, open a bottle of Brunello Di Montalcino, swap old spy stories, and discuss how we could get Rover to pick up litter and respond to my Life alert bracelet in case I had a medical emergency. And If I had to choose between escape or staying in the village, I’d grab a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and a picnic basket and peddle my bike down to the beach to watch the Millennial’s play tag with Rover while the gulls fly overhead.
So, why this trip down TV Land Lane? This week we are taking about Dave Phinney’s The Prisoner. While I think my vision of the Prisoner is better than the poor bastard in chains on the bottle’s label, let me tell you he at least has the honor of being the poster boy for a very good wine. In fact, The Prisoner is the most sought after domestic wine in America. This blend made Phinney a rock star debuting in 2003 and became such a huge success that he sold the franchise to Huneeus Vineyards for $40 million in 2010. Our bottle is 2012, the last year Dave had a hand in making the wine. No suffering here at all, just solid comfort in captivity.
The wine pours a nearly opaque deep purple, and the nose is an understated elegance of dark fruit. I expected a bulldozer based on the wines ingredients: 46% Zinfandel, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Pette Sirah, 12% Syrah and a dash of Charbono. I got a well-behaved heavy weight in a great-fitting suit with a nice finish. All in all, the Prisoner was a well-balanced, and just plain a lot of fun, wine to drink.
The wine is pricy by my standards, so naturally I’m very happy to have received the wine as a gift from my son and daughter-in-law so I didn’t have to spend the cash to have enjoyed it. The real winner here is Dave Phinney though, he’s the star, not the wine. The Prisoner is excellent, but it’s in the rear view mirror now and Dave has moved onto other creations. I’m most interested in his Locations series of wines; blends from Spain, France and Italy that are half the price of Prisoner. With talent like his, it may not stay that way for long!