Orpheus Wines Red Over Heels Blend (4)

Orpheus Wines Red Over Heels Red Blend 4-Pack
$59.99 $124.00 52% off List Price
2011 Orpheus Wines Red over Heels, North Coast
CT link above

Winery website


I’ve been using these for homemade wines for years, they’re great. First production wine I’ve ever seen to use them!

The monkey delivered a bottle of the 2011 Orpheus Head Over Heels to my doorstep. I’ve been on the road most of the last two weeks, but this week it’s a driving trip. So I brought the bottle along, planning to enjoy it. I thought this offering was supposed to run on Wednesday, so I made plans to open the bottle and get comments from my associate who is traveling.

Alas, I go to woot and see that the offering is up now. It’s past 11 pm, and I need to be at the job site by 7 am, so all I can do tonight is some limited tasting, with no opportunity to address evolution after opening. So forthwith, for what it’s worth ….

First it has a synthetic closure, with a spiral thingy that unwinds and leaves a plastic cap/stopper arrangement. Good for resealing. Nose from the bottle is deep, fruity, and intriguing. The only “glasses” at my Holiday Inn Express are those disposable sealed plastic cups, so that will have to do.

Nose is dominated by red fruits, with some earthiness/woodsiness. Nose diminishes rapidly after pouring into the cups – might be the less than ideal drinking vessel. Color is dark purple and nearly opaque.

First sips. Very forward and open even with no breathing, and the cab franc/merlot backbone is very evident, with cab franc carrying more than its share of the load. Even though the cab franc is 42%, its character is more evident to me in this wine than in some unblended cab francs I’ve enjoyed. Must have been some powerful cab franc that went into this offering.

The fruits of the PS and merlot are also present, combined their presence seems about equal to the cab franc. Acidity and heat are nicely balanced, and some tannins appears after a few minutes. The tannins continue to hold and develop, even as the flavor start to fade. The bite also holds on along with the tannin. The flavors stay forward in the mouth; there is little flavor persistence in the back of the palate.

The description says black pepper notes. I’m not getting any of that, though I am definitely pulling in the green pepper from the cab franc.

Frankly, there’s a lot going on with this wine. As noted, the cab franc is quite well represented on its own, even though this is a blend. The PS and merlot then add their parts on top of this. I do find it quite drinkable. The balance and acidity should make it a good food wine, if paired with something appropriate.

We are one of a handful of wineries using the Zorks in our area. We love them because: they help fulfill our sustainability commitment by being recyclable and reusable, they reduce the required steps at bottling and they have about the same oxygen permeability as standard corks which maintain the freshness of the wines.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to taste and review the wine. I’ve found I enjoy this wine more now than when we bottled it. This wine has long legs and it keeps going.

Totally agree - we’ve been using them on all of our bottles from the very beginning. They allow for micro-oxygenation so the wines have been aging beautifully; there’s no chance of a corked wine; and the Zorks are both reusable and recyclable, which is awesome from a “waste less wine” and “waste less waste” perspective.

Monkey dropped this off a few weeks ago and had an opportunity to drink some of it (see below)

First off, I was turned off by the cap. Never seen one before and it felt cheap though it might be my unfamiliarity. However, the wine made a fizzy noise when openned which made me wonder if the cap had something to do with it?

On to the wine. I was excited by the interesting blend of predominantly Merlot and Cab Franc. Unfortunately, the wine and/or blend did not cut it for me.

I had a hard time discerning any aromas that are typical of the above, ie cherry and spice for the merlot and earthiness and green pepper for the CF. The aromas were very muted. It all went South once I tasted the wine. It reminded me of Welch’s grape juice which I have encountered maybe once before. The wine was flabby and lacked any acidity to make it lively. I fought through one glass and poured asecond really wanting to like it because as many of you know I support small production wineries, especially from Sonoma County but could not finish it. It felt like a homemade wine or from an amateur winemaker. I am in NO WAY putting down the winery/winemAker but stating my honest, unbiased notes. I poured my wife a glass without sharing my thoughts and the first thing she said was “taste like grape juice” which validated my own experience.

Maybe it was an off bottle? Any comments from winery?

Well on that mixed bag of reviews so far, I’m in for 1/2 as I’ve found a friend to split it with. This is the first domestic wine I’ve seen with Zorks (have enjoyed several Australian wines with them) and so far I haven’t noticed any adverse effects from the corks.

Here’s hoping this is a good one!

I’m all for the “down with cork” movement in a big way, but why not screw tops? Sustainable, recyclable, and not zork.

I still don’t understand this. Plastic and metal enclosures cause much more greenhouse gas pollution (and come on - no one really recycles them!). Cork is a sustainable natural material. https://winingways.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/cork-the-argument-for-sustainability/
I don’t care if a winery uses metal or plastic, doesn’t stop me from buying. But why push for the move?

I love that the positive review is from plastic hotel cups and the not so positive is from a traditional wine glass.

Thank you for your question. We chose Zork for many reasons. Yes, natural cork can be recycled or reused in art products, shoes or coasters. But, you still run the very real risk of TCA(cork taint), it’s slow to get back into recirculation, and corks are not remotely reusable in the bottle (and how many people actually save and make cork boards?).

Screw caps are recyclable and reusable. However, they do require quite a bit of energy to recycle and can only be reused on screw cap/stelvin bottles. Also, the wines using screw caps tend to be reductive and lead to wines not quite as fresh and often vegetal or sulphurous, not to mention requiring specialized equipment to bottle.

Zorks have steady state oxidative quality to them. This means that the wines stay fresh and continue to evolve in the bottle. There is no danger of cork taint from the closure. You can still get it from winery equipment but this is far less likely and would involve every bottle if this were to occur. The Zorks are reusable as originally designed. We use them on other bottles, give them to friends as bar tops, and I’ve even used a Zork to keep champagne fresh and effervescent for over a month! Also, recycled plastics are the fastest material to get back into circulation with the lowest energy input, assuming you’re done reusing them.

Fair point, but I can’t find the text of any of the studies cited. My main concern would be if the studies include transportation and recycling costs because shipping cork from Spain/Africa to Australia = $$$/CO2. Whereas if synthetic closures can be had at dramatically reduced shipping costs, that reframes the whole “sustainable” argument.

ETA: I totally have added the Zorks I’ve collected over the years to my wine stopper rotation. They hold up to dishwashing just fine.

Hi losthighwayz – thanks for taking the time to taste and review our wine. I think I may be able to offer some explanations that would reconcile your review with noslenj’s seemingly opposing (and admittedly much more favorable) critique:

  1. the Zork closure: research definitely shows that whether you think a wine is cheap or expensive influences your taste experience. Wondering if your impression of the wine may have been “Zork-tainted”…? :slight_smile:
  1. My winemaking philosophy is to make food-friendly wines that respect the innate flavors of the grape, not to overpower the palate with secondary flavors from the barrel. In this way, we feel we get a truer expression of the climate and soil of the vineyard site. So, it is true that this wine may have a stronger fruit-forward flavor than the super oaky, high alcohol, tannin heavy wines that (I’m guessing?) you may be used to. Personal preferences certainly come into effect and are totally valid for each individual. We will say that this is certainly a wine that people feel strongly about, but in our experience since we released it over a year ago most have been quite positive.

I invite you to try pairing the wine with dark chocolate, grilled beets, or Chinese food; as a food-friendly wine with high acidity (pH is actually 3.6, which is quite low for a red), this wine really shines when allowed to breathe and paired with food.

By the way, we are really enjoying the conversation and engaging with everyone! Thank you very much.

Thanks for jumping on board! I actually enjoy the more restrained wines as opposed to oak fruit boms and or high alcohol wine. I am by no means a connoiseur but have found my palate “sweet spot” recently. You are coreect, maybe tjhe enclosure had an effect on what i was baout to drink but I do not think it was so much that it impacted my notes. I was surprised by the ph being 3.6 since I did not get the acidity one would expect. I am curious as to other varietals you produce as well as winemaking philosophy. Cheers!

Thanks for jumping into the fray.

We’ve seen Zork closures here before used by Don Sebastiani & Sons for at least their Paso Project line, and after seeing them I went and purchased a bag of them to use on bottles I don’t finish but backfill with Ar. Push them on tight, or they will seep.

I was a bit surprised on your Stelvin comment and the wines they might be found on, as they too are available with controlled OTR inserts. There are a couple producers the woot crowd is quite familiar with the use them successfully on their flagship bottles.

But, can you expand a bit on the fruit sources and elevage used with this blend.

I have no interest in telling you how to run your business or bottle your wines, but this portion of your post is just not true.

There have been a great number of scientific* studies that have shown that screw top wines remain incredibly fresh and vibrant. There are sealers in the screw tops that allow a controllable amount of oxygen transmission that can be decided by the winery. If a winemaker decides to use a sealer that allows no oxygen, then reductive flavors could appear. However, claiming that screw caps cause reduction in wine is just not an accurate statement.

Also, a closure (and the potential failure thereof) can not create vegetal aromas or flavors in a wine as those are caused by various methopyrazines that are in the actual grapes. And similarly, sulfurous aromas and flavors come from the addition of SO2 to the wine. It is completely disconnected from the closure.

I can’t argue with you about the specialized equipment part, though. :slight_smile:

*Scientific is a tricky term when it comes to wine, but the studies were and remain strong enough that the vast majority of Australian wine is under screw top and more and more wineries are starting to use them.

**I’m not ITB whatsoever. I’m just a casual hobbyist and all of the above is what I believe to be true based on my reading and participation in this hobby. I could, of course, be wrong.

Edit: also, posting this link (http://lifehacker.com/5990737/why-we-cant-tell-good-wine-from-bad) is ridiculous. That type of debunking has been debunked many a times by many a wine tasters. If you ascribe by that type of logic, why spend an extra dollar anywhere in your wine-making process? If it all tastes like $2 Chuck, why buy yours at $15/btl?

I don’t actually care much about the environmental aspects of any wine closures. I just hate cork because of a) the possibility of TCA taint and b) the bottle variation that increases the older a wine gets due to the different permeability levels of different corks.

We produce a number of varieties. Currently besides the red blends; Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Viognier, Orange Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Rose of Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. If we can find the right grower we will likely add Grenache soon.