Orin Swift cellars was started in 1995 by David Phinney. After working a harvest at Robert Mondavi and planting experimental blocks of Zinfandel in Arizona, in 1997 Phinney began developing his debut wine brand, The Prisoner, a blend of California Zinfandel, Cabernet and Petite Sirah that rocketed to success shortly after it launched. Keen not to be shackled by its success, Phinney sold The Prisoner in 2008 to concentrate on his boutique brand, Orin Swift, named after his father’s middle name and mother’s maiden name.
This brand has gained cult status across the USA for not only its high quality wines, but also for the quirky labels and the stories behind them. The philosophy at Orin Swift is simple – find the best grapes they can, let them hang and ripen, and then express the profile of the fruit in the boldest, most expressive way possible. The result is wines that are unapologetically high in alcohol, wines where monstrous fruit concentration is to the fore and a small, considered use of old French barrels is only there to season and soften the wines.
An opaque core with a red amethyst rim, the wine opens with ripe raspberry and blackberry, dark plum preserves and hints of black pepper and clove. An entry of heft, the palate is packed with blueberry and sweet black cherry along with touch of fresh herbs—thyme, savory and tarragon. Long on the finish, the ripe tannins, a dash of ash, and notes of black tea round out the wine.
Grape(s): Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache