Post #30: Orin Swift Tasting Part 2

18 06 2010

Today’s article is the continuation of Monday’s post. If you missed it, be sure to check it out here, for more information on the producer and reviews on some really amazing red blends. Today I’d like to talk about the other three wines in Orin Swift’s line. Each of these wines is labeled by its varietal, although two of them are actually blended with trace amounts of other grapes, according to Dave Phinney’s detail oriented blending style. 

Wine #1: Orin Swift 2009 Napa Valley Veladora Sauvignon Blanc

I rarely find a Sauvignon Blanc from California that really impresses me. It typically gets too ripe in the warmth of the Golden State’s sunshine, and looses the intense, gripping acidity that this varietal is known and loved for. However, careful attention by a skilled winemaker and a little cooperation from nature can allow the seemingly extremely rare production of exceptional California Sauvignon Blanc. This is clearly the case with Veladora and with Orin Swift.

The aroma of this wine can probably best be defined as wide open and expansive. It’s so deep and complex that putting my nose to the glass was like entering a vortex into another dimension. It’s spicy and intense with rich gooseberry and grass tones. It’s positively loaded with fig aromas and there is an excellent amount of limestone to add depth to the fruit. I pick up on flower petals, lemon juice, peach, and orange oil, which make it incredibly fresh.

The palate opens with a delicate, ripe sweetness which gives way to exceptional minerality. There is then a faint spiciness, which leads to rich and intense ripe peaches, figs, and gooseberry. It has excellent, crisp acidity which is softened beautifully with notes of tropical fruit and flowers. The finish is fresh and yet almost oily, similar to that of a very well made dry Riesling. I’m extremely impressed by this wine’s refinement and balance, and it is quite possibly the best Sauvignon Blanc I have found from California. An absolute pleasure for this, or just about any other price, a definitely a wine… 

Worth Buying. 92 points.

Wine #2: Orin Swift 2008 Napa Valley Saldo Zinfandel

As I mentioned in Monday’s post, Orin Swift began with two tons of Zinfandel. Saldo is labeled by its primary varietal, but it’s actually a blend of 88% Zinfandel, 8% Syrah, and 4% Petite Syrah. In my personal shopping experience, it seems that Saldo is the most difficult wine in the Orin Swift line to find, but the following review will show that it’s worth the search.

The nose opens with spiced cranberry and tart bing cherry. There is a good amount of pepper and a deep, rich, earthy component. The terroir on this wine is quite impressive, and it shows black stone, and volcanic soil tones with deep dark herbal tones and the faintest touch of leaves.

The palate is silky and very delicately spiced. This is not one of those over the top zinfandels that topple over the palate with excessive alcohol. It’s incredibly refined and smooth with a certain Old World lightness and bright acidity. There are rich flavors of red plum and cherry, with a slightly leafy component, soft wildflower tones, and a good amount of earth. The fruit is ripe and plush, while the tannins still maintain a firm, caressing grip. This wine has excellent control over its alcohol and the structure is exceptional. A very well done effort, with nice complexity and a lingering coffee toned finish, this proves that Zinfandels have the capability to be more than just big, jammy wines to enjoy at a backyard barbeque. Nicely done and excellently priced, a wine well… 

Worth Buying. 91 points.

Wine #3: Orin Swift 2007 Napa Valley Mercury Head Cabernet Sauvignon

The only wine in the Orin Swift line that is not a blend of some kind, Mercury Head is 100% Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Every bottle is labeled simply with an authentic Mercury Head coin, creating not only a package as unique as a wine inside, but also a collector’s item to remember this special treasure by.

This wine’s aroma is extremely concentrated with deep, dark smoke and black stone aromas at first. The cloud of initial darkness gives way to bramble fruit, rose vines, and exceptional dark fruit tones. There is an impression of sea fog, blueberry preserves, cigar wrappers, and the softest touch of cacao powder.

The palate opens with incredible smoothness and unbelievable deep violet and blueberry tones, accented by lavender, berry and plum preserves, dark wild honey, and black stone. There is a touch of tobacco, an herbal note, and the softest note of pine needles toward the finish.

I have only given one other wine (The Royal Tokaji Company’s 5 Puttonyos Tokaji) a score this high, and a wine really needs to be exceptional for me to do so. Mercury Head is the most deserving Napa Valley Cabernet I have encountered yet (and it was up against the likes of both big names like Cakebread and Caymus, as well as smaller boutique producers like Alpha Omega.) Its excellent plushness, combined with its exceptional depth of earth, fruit, and floral tones on every layer of its being, in addition to its amazing concentration, Mercury Head truly is fantastic. Probably the best buy in the Napa Valley at just under $80, this is without a doubt… 

Worth Buying. 95 points.

Please Leave a Comment:

The Grapevine: Have you ever tried an Orin Swift wine, and if so, what did you think of it?


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2 responses

24 06 2010
RobinC

I have a bottle of The Prisoner but haven’t opened it yet.

24 06 2010
Tyler Worth

Hey Robin,
Glad to hear you found a bottle. Let me know what you think once you try it… or even better, write a review on Cork’d :) Cheers.

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