Back to Reality. With A Nudge from Orin Swift.

We all know that the post-vacation blues are real[1]. Re-entering the real world is rough; there’s no way around it, you just have to plow through and go back to work. I find that it’s easier to do this when you have a wine tasting to go to[2]. Friday evening rolled around and even though I’d only been back to work for three days, my mind was a bit mushy[3] and I was thirsty. It was clearly wine time.

File Mar 26, 9 23 00 PM

A local wine shop had been touting their Orin Swift tasting on Facebook all week, so I grabbed my girl Terry and headed over for a few swirls. Swift’s wine are something of a cult favorite; if you haven’t had the opportunity to try any, I would highly recommend it. So far I haven’t been disappointed.

Orin Swift’s wine origins go back to when Dave Swift Phinney “studied” abroad in Florence[4] in 1995 and fell in love with wine. In 1998 he founded Orin Swift Cellars and has been making wine ever since. He has quite a few brands under his umbrella; some have been sold off[5], and he continues to develop and innovate new products.

For the tasting we sampled six bottles of the Orin Swift 2014 vintage, starting with one of their “Location Wines[6],” Corse. This was 100% Vermentino, grown, produced and bottled in Corsica[7]. Ever since Anguilla, my brain and palate are ready for whites[8], and this was a great way to start the tasting. Definitely not one of those wimpy whites; there was almost a thickness to it, a lot of body. I got a hint of lemon, a bit on the sweeter side. I could see this going well with olives, ideally on the patio in Anguilla overlooking the ocean[9].File Mar 26, 9 24 01 PMNext up was Mannequin; a white blend, mostly Chardonnay with some Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne and Muscat thrown in for good measure. I got a really earthy nose out of this one. Almost a bit of straw, perhaps some charred wood. Very interesting, and certainly not your typical oaky, buttery Chard. I liked it enough to buy a bottle at $31, so you know it was good. Would also pair well with sand, ocean and the sunset.File Mar 26, 9 23 50 PMTransitioning from white to red, we landed next on the Fragile Rosé. Made from French grapes, mostly Grenache blended with Syrah and Carignan. Instead of Fragile, this could have been named Fraise[10]. Strawberry on the nose, strawberry on the palate. This was a strawberry wine. Don’t get me wrong. It was not strawberry in a bad, overly sweet and fruity way. More like a sweet, delicate strawberry, ripe for the eating. I didn’t get sweetness on the nose, and there was just a hint of sweetness on the finish. Light, crisp, perfect for a summer evening, on the beach. In Anguilla[11]. This is a new release for Orin Swift, and given rosé’s newfound popularity, I have no doubt it will do well, especially at the under $20 price point.File Mar 26, 9 23 15 PMNext up was Abstract, the first in a series of three reds. This is a blend of mostly Grenache with a bit of Syrah and Petite Sirah in the mix. Raspberry yogurt on the nose and on the palate. I almost got a hint of spice. It was a deep wine with nice body and a hint of soft tannins. Definitely a food wine; some cheese would have been perfect. Orin Swift wines are known not only for their fullness and flavor, but for the label designs. Abstract is a photo montage of famous and anonymous people alike, including the Queen[12], Elvis and Marilyn Monroe.

File Mar 26, 9 23 35 PMAbstract was followed by Palermo, a Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Merlot and Malbec. This had a nice Cab nose; it was a mouthful of deep, bold berries with a touch of oakiness[13]. This is another new release but it felt familiar, probably because the label reminded me of The Prisoner,[14] a wine that was, at one point, Phinney’s flagship brand; it has since been sold.

We ended the evening with a taste of Machete, a big bold blend of Petite Sirah, Syrah and Grenache. The nose was huge, but the mouthfeel was soft, almost light. Serenely smooth and luscious. Definitely left me wanting more[15]. This vintage was bottled with 12 different labels, a variation on a theme of a beautiful black woman in various seductive, if not violent, poses involving a machete and a white pimp mobile car[16].

No go on getting our wine tour guide to open up a bottle of Papillon, a Bordeaux blend that I hear is divine. It retails for around $70, so it’s not quite the price point one usually sees at a wine tasting, but maybe next time.

Thanks for going on this tasting with me. It certainly helped in my transition back to winter reality. Until the next glass!


Lawyer Footnotes

[1] Even Wikipedia knows it’s true. Some people call it Post-Travel Depression or PTD.
File Mar 26, 9 25 36 PM[2] Or a trip to France in less than 10 days. #FancyinFrancey
[3] That may explain why I took almost no photos.
[4] Nobody really does much studying during study abroad (just kidding Mom #London04); Phinney even admits this himself.
[5] Like the Prisoner and Saldo.
[6] Phinney has hand-picked vineyards all over the world and makes wine from the local grapes. Remember, the Shatter Grenache from a few months back? That was another of Phinney’s location-based wine projects.
[7] Corsica is a French island in the Mediterranean. We’ll pretend we all knew that already. #geography
[8] And Rosé. Obviously. #RoséAllDayFile Mar 26, 9 35 19 PM
[9] But I digress. #PTD
[10] That’s French for strawberry.
[11] Sorry. #takemeback
[12] So obviously I bought one of these too. The wine was really good though.
[13] Turns out that Microsoft Word does not recognize “oakiness” as a word. I think it’s a word, do you? #AddtoDictionary
[14] One of my gems I crossed off my Wine Bucket List.
[15] Don’t worry, Terry and I continued on to a tapas bar where we continued our evening.
[16] If I didn’t have mush brain, I would have gotten some photos of said labels, but alas, it was mush.

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