Robert Parker 98
"The 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 18 months in 50% new French oak, is the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Mercury Head. Certainly one of the more intriguing labels, with a real Mercury-head dime embedded in the glass bottle, this 4,500-case cuvée comes from blocks in Taplin, Morisoli and Atlas Peak vineyards. The final blend is a selection of their best barrels, bottled and aged another six months prior to release. This is a killer Cabernet Sauvignon, full-bodied and multilayered, with stunning blueberry and blackberry fruit, floral acacia notes, a hint of brioche and subtle toasty oak followed by a massive, full-bodied wine with sweet tannin and beautifully integrated acidity, alcohol and wood. This profound Cabernet Sauvignon should drink well now and for 25+ years. Dave Phinney may well be 2015's winemaker of the year for this wine taster."
"A deep hue of dark garnet is almost opaque. The weight of the wine is evidenced in the long and rich legs that coat the sides of the glass. Aromatics of ripe cherry and gooseberry mingle with the scent of newly toasted oak and freshly baked croissants. The entry of the wine is both soft and massive all at once. It coats the mouth and leads into a mid palate laced with fine layers of deeply ripe stone fruits. The wine finishes with long chains of subtle tannins and sophisticated structure."~Winery Notes
"The wines of Dave Phinney and Orin-Swift Cellars capture the imagination in a way unlike almost any we know of. It all starts some of the most intriguing and compelling labels and packaging in the business. These never fail to entice you in as to what lurks beneath the cork! From the now infamous and slightly macabre “Prisoner” (a brand no longer owned by Dave, though he remains as consultant) to the stark black and white photograph of rough-hewn fingers in his “Papillon”, Phinney, who designs and art directs all of his labels with the help of some historic artists and brilliant modern-day photographers (namely Greg Gorman), seeks to create a relationship between consumer and product that is indelible yet still full of mystery with each successive release.
The wines themselves of course deliver on their promise as well. They are unapologetically full-flavored and intense, yet with a backbone of structure that holds it all in place. Dave is not afraid to mix vineyards, varietals and even appellations to create the desired alchemy for each and every wine. He is ultra strict with his selection, however, and will always de-classify a wine or even skip a release entirely if it is not up to his standards.
The origins of Orin Swift began while Phinney was studying abroad at the University of Florence in Italy. Like so many other college students he was wondering what to do after graduation. Fortunately for Dave, his roommate at the time was from an old wine family in the Sonoma valley and put the germ of a dream in his head: "Why not get into the wine business?”
Dave had come to appreciate wine already and enjoyed the idea of being a part of what he perceived to be an honorable and honest profession. He returned to the States and tried to immerse himself in all aspects of the wine business, which was no easy task being in the middle of the desert at the University of Arizona. He ultimately found a professor in the agriculture department who was also interested in growing grapes. In the spring of 1997 the University planted a one-acre experimental block in the heart of Tucson, Arizona, a project in which Dave played an integral part. Equally important was the experience he gained while working at one of Tucson's finest retail wine shops learning the hardest part of the wine business…selling the stuff.
A few months later, he found himself with a degree in political science and working his first harvest for the Robert Mondavi Winery. Dave worked his way up from the low man on the totem pole and was hooked. The next year Dave started Orin Swift Cellars on a shoestring budget, “with two tons of purchased Zinfandel grapes and one pair of shoes” as his wife likes to say. Orin Swift has grown exponentially over the last few years adding Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and a blended white and red to the program. In addition, Orin Swift recently purchased forty-eight acres of raw land in the hills above Oakville and they hope to someday build a winery there.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Dave also recently purchased some vineyards and a winery in the steep hillsides of the Roussillon, near Maury in the French Pyrénées. There he produces a red wine called D-66 made predominantly from 60-100 year old Grenache, with a small percentage of Syrah and Carignane from soils of schist, granite and limestone. Up to and during the harvest, Dave plays “flying winemaker”, often making several trips to France to oversee the project, all the while keeping tabs on his team in California!
Dave swears up-and-down that he is done with his expansion plans for Orin–Swift, though it will be interesting to see if he can keep his creative juices under tow? Meanwhile, Phinney, despite his success and the broad visibility of his products, continues to maintain a discreet profile. He lives with his wife and children in St. Helena, CA, and is a generous supporter of several local charities.
We hope you enjoy these unique wines from one of California’s most imaginative, successful, yet extremely humble winemakers."~Distributor Notes
Orin Swift D66View all from Orin Swift D66
"The wines of Dave Phinney capture the imagination in a way unlike almost any we know of in today's competitive wine market. They are unapologetically full-flavored and intense, yet with a backbone of structure that beautifully holds it all in place. Department 66 is a passion project of Dave's born out of an inspiring visit to the village of Maury in the Rousillon, which falls within France's 66th department. Dave discovered, in his words, "perhaps the most amazing confluence of vineyards I've ever been exposed to." He spent days driving around with his jaw agape, stunned by the raw beauty of this truly unique place. The terrain is dominated by black schist with small deposits of Granite and Limestone in red rocky soils known as Angile. From it, Dave Phinney and his crew craft three wines: the dark and concentrated D66 made of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan; the aromatic, opulent and layered Fragile Rosé; and a new release known as Others, which is a rich, intense wine that introduces old vine Mourvedre to the blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan. In recent years, Dave has built a winery in Maury and ammassed over 300 acres of vineyards, many of which are 60-100 years in vine age. Maury is not a second home to the Phinney family, but rather their "other home" as its place in their hearts and minds is second to none."