Category Archives: Syrah

Lunch with Orin Swift a.k.a. David Phinney

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INVITE

My lunch with Orin Swift a.k.a. David Phinney, yes THAT!! Orin Swift. The master wine-maker originally behind such incredible new-world wines such as: The Prisoner, SALDO, Locations, Blindfold, Machete, Thorn, Abstract and many more.

The setting, Cafe Boulud at the Bazilian Court in Palm Beach, just steps from Worth Avenue. Not a bad way to spend my afternoon off if I do say so myself.

 

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The meet and greet afforded us a couple of hours of quality time with David, we’re on first name basis now, where he spoke about growing up and his introduction to the world of wine, his many wine projects and even his family and favorite truck. Happy to report Mr. Phinney is very down to earth and has a fun sense of humor.

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David Phinney entertains Whole Foods & Whine and Cheers For Wine

 

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Palermo

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Abstract

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The group of about twenty five wine loving fans not only got the chance for one on one conversations  with the Master himself  but also enjoyed Cafe Boulud food pairings with a multitude of Orin Swift wines.   Included was 8 Years in the Dessert.  A mostly Zinfandel eight-pack gift set being sampled in public only for the third time ever. Usually available to wine club members which by the way has a six month waiting list. Patience is a virtue some say. David Phinney would know. The name of this set is based on his non-compete clause after selling off The Prisoner Wine Co.

Wines sampled, all pictured here; Blank Stare, Mannequin, Abstract, Machete, 8 Years in the Dessert, Mercury Head, Papillon and Palermo.

 

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Eight Days in the Dessert Gift Box

Again, what a way to spend an afternoon. How lucky am I? Having enjoyed and written about some of these very wines I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to meet the man, the legend, the master behind these incredible game changers in the wine industry.  Can’t wait to share his stories and mine with all our customers.

¡SALUD!

 

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Papillon

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Mercury Head

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Blank Stare

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Mannequin

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Wine Spectator Top 100 – #6 Machete from Orin Swift

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img_1953The Wine Spectator Top 100 list is a BIG deal every year. Making the Top 10 and being named #6 on that list, well it doesn’t get much better for everyone from the wine makers to the consumer.

As the names and scores are released daily I immediately get questions from customers about their availability. Of course I usually beat them to the punch as I await every daily press release in the hopes that I not only know the wine but have it on my shelf at our Whole Foods Market North Miami. Wine geek much? I guess so..

fullsizerender-2As a big fan of Dave Phinney and his Orin Swift winemaking skills I knew of Machete; a Petite Sirah, Syrah, Grenache blend, but had not had the honor of trying it due to availability or distribution issues. Well that all changed when earlier this year Dave Phinney announced the sale of Orin Swift Cellars to E. & J. Gallo Wines. Since then I am happy to announce that most if not all of the Orin Swift wines have become available to me [thanks to great distributor relationships] and are flying off the shelf just by word of mouth and reputation. Well, until now of course.

With only 15,500 cases produced, a 94 point score, a TOP 100 and TOP 10 list placement by Wine Spectator the 2014 vintage may not be around for long . Fingers crossed that it is, but I am also excited by the fact that Dave Phinney will be staying on as head of Orin Swift Cellars while benefiting from the power and potential behind a partnership with E. & J. Gallo Wines¦SALUD!

My tasting notes: In all honesty this was a group tasting. Fate had me buying a bottle of Machete, to probably drink/taste alone, on the same night wine loving neighbors in need of brawny men to move a wine cellar fridge called. The stars and planets aligned. Wine cave installed, this wine was a glorious hit with all who imbibed and even garnered me a sale of multiple bottles! Our thoughts; opaque purple-black in color, big & robust on the nose with dark berries, currants, licorice, cloves and white pepper, full-bodied, drinkable now not in need of decanting, great Autumn wine, although big and bold on the nose much softer on the palate, smooth tannins, noticeable acidity.

Wine maker notes:
A nearly opaque color sets in the glass with a hard, red complexion that is almost black. Aromas of ripe blueberries and candied plum mingle with toasted oak and charred vanilla. The entry is soft and inviting which paves the way for a lush mid-palate replete with layers of ripe boysenberry and cassis. The finish showcases ripe tannins and pronounced fruit which frames the two for nearly a minute. **Bottled with 12 Different Labels, you may not receive the one pictured**
Wine Spectator notes:

Generous and expressive, big and brawny, this offers a mouthful of tannins but also brims with flavors and aromas, including Earl Grey tea, dark chocolate, dried violet and toasted gingerbread. Rich notes of plum and black cherry are balanced by forest floor and earth accents, which linger on the long finish. Petite Sirah, Syrah and Grenache. Drink now through 2030.

Machete 2014

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Viva España! Marques De Griñon – 2009 CALIZA Red Blend

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CalizaThis Spanish beauty comes to us from Dominio de Valdepusa.  Located in central Spain in the Provence of Toledo. It was the first estate to receive the DO de Pago the highest Spanish classification for wine of which there are now fifteen.   Along with stringent quality requirements these classified wines must be produced, processed and aged on the estate. Dominio de Valdepusa has been in the family of Carlos Falcó Fernandez de Córdova, the Marquis of Griñón, since 1292.

From their web-site:

Caliza” means limestone in Spanish, used in naming this wine so as to pay homage to the unique soil profile at this Dominio de Valdepusa estate. The moderate layer of clay topsoil over rocky limestone leads to elegantly structured wines. Caliza is a blend of Syrah and Petit Verdot which are fermented in stainless steel followed by one year in new and second passage French oak.

Along with Syrah and Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon is also planted among their 125 acres. A variety of grapes that seems to be working quite well for winemaker Julio Mourelle and estate owner Carlos Falcó who have repeatedly received 90-91 point scores for past vintages from Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast.

My notes:

On the nose; spice [vanilla], wood [oak], dark fruit [blueberry, blackberry] with some red fruit [raspberry] as it opened. On the palate; at first the fruit was a bit closed off and the wine quite tannic as I noted cocoa and the effects of this blend coating my mouth with a purple hue. As the wine was decanted and opened for over an hour it was interesting to notice it transform into a luscious fruit bomb with notes of; tobacco, earthiness [wet soil/mushrooms], smokiness, chocolate, raisin and what I noted to be a fig/guava finish.

Since discovering this vino I recommend it regularly to customers who are looking to try something new, enjoy red blends or are looking for a fruit forward yet well-balanced medium bodied wine. Usually priced in the $18-$25.00 range the popularity of this 14.5% ALC Spanish wine continues to grow. I am personally impressed by the history and pedigree of the property [1292!]. More so, I was very surprised by the change brought about by decanting. A fact I will be suggesting to our customers moving forward. “Age and or decant!”  The results will make it very worth your while.  ¡SALUD!

 

Winemaker’s Notes

Deep purple in color with ruby reflections, this wine shows alluring notes of blackberries and cassis with undertones of cinnamon and minerality. On the palate,it is beautifully full-bodied and silky with refreshing acidity and flavors that unfold into the long-lasting finish.

Chateau Le Cacheflo 2010 – Tobin James

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Tobin James 2010 Chateau Le Cacheflo

 

A recent wine discovery, this red blend out of Paso Robles has been a big hit with all of whom I have shared it with. At the store it is a hand sell due to it not being well-known. At home it’s an easy pour,  I am surrounded by wine lovers.  Our mantra should be POUR. Which is actually not a bad idea for t-shirts….

Sunday Supper a few weeks back found the Chateau Le Cacheflo winning the popularity contest among four or five other wines brought by the afore-mentioned vino lovers. Other good red blends were in attendance but the Cacheflo was the best balanced with intricate flavor layers worth pondering.

I was originally introduced to the wines of Tobin James by the Sommelier at Morton’s Steak House – North Miami Beach via their Cabernet Sauvignon.  It left a mark.  Months later when I realized Tobin James was approved for sale at Whole Foods Market I could not have been happier.Tobin James 2009 Cabernet

The blend is reported to be; Syrah, Barbera and Sangiovese. What is referred to by the winemaker as Mediterranean varietals.  Prior to researching I listed Syrah/Shiraz, Sangiovese and possibly Malbec on the nose. Now I see that the Barbera is what most likely gives this wine its body and richness.

I believe I have now had the Cacheflo at least three times in as many weeks. Glad to report; it was worthy every time. The name itself is a play on CASH FLOW. Originally started as a way of making wine under his own label from available left-over grapes and a way to get the cash to flow.  Their Zinfandel started this way too. With excess grapes a grower needed to move.  Tobin James worked his magic into an award-winning wine and launched Tobin James Cellars.

My notes:

Resilient legs [14.8% ALC]. On the nose; fruit forward [casis, blackberry], jammy, spices [nutmeg, vanilla], tobacco box, cedar and even tar [in a good way].

On the palate; a WOW at first sip, red and dark fruit [black cherry] well-balanced, robust, mouth-watering medium acidity.  A cherry finish with fruit softening and delicate wood appearing.

To learn more about Tobin James check out PasoWine.com where you can find out about his humble wine beginnings, becoming the founding wine maker at Peachy Canyon and recently being awarded the 2010 PASO ROBLES WINE INDUSTRY PERSON OF THE YEAR.

At a retail price of $15.99 or less this easy drinker is a great example of what an everyday to some, weekend wine to others, should be.  This is a welcome addition to Whole Foods Market North Miami and my home cellar. Yes, still the guest room after all these years.

¡SALUD!

 

Notes from the Winemaker: 

Paso Robles is one of the most unique growing areas in the world. So many varietals excel here that the focus has been on the production of great red wines.

In keeping with this great tradition, the wine community has discovered that the Mediterranean varietals flourish and develop distinct and unequivocal character in Paso Robles. This wonderful blend of Mediterranean varietals includes; Syrah, Sangiovese and Barbera.

Year after year Tobin James has produced this Highly acclaimed “Cache-flo” for you to enjoy with just about anything!

 

 

 

Wine Discovery of the Week – DiamAndes 2012 Perlita Malbec-Syrah

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Diamandes Perlita @WCW2014One of the perks of my job as a Wine Buyer is that I am regularly offered new products to taste and carry at our store. Of course these visits by our distributors can go either way. But every once in a while a wine leaves its mark. That is exactly what happened as I discovered this pearl.

Among four or five wines tasted including high-end Pinot Noirs and a unoaked Chardonnay, the Perlita  [little pearl in spanish] 2012 Malbec-Syrah blend from Argentina was for me the instant hit.

 

From Wines of Argentina:

It’s in 1999 that Michel Rolland along with 6 other Bordeaux winemakers founded the Clos de los Siete : an innovative and unique concept : More than 850 hectares divided in 7 plots, each one with its own winery. The vineyard is located in Mendoza, in the heart of the Uco valley, one of the best quality vineyard areas in Argentina. In 2005, the Bonnie family, owners of the renowned Grand Cru Classé Château Malartic-Lagravière, and its neighboring Pessac-Léognan Château Gazin Rocquencourt became part of this Argentinean adventure. Through the purchase, along with their partners, of a single estate of 130 hectares within the Clos de Los Siete, Bodega DiamAndes was born.

The 2012 Perlita is 80% Malbec 20% Syrah harvested April 3rd-15th and aged [100%] 10 months in french oak. Having never experienced such a blend I was very impressed with how each varietal improved upon each other. The Malbec spice balanced out the Syrah richness of fruit.

My notes;

Deep dark rich burgundy purple in color. At 14.5% ALC I was surprised to not see much legs on the glass at first but somehow they seemed to develop and linger in mere minutes. Dark fruit and tobacco on the nose. On the palate; good and noticeable acidity, fruit forward [blackberry] yet balanced with spice [vanilla]. Medium plus body with medium tannins.

As you can probably imagine this wine is now sitting proudly on our shelves at Whole Foods Market North Miami.  I am pretty sure I would have brought this wine in anyway but the deciding factor was its price. Usually available under $20 it is presently on-sale for $13.99. I will excitedly be introducing this wine to our customers who tend to lean towards fruit forward but well-balanced wines. Having bought  a couple of bottles for our cellar just last week: it may already be time to replenish.  ¡SALUD!  To discovering the pearls in life!

 

 

Technical info from Bodega Diamandes:

130 hectares
Terroir: Clay and sand with a a large quantity of pebbles. In the Uco Valley, in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, at an altitude of 1100 m.
Planting density: 5 500 plants per ha
Vine care: Vertical trellising, green harvest, handed leaf thinning
Harvest: Handed picking with small crates, cooling in cold room, handed double sorting. No crushing
Vinification: Entirely gravity-operated process. Gentle extractions with fractional pumping over; slow, fermentation kinetics at low temperatures.
64 small temperature-controlled stainless steel vats (isolated with a double jacket). Unique in South America !
Consultant Oenologist: Michel Rolland