Tag Archives: Orin Swift

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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SALDO – The Prisoner Wine Company

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This wine has been a house favorite for quite a few years. I do not remember exactly how I came to discover it but most likely the introduction was made by a certain Zinfandel loving pair we call neighbors and great friends. Gotta love it when friends and wine come together.

Originally from Dave Phinney the winemaker/founder for The Prisoner / Orin Swift wines. SALDO is now produced by The Prisoner Wine Company since the sale of the company in 2009. From TPWC:

When we took ownership of The Prisoner and Saldo in 2009 from Orin Swift, we knew assembling the right team would be essential. With more than a decade of winemaking experience at Ravenswood crafting Zinfandel, Jen Beloz was the ideal person to take the lead. In order to remain true to the wine’s original style and vision, Jen worked alongside Dave Phinney, founder of The Prisoner, for the first two vintages.

Interestingly many wine lovers and fans of these wines think that Orin Swift is a real person. In fact the name was created by Dave Phinney himself. Orin is his father’s middle name and Swift his mother’s maiden name.

saldoBefore SALDO the wine gets you hooked, the bottle label or lack thereof grabs your attention. I love the minimalism of the old-fashioned, retro for most, hand embossed label. Customers enjoy not only looking at it but touching and reliving their memories of making their own labels.

From TPWC: The word “saldo” has various meanings throughout the romance languages of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. In Spanish, it mainly refers to “balance on hand,” and sometimes it can also be interpreted “from here and there.”

Most recently vino and friendship crossed paths again and I got to enjoy the 2011 vintage SALDO at a local Miami Beach restaurant with an out-of-town friend. Once I saw it on the wine menu, and well priced at that, the decision was made. This rich, velvety, medium bodied, fruit forward blend of 83% Zinfandel, 11% Petite Sirah, 6% Syrah paired beautifully with dishes such as; Ropa Vieja [Cuban shredded beef], Oxtail, Beef Tenderloin, grilled brussels sprouts, cheese grits, macaroni and cheese and even tostones [fried plantains]. Heck, it drank deliciously by itself.

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Winemaker Notes:

The 2011 Saldo has an intense ruby color and bold aromas of dark berry fruit, blueberry pie, cardamom and baking spice. The entry is rich and full, and leads into a broad mid palate with concentration and density, backed by lively acidity. The texture is soft and velvety, with polished tannins. The finish is long with persistent notes of chocolate, roasted coffee bean and vanilla spice.

I like the consistency SALDO has shown along the way since first produced in 2007. I recommend it regularly at our store and it has become a customer favorite.  This wine is perfect for not only the Zin lovers and grill-masters out there but also for fans of big bold medium bodied, full flavored red blends. ¡SALUD!

Now and Zin at Whole Foods Market North Miami

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This past weekend in addition to our T.G.I.F. / Thank God It’s Fermented Fridays wine tastings and our casual Saturday afternoon wine tastings it was time for Now and Zin: a Guide to California’s Old-Vine Zinfandels class!

The event was held outdoors under our covered patio [thank you to the weather Gods!] and attended by about a dozen people who pre-registered for the class.

As the photo’s will show the Zinfandel’s paired beautifully with dark chocolate, sausage pizza and various cheeses including: Nancy’s Camembert, an American Artisan cheese from Hudson River Valley NY. A blend of cow and sheep’s milk topped with spicy plum chutney. All of course from Whole Foods Market North Miami.

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We got to enjoy about seven different Zinfandel’s and I must stress the word “enjoy”.  Luckily we didn’t have a bad one among the bunch. Although I must admit favorites were discussed throughout the class and even afterwards as we just had to go back for more and make sure.

I’ll list all the wines below. If we had one clear winner I would have to say it was the SALDO from Orin Swift. A close second would have been the Seghesio with Earthquake and Predator all close too. But as I said all our Zin’s had their fans,  and the fans had their ZIN’s!  ¡SALUD!

WineClass3   Four Vines Truant:  It is blended from vineyards around the state, but it is 77% Zinfandel, 13% Syrah, 5% Petite Sirah, 3% Barbera and 2% Sangiovese. On the nose there are dark berry notes and spicy notes from oak aging. The wine drinks of juicy blackberry, ripe plums and a touch of blueberry. Generous in fruit flavors, plenty of structure and a velvety finish. 


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The Lodi appellation PREDATOR Zinfandel is sourced from 50+ year old vines. Aromas of chocolate espresso bean, smoked bacon [yes it’s true!], and baked berries. Medium to full body.

JOEL GOTT100% ZIN The largest component of our blend for this vintage is old vine Zinfandel from Lodi.  With fruit from Sonoma, Mendocino and the Shenandoah Valley in Amador. 

Decoy Zinfandel – This Sonoma County wine offers raspberry jam aromas, as well as hints of vanilla, clove and white pepper. Like a fresh-baked berry tart, the raspberry notes continue on the palate where they are supported by sweet oak and spice flavors that carry through to the finish. This is a lovely Zinfandel expressing both richness and balance.

SALDO – The 2011 Saldo has an intense ruby color and bold aromas of dark berry fruit, blueberry pie, cardamom and baking spice. The entry is rich and full, and leads into a broad mid palate with concentration and density, backed by lively acidity. The texture is soft and velvety, with polished tannins. The finish is long with persistent notes of chocolate, roasted coffee bean and vanilla spice.

Seghesio Vineyards Winemaker Notes:
Spicy, lush black fruit of Alexander Valley
Briary and raspberry flavors, along with structure, of cooler Dry Creek Valley
Characteristic synergy of components – balanced and elegantly structured
Earthquake –  Over the top and shattering to the veins, all varietals under the Earthquake label are Michael David’s reserve level wines.  These wines possess major concentration and daring flavor with only a limited production offered each year.  The original is the Earthquake Zin that comes from an old Lodi vineyard planted around the time of San Francisco’s great Earthquake in 1906.  While mulling over a label name in the vineyard, Michael Phillips thought it only seemed fitting to relate this intense wine with the historical quake.  With over 15% alcohol and bold tannins, these dark and voluminous will definitely leave your senses quivering.

I’ve been taken prisoner! Orin Swift’s The Prisoner 2008

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Orin Swift 2008 The Prisoner Napa Valley Red Wine

After many years of hearing about this wine and its fabulousness I finally had the chance to partake thanks to having received the 2008 vintage, a 92 pointer per Wine Spectator,  as a birthday gift this past year.   I now know what all the hoopla is about and can see why The Prisoner has and continues to develop a following selling out year after year. To think I was able to cellar mine for 6 months before finally letting myself be imprisoned. Unbeknownst to me the 2008 has been sold out for a while now, along with the 2009. For the most part only the 2010 is now available, running approximately $28-38.00.

This Orin Swift Proprietary Blend contains mostly Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon with smaller amounts of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Charbono and Grenache also, coming across as very well-integrated.

Opaque and ruby garnet in color I detected; leather, black pepper, cedar, raw green pepper and dark ripe fruits in the nose. Peppery on the tongue I detected flavors of; blackberry, vanilla, spice, cherry, the acidity of plum. Fig, raisin & prune as it opened and even more so in the long finish.

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