Orin Swift’s Upgrade for Lovers of “The Prisoner”
Of the handful of producers who have developed a feverish fan base among Wine Access clients, we would be hard-pressed to name one whose wines are more hotly anticipated than Dave Phinney. After all, the founder and winemaker of Orin Swift and the original creator of “The Prisoner,” Phinney is one of the great winemaking talents of our time. Robert Parker himself says, “Orin Swift is the brainchild of a brilliant young man by the name of Dave Phinney. His Midas touch with grapes from seemingly anywhere in the world, is unusual, but the brilliance of the wines, his creativeness and unparalleled blending talents have built an incredible portfolio right out of the gate.” The 2013 and 2014 vintages of this “Abstract” red blend both earned an impressive 94 points from Mr. Parker. The 2016 harvest was praised for its exceptional quality, so we can't wait to see how the critics score this deep and dark "Abstract," featuring black plum, fig, and chocolate notes wrapped in a velvety, silky and supple package. Poised and powerful, this is the perfect wine to have close at hand as grilling season approaches. At just $29.99 per bottle, this is a must-case-buy for lovers of rich, bold, sumptuous reds.
For those of you unfamiliar with all the critical acclaim heaped on Phinney, here’s the highlights: With multiple Wine Spectator Top 100 placements, he’s been most lauded by Robert Parker who has gushed, “Readers looking for personality filled wines of considerable character and complexity need to check out the Orin Swift offerings.” Phinney remains entirely hands on at Orin Swift, making these wines from beginning to end and on a daily basis. In the words of the venerable Parker: “If you are like me and believe that a wine is to be judged on just how delicious it is, you will be as impressed as I have been with the Orin Swift products.”
So, it was easy to recruit volunteers from Wine Access headquarters to head to the Orin Swift tasting room in St. Helena to pick up a sample of the 2016 Abstract. Not surprisingly, the sleek tasting room was packed when we got there, so it was a perfect chance to field-test the bottle. We walked the three blocks to Gott’s Roadside, the St. Helena institution that, since it opened as Taylor’s Refresher in 1949, has been known for the best burgers in Napa Valley.
We consider it culinary heresy to order anything other than a burger at Gott’s, so we cracked our bottle with our Blue Cheese Burgers (and one Wisconsin Sourdough.) Like all of Dave Phinney’s wines, the Abstract is built around a core of powerful, dark fruit: in this case, ripe Grenache, Petite Sirah, and Syrah that go perfectly with grilled Niman Ranch beef, blue cheese, bacon, and even bbq sauce. This is a pure California gem: A wine from a rock-star winemaker that will warm you through what remains of the winter, and be perfect to have on hand when it is time to fire up the grill.
Editor-in-Chief, Wine Access