Dave Phinney is as passionate for the wines, the land and the grapes as he quirky and iconoclastic about his company’s name (Orin Swift), The crazy labels and even crazier names for his wine. His wine are his children but he must have used the same baby name book as Frank Zappa did when he named them. Why “Mannequin”, “Machete”, “Papillon”, “Palermo”, et, al?
Let’s start with the easy ones:
Orin Swift comes from his dad’s middle name “Orin” and mom’s maiden name “Swift” so it’s a family name, sort of.
Saturday November 9 come taste amazing wines with crazy labels and crazy names:
“8 Years in the Desert” Is pretty easy to explain.
Dave had his wine epiphany on a year abroad in college in Italy working at a vineyard. When he came back he did a stint at Mondavi then
went on to make his own wine. That first batch was about 90 cases of Zinfandel, his first love. Long after that he expanded his wine company and sold off
popular “Prisoner” wine brand he had a non-compete clause forbidding him from making Zin for 8 years! Well the 8 years are over and like a kid who is told not to
the first thing he did was make a killer zin named “8 Years in the Desert”! Come by and taste this labor of love this Saturday at the shop
“Abstract” is pretty easy to understand. The wine is a “grape collage” so it is fitting that a collage represents it. As the winery says an Abstract is a big picture showing the general ideas and “what it’s all about”.Well the wine is a good representation of the Orin Swift vibe. Eminent drinkabilty, plush and varied. The blend is Grenache, Petite Sirah and Syrah aged in mostly new oak abut 8 months. The collage was a major project by Phinney. According to “Drinksbusiness.com” Phinney built this monster on a table from a huge collection of clippings and pics he had accumulated but chose to eschew the glue! So he had to keep the door locked and observed his progress from a tall ladder. It’s got over 230 pics carefully assembled into an archetypal whole like the wine which I understand is blended from upto 100 different lots sourced from all over California. I see the label and I think of the song “Cult of Personality”.
“Mannequin” is further out there. It’s coming back in. I’ll start with the wine then explain the name and label. It was always labeled “Chardonnay” but was in name only (CH.I.N.O.). The earlier iterations were not all Chard: 2015, Chardonnay with Sauv Blanc and Muscat, 2014 Chardonnay, Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Muscat, Roussanne etc. But now it is 100% Chardonnay as always aged in new French oak. As usual sourced from ALL over California and as usual a baroque, extravagant style. But why the name and the label? The name came from musing about what a mannequin is. drinksbiz.com must have gotten a very long interview with Dave to find all this out but here goes. A line in a song referred to “mannequin” and Dave thought about how the mannequin represents the human form but that the clothes hung on it changes over time to reflect trends of fashion much as Chardonnay has done over the years. Chardonnay has a definite essential character but the dressing if you will can greatly change it though underneath it there is alway Chardonnay. The picture was torture, I’ll just say it took 540 shots to get it right!
“Machete” I call the Foxy Brown label and the story behind it is as convuluted as a Quentin Tarantino vignette. I also don’t know if I believe it so I’ll leave it at this. He spotted the white caddy you see on the label and thought it was a cop (why?). It wasn’t of course but he loved the car and used it in the photo shoots with the amazing model you see in the various versions of the Machete labels. The important thing is that this is A typical Phinney blend but it leads with Petit Sirah which is which produces a very intense dark brooding wine. The other varieties are Syrah and Grenache with 12 months age in French oak.
“Palermo” is creepy but actually very touching.
“Papillon” is cute but I still don’t get it. All I think of is Dustin Hoffmann and Steve McQueen in really ratty clothes.