Duncan and I have always believed in having an extensive and varied list of wines by the glass. It not only allows guests who do not wish to drink a carafe of bottle the option of a single glass but also allows guests to play with different pairings throughout their meal and explore wines that they may not know. We are very excited to be adding Orin Swift’s Papillion to our by the glass and bottle list at The Jones Family Kitchen.
Compared to many other producers with long lineages the rebel with an artistic bent, Dave Phinney, and his company Orin Swift, are new giants in the pantheon of established lauded wine estates. Robert Parker called Dave Phinney “one of the most talented winemakers of our time,” and I concur. He’s been doing some very exciting things and I believe he and his wines fully merit the recognition they’ve been getting.
The history of Orin Swift Cellars dates back to 1995 when Dave Phinney visited Florence on a whim to spend a semester “studying”. It was in Italy that he was introduced to wine and how it was made. He was immediately hooked. He ditched his ideas of becoming a lawyer. Four days after leaving university he moved from Arizona to Napa and he took a job with Robert Mondavi Winery as a temporary harvest worker. Deciding that if he was going to work hard he was going to do so for himself, one year out of university, in 1998, he founded Orin Swift Cellars (named from his father’s middle name, Orin, and his mother’ maiden name, Swift.) Over the next decade he explored and experimented while he made wine both for himself and others. His wines met with considerable success and have meant that he now owns vineyards not only in Napa but also in Chile, France and Spain.
What’s so different and special about Dave Phinney’s wines? He has a restless and inquisitive mind which pushes established wine rules and has turned some of the assumed wine making wisdoms upside down. In his own vineyards, he lets his grapes hang on their vines longer than most vineyard owners to get greater flavour concentration and viscosity. He tops up grapes from his own vineyards, by buying and blending grapes from a huge array of vineyards around the world. If he has one immutable rule to his wine making it’s that he’s committed to only creating wine from the best possible vines he can find, making sure that they are farmed properly, and being fastidious about when the grapes are picked. The demand for Orin Swift wines is huge and it’s not easy to grab a bottle as because of his insistence that he’ll only make the quantity of wine that he has the right quality of fruit for.
The Papillon 2015 we’ve listed is a Bordeaux-styled blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc (15.1% alcohol). It’s a stunning rich, full-bodied, unctuously textured wine with notes of cherry and blackberry. which is delicious now and will last for many years. It has a stunning and instantly recognisable label. Another of Dave Phinney’s many passions is photography. The labels for his wines are always unique and thought-provoking. For Papillion he has chosen the soil and grape stained hands of Vince Tofanelli, an old school vintner in Napa Valley, taken by celebrity photographer (turned wine maker too) Greg Gorman.
Robert Parker’s consistently given Papillion 94 and 95 points in his highly regarded reviews. It’s a fabulous wine alone but also pairs perfectly with our Josper grilled Ginger Pig steak which is why I’m delighted to be including it to our list. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do by the glass, carafe or bottle.