Orin Swift Wines – Napa Valley

Orin Swift Wines – Napa Valley.

On the 21st of November we attended a winemaker dinner at Michelin Restaurant “Lars” in Amsterdam. Several iconic wines from the Californian Winery Orin Swift were tasted in combination with delicious food.

Furthermore, these special wines were presented by Master of Wine Edouard Baijot, representing E&J Gallo. He proved to be an excellent presenter as he really took us through the story of this extraordinary winery where each wine follows its own storyline. 

About Orin Swift

This innovative brand is established in 1998 by winemaker Dave Phinney, who started it in Napa Valley, California. Through his exciting, imaginative and out of the box approach, with a focus on brand innovation, they took the international market by storm, building an intensely loyal following.

According to Dave “the philosophy at Orin Swift is to be humble and to over deliver”. Therefore, they paired up with E&J Gallo wineries in 2016. This led to an increased access to better vineyards, more control of the farming practices and greater resources than ever before, all of which further increasing the quality of the wines.

Dave wants to improve his wines all the time and highlights that they are always in competition with themselves, and not with other wineries. He takes his work extremely serious. This is also what we experienced; elegant wines accompanied with spiciness and fruitiness.

About the Wines

What is said: Orin Swift makes wine about stories, not stories about wine. Which always has been the essence of each bottle. All wines have their own storyline, which makes them and Orin Swift unique. This winery creates blends from a range of California’s premier sites, predominantly located in Napa Valley. Only fruit of the highest quality will be added to the final blend, resulting in a portfolio of wines that appeal to a variety of senses.

We tasted the following wines from the portfolio:

J. Vineyards Cuvee Brut – DWA Score: 92/100

51% Chardonnay, 41% Pinot Noir, 8% Pinot Meunier – Russian River valley. 

A soft bubble with notes of toasted almond, apple, dried cranberry and ginger snap.

Mannequin – DWA Score: 91/100

Chardonnay – 2019

Made from grapes from vineyards with particularly cool climates to provide lush flavors and bright acidity. Aged for 10 months in French and American oak, which adds the toasty, brioche and almond flavors.

Palermo – DWA Score: 93/100

Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Syrah, Cabernet Franc – 2019

A full-bodied red wine with spicy characteristics in combination with black fruits. New French oak is used, which adds the flavors such as vanilla and chocolate. It is an approachable Cabernet and a true representation of Napa Valley.

Papillon – DWA Score: 95/100

Cabernet Sauvignon based blend with Bordeaux varieties – 2018

Already in bottle for quite some time which results in notes of leather and earth. The Petit Verdot and Malbec give some power to the wine whereas the Cabernet Franc and Merlot add black fruit notes. Fermented in French oak for 15-months. 10-15-year ageing potential.

Abstract – DWA Score: 92/100

Grenache, Syrah, Petite Sirah – 2020

Complexity due to the usage of different geographical locations. A bold wine with notes of black fruits and red fruits accompanied with oaky notes from American plus French oak. The added grapes to the blend can come from 100 different lots of wine in search for the right components in this blend.

Machete – DWA Score: 94/100

Petite Sirah, Syrah, Grenache – 2018

For Orin Swift it always has been the goal to showcase Petit Sirah in a dynamic blend. The right vineyards are selected throughout Northern California to built a matrix that creates layers and depth. It has the attitude to go with 12 individual labels.

8 Years in the desert – DWA Score: 93/100

Zinfandel – 2020

It took Dave a while to get acquainted with Zinfandel again. He said it is a bit like riding a bike, only now the bike is a motorcycle, and the rider has more experience. A perception of sweetness can be detected in the nose, but this moves more to the background on the palate. Some pure brambly raspberry juice and ripe blueberry take over here, with a hint of white pepper.


We had an amazing evening. We got again the confirmation how elegant, full-bodied, and surprising Napa Valleys’ wines can be. Each label told us a story that is not hard to follow as the passion was noticeable. Our special thanks go out to Walraven-Sax, Orin Swift and EJ Gallo, Lars Amsterdam and Pitch PR for organizing this event.

The Orin Swift wines are imported in the Netherlands through Walraven Sax and available at associated retailers and restaurants. This event was covered for us by our own Judi Veldwijk.