Wine with Elvis and the Queen on the label
Founded in 1986, J Vineyards & Winery owns 254 acres of prime vineyards in the Russian River Valley AVA of Sonoma County.
Although they are particularly known for their sparkling wines and make a very full range of others, it is their pinot gris that we decided to introduce to our market, for now.
It has the “Californian” appellation on the label as they source grapes for this wine from Clarksburg, Lodi, North Coast and Monterey.
It truly is one of the most enchanting versions that I have tasted. If you are not familiar with pinot gris I suggest that you remove the “s” and add “gio” as it is just another name for a very popular grape variety.
J 2016 Pinot Gris begins with delightful aromas of roasted pineapple, candied lemon rind and honeysuckle.
It has a lush mouthfeel with sweet honeydew, lime, pear, banana and glycerin. A touch on minerality rounds it out beautifully. This could well become one of my favourite summer wines. $23.70.
The history of Orin Swift Cellars dates back to 1995 when, on a lark, David Swift Phinney took a friend up on an offer and went to Florence, Italy, to spend a semester “studying”.
During that time, he was introduced to wine, how it was made and got hooked. He got a job with a well-known winery (not named as we do not represent them). Deciding that if he was going to work this hard it would eventually have to be for himself, in 1998 he founded Orin Swift Cellars; Orin is his father’s middle name and Swift is his mother’s maiden name. He spent the next decade making wine for others as well as himself and grew the brand to what it is today.
Although David will stay on at the helm, he sold his company last summer and it is through this association that we now have access to his portfolio.
To say that his wines have eclectic names and labels is putting it mildly. I will lead off with Machete 2015 Petite Sirah that the winery describes in this way: “A brooding hue and viscous consistency, powerful aromas of crème de cassis, boysenberry and ripe cherries are complemented by a soft minerality and hints of dark chocolate. The entry is smooth with dark plums and a charred meatiness that floods to create a velvety texture that lingers.”
I would not want to lead you astray and suggest that this is the best wine in the world as it only placed sixth last December in Wine Spectator’s Top 100. So, out of the more than 15,000 that they blind tasted, it only bested 14,994! Have you ever had a wine that rated so high? Parker gave it 96/100 and Wine Spectator 94/100. Like all his wines they are highly allocated and not easy to get. $65.30.
If you go for a bottle of Orin Swift 2015 Abstract (pictured) not only will you have a fantastic blend of grenache, syrah and petit sirah, but probably the only wine that has our Queen and Elvis on the label, among dozens of celebrities actually. Royalty indeed. As soon as the glass is poured aromatics of Luxardo cherries, ripe black plums and raspberries billow. Intricate hints of coffee, mocha and caramel are there. Cola, cocoa and soft and dusty tannins finish with wild cherry and a lingering sweet oak presence. $45.
Here is how Robert Parker describes Orin Swift 2014 Papillon, their “Bordeaux blend” of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot, malbec and cabernet franc: “94/100. Notes of forest floor, graphite, blackcurrant, blackberry fruit and spring flowers followed by a full-bodied, unctuously textured, deep, rich, pure wine to drink over the next 10 to 15 years.” The winemaker finds ripe black cherry, anise, liquorice, shaved dark chocolate, rosemary and charred meat, even toasted coconut. $81.65.
These are exciting times for us as we welcome two such iconic wineries that have fallen into our lap due to corporate acquisitions.
• This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail email@example.com or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). Visit www.wineonline.bm.