Friday, July 18, 2014

Orin Swift Abstract Napa Valley Red Blend - Hesketh Cruel Intentions Shiraz

Hesketh Cruel Intentions Shiraz 2010 - Orin Swift Abstract Napa Valley 2012 WBTG with food pairings at DOC Yorktown Wine Bar

For a casual late night snack, Linda and I tasted two red wines from the WBTG (wine-by-the-glass) offering with a platter of artisan cheeses, pate and bruschetta on the patio at DOC Yorktown in Lombard.

The food pairings from the Butcher's Plate menu included Old Amsterdam Dutch, Four Year Old Aged Cheddar cheeses, the New York Pate Forestier and the bruschetta with asparagus, prosciutto and reggiano. 

The wines selected were Hesketh 'Cruel Intentions' South Australia Shiraz and Orin Swift Abstract Napa Valley Red Wine Blend.

Hesketh 'Cruel Intentions' South Australia Shiraz 2010

Hesketh Wine Company is a small, family owned, South Australian based producer run by owner and winemaker Jonathon Hesketh who refined his craft with Wirra Wirra, Moet Chandon and Cloudy Bay. He sources fruit from several growing regions across South Australia for a modestly priced White Label line. He also produces Black Label wines from select vineyards recognized for excellence from the Currency Creek and McLaren Vale regions on the Fleurieu Peninsula. Each wine is either single vineyard or sourced from a small selection of specific vineyards and produced at facilities close by the vineyards for quality and practicality.

Fruit for this wine comes from the Currency Creek and McLaren Vale growing regions on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia.

Cruel Intentions is another whimsical artist label that reflects fun and a sense of humour on behalf of the producer/winemaker.

Dark crimson red color, medium bodied, a slight metallic and mineral layer competes with the ripe plum fruit, tones of anise, vanilla and toast on a moderate tannin finish. A bit disjointed and flabby.

RM 87 points.

Orin Swift 'Abstract' Napa Valley 2012

The wines of Dave Phinney and Orin-Swift Cellars are distinctive in their branding and packaging with some of the more intriguing and unique labels and wine names. Perhaps best known for the somewhat macabre “Prisoner”  (no longer owned by Dave, although he remains a consultant) and “Papillon” with its stark black and white photograph of rough-hewn fingers (left), Phinney composes his rather mysterious label designs from a collection to a collage of a variety of photographs.

His wines are as distinctive as his labels. They tend to be full-flavored, forward, intense, firm structured wines. He mixes a melange of varietals from a variety of  appellations and vineyards to form the distinct profile and personality of each label. They are not for the feint of heart.

After graduating college he spent a short time at Robert Mondavi Winery before founding Orin Swift Cellars. From his original release based on purchased Zinfandel grapes, he has added Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and eventually extended the range to Grenache, Petite Sirah, and Syrah.

Orin Swift recently purchased forty-eight acres in the hills above Oakville to plant and develop. They also recently purchased some vineyards and a winery in the steep hillsides of the Roussillon, near Maury in the French Pyrénées planted in 60-100 year old Grenache, with a small percentage of Syrah and Carignane. Commuting between California and France, Dave lives with his wife and children in St. Helena, CA.

I vividly remember taking Orin Swift Napa Valley 2005 Red Wine Blends Papillon and The Prisoner to a gala team dinner over the holidays back in 2009. The Prisoner was thick with ripe spicy black berry fruits predominating. Papillon showed the most complexity, structure and breadth and depth of flavors - dark, brooding, black berry, currant, spice, oak, and finely integrated tannins. With this as a backdrop I was interested to try 'Abstract', a blend of Grenache, Petite Sirah, and Syrah from primarily hillside vineyards in Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino Counties.

Dark garnet purple colored, full bodied, thick and complex, Abstract bursts with aromas and obtuse forward fruit flavors of ripe blackberry, mulberry and hints of blueberry fruits with tones of floral, kirsch, black tea, and bitter chocolate on a chewy tannin finish.

RM 90 points.

 is comprised of Grenache, Syrah and Petite Sirah and drinks like an inky, concentratedPetite Sirah blend. Blackberry, dark dark chocolate with a silky texture - See more at:
my favorite Red blend that Dave Phinney is making right now. The Prisoner is a fun-drinking Red but this is a completely different wine. It is comprised of Grenache, Syrah and Petite Sirah and drinks like an inky, concentratedPetite Sirah blend. Blackberry, dark dark chocolate with a silky texture is what this wine offers in the glass. - Kerrin Laz, Wine Director - See more at:

Plate from earlier visit

Henry's Drive Padthaway Cabernet Sauvignon 2002

Henry's Drive Padthaway South Australia Cabernet Sauvignon 2002

Like so many Australian producers, the Longbottom Family show they have a sense of humor, a bit of whimsey and honor their heritage as Henry's Drive is named after the nineteenth century mail coach driver, Henry John Hill, who drove the horse drawn stage coach that delivered passengers and mail to the property during that earlier era. Established in 1998 by Mark and Kim Longbottom, the property is in the Padthaway region in the southeast of of South Australia along what is known as the Limestone Coast. The first vines were planted at Henry's Drive in 1992. Mark passed in 2008, but Kim continues to operate the vineyards and winery in tribute to him. The postal theme is continued in the wine range with labels such as the Postmistress, Dead Letter Office and Pillar Box Red.

This wine was crafted by none other than Sara and Sparky Marquis of Marquis Philips fame from the days of this vintage, and today, producers of the Mollydooker brand of wines, famously known for their cartoonish labels and wine names. This wine seems to be following the same aging trajectory as a 2003 vintage Marquis Philips label tasted a couple of weeks ago.

Today, Henry’s Drive winemaking team is headed by Renae Hirsch who has also held winemaking positions in France, Germany, the US, in addition to Australia, in large and small scale operations

The fruit is sourced from 250 acres of Longbottom family owned estate vineyards in Padthaway, and another 30 acres planted in McLaren Vale. The vineyards are planted in Verdelho, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon varietals. We've held their Shiraz, Shiraz Reserve, a Shiraz Cabernet blend, and this Cabernet Sauvignon which is no longer produced under this label. I favor their Shiraz and look forward to some day trying their flagship 'Magnus' Shiraz, a single vineyard designated wine produced as a tribute to Mark.

Drank at home with grilled steaks, its time to drink up this twelve year old as my rating has fallen off two points from my earlier reviews in '07 and '04 as the fruit is starting to diminish. Dark garnet colored with medium body, the rich ripe forward dark cherry and currant fruits are starting to give way to a layer of leather and sage, still accented by kirsch, anise, and hints of black pepper.

RM 87 points.