Orin Swift Machete California Red Wine 2012

Dark, inky purple color; blueberry, blackberry, plum nose; very concentrated big fruit, blueberry, raspberry, chocolate, vanilla, oak on the palate.

Full-bodied blend of petite sirah (75%), syrah, and grenache; pure expression of fruits, especially wine maker David Phinney’s beloved petite sirah.

The wine spent 10 months in French oak (40% new barrels), and that comes across, but not oppressively so. As expected, given the grapes, the tannins are ripe and sweet. Classic California fruit bomb. The 15.7% alcohol is surprisingly integrated into a silky mouthfeel. There is no great complexity, it simply attacks with super-ripe fruits, entertains you in the mid-palate, then retires fairly quickly on the finish.

Winemaker David Swift Phinney started at Robert Mondavi as a temporary harvest worker in 1997, then realized if he was going to work this hard, he wanted to work for himself. The next year, he founded the winery, naming it after his father’s middle name (Orin) and his mother’s maiden name. Today, it is a world-wide enterprise with 300 acres of vineyards in France and projects in Spain, Italy, Corsica, and Argentina. The Prisoner (a monster zinfandel) was his breakthrough bottling, although that brand has been sold.

Like many big boy reds, Machete benefits from some air time, but it remains relentlessly fruity. The high alcohol sneaks up on you, too, because the silky texture and massive fruit masks the heat. $50-65

Orin Swift website

Second photo: Dave Phinney in his vineyard

Orin Swift Machete California Red Wine 2012
Dave Phinney in his vineyard