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Pinot Noir,


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Sometimes the labels take years to develop and sometimes they happen quickly. Inspiration comes from a variety of places and things, even duct tape and cardboard

Variety: Pinot Noir
Region: Saint Helena, California
Winemaker: Orin Swift
Size: 750 ml
Alcohol: 15.2%

Winemaker's Notes

Abundantly aromatic, the wine opens with ripe cranberry, marmalade, white pepper, fresh brioche, dried sage, camphor and Mediterranean coastal trail. The entry is silky with a flood of Bing cherry galette, Madagascar vanilla and ripe red fruits.  Seamless, integrated and elegantly opulent, the wine finishes gracefully with trace amounts of soft, oak tannin

John's Notes

Interestingly, I had a lengthy discussion yesterday with my dentist about Pinot Noir, focused on the characteristics (and price) of Burgundian Pinot in relation to Oregon and California. And while we each appreciate a bottle meant to be cellared, there’s a certain appeal to one that’s approachable enough to be enjoyed young, but also has the structure to hold for the right occasion.  Orin Swift’s Slander checks both of those boxes

By the way, I love the label not only for its simplicity, but also for its representation of pragmatic reality applied to art. And there’s no shortage of duct tape in our house!

Nerdy Details

Winemaker: Orin Swift Cellars

  • 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
  • A few more years of university led to graduation and eventually a job at Robert Mondavi Winery in 1997 as a temporary harvest worker. Deciding that if he was going to work this hard, it would eventually have to be for himself, he founded Orin Swift Cellars in 1998; Orin is his father’s middle name and Swift is his mother’s maiden name

Variety: Pinot Noir

Region: Saint Helena, California


  • Climate in California is less about latitude and more about the extent to which various cooling influences affect the vineyards
  • In some locations, California’s valleys act as a funnel for the cold Pacific Ocean air to reach sites far inland. That cold air, often accompanied by fog, can significantly lower nighttime temperatures.  In addition, it can take several hours to burn off the fog which accordingly extends the cooling influence well into the daylight hours
  • In other locations, the coastal mountains shield the vineyards from the cooling effects of the Pacific Ocean. Vineyards with no such cooling exposure (e.g. Central Valley) have a much hotter, drier climate that typically requires irrigation


  • Pinot Noir is notoriously finicky and delicate, requiring it to be handled more gently than other red varietals. In the vineyard, this means monitoring ripening more closely, and in the cellar, prescribing more punchdowns than pumpovers.  What results from these techniques is a wine adorned with unique aromas
  • A blend of Pinot Noir sourced from the state’s prime Pinot growing regions, the wine includes fruit from the Sta. Rita Hills AVA as well as from Annapolis, Olson Ranch, Sleepy Hollow, and MacMurray vineyards
  • Maturation: Aged for 10 months in French oak, 42% new

Alcohol:  15.2%

Pairs Well With: Herb roasted pork chops, grilled vegetables with mushrooms, aged cheeses



Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (91): Aged for 10 months in French oak barrels (42% new), the 2018 Pinot Noir Slander has a pale to medium ruby-purple color. It springs from the glass with notes of raspberry tart, cranberry sauce and rhubarb pie plus hints of Provence herbs and forest floor. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is softly spoken with a nice suggestion of chewiness to the texture and an earthy lift on the finish

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