Well, there is always ‘good news’, and then there is also always ‘bad news’, which one chooses to follow is quite simply up to you…
Last week the wine world celebrated International Sauvignon Blanc Day, good news? actually I had never heard of this before but as a chum was coming for lunch that day I decided to surprise him, having said we would not drink a dam Sauvignon Blanc. In a last minute act of vinous-solidarity I decided to open up something that I had never tasted or drunk before, the 2017 Blank Stare from Orin Swift’s Russian River Valley vineyard, California.
The story goes that in 2016, Blank Stare was the first venture of David Phinney (O.Swift) into the cooler zone of Russian River Valley. The idea was to make a different expression of Sauvignon Blanc from it’s Napa Valley sister, Veladora. For this 2017 edition, they wanted to continue crafting a wine with a livelier acidity and a distinctive minerality, akin to an old world Sauvignon Blanc, whilst still retaining the Swift signature style. The Sauvignon Blanc grapes were sourced mainly from hand picked blocks in the Laguna Ranch and Mac Murray Ranch vineyards. How about that for local geography. If you want to see the map, please ask me.
The wine shows a pale yellow with a chartreuse tint, the wine opens with bright aromatics of lime zest, lemon, green apple and a touch of honey. Delcious! The entry! is refreshing with ripe pineapple and grapefruit, framed by a nervy backbone of satiating acidity. A mid-palate of white peach and a hint of pith melds seamlessly into a long, very long energetic finish of wet stone and key lime. Quite extraordinary and then it became even more so… the alcohol kicks in at a whopping 15.5% and you can feel every drop of it. A little like going into the ring with Momo Ali, or G.Foreman punching you in the ribs as if you where just the ‘heavy bag’. It almost hurt as much.
David or ‘Dave’ Phinney is the owner and winemaker of Orin Swift and he thinks of wines in general as either masculine or feminine, and his labels often reflect that. The label for his Blank Stare Sauvignon Blanc flags up the femininity of the wine inside the bottle. (wow! howzabout then, his Mum really must have kicked quite a punch then)
Being an arty sort of fellow he likes using the collage approach for his labels as he used for Abstract (another wine from his stable), the layering effect of a pair of gouged out eyes over a black-and-white photo of a female model is sinister, which is exactly the look Phinney was going for. “It has the desired effect. A lot of people have told me it creeps them out,” says Phinney.
Well, I got to tell you Mr Phinney that the only think that creeped me out was the alcoholic content of your otherwise super Sauvignon Blanc. My guest was on the floor before we even managed the main course. I made it to the pudding and then keeled over. Two or three hours later we managed to pull ourselves together and went for a very long walk.
WTF! Happy Sauvignon Blanc Day 2019, I think next year I’ll stick to what I know suits us well for am enjoyable Sunday lunch.