2021 Orin Swift Palermo Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

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Poured as a dark garnet, the wine opens with primary aromas of ripe cassis and blackberry. Supporting hints of dark chocolate, toasted oak and cedar support the typical Orin Swift Cabernet Sauvignon nose. The entry is flooding with notes of dark fruits and a mid-palate bolstered with redcurrant, bay leaf and a reemergence of cassis. The wine closes with well-developed tannins and a striking minerality despite the supple and soft finish.

It's long been official – Dave Phinney of Orin Swift is a phenomenon. Whether it's the throngs of people we see jammed in his Saint Helena tasting room all summer long, or the constant stream of great press about his projects – not just in Napa, but around the world – this guy is on a serious roll. The fire that he sparked with The Prisoner shows no sign of abating. Phinney's genius was simply to perfect and popularize something that already had deep roots in California wine: the "mixed blacks" wine of yore—sweet-fruited, dark as night, served in a whiskey tumbler. His wines are unapologetically ripe, hedonistic, and just plain delicious. Simple as that.

Cabernet Sauvignon
Dave Phinney
11 months
Oak Treatment:
French & American oak, 34% New
Napa Valley
Total Varietal Composition %:
100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Alcohol %:
Score Wine Advocate:
SKU #:
750 ml Bottle

Wine Advocate

Traditionally, Palermo included wine that didn't make it into Mercury Head or Papillon, but winemaker Dave Phinney now buys some fruit specifically targeted for this bottling. The 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon Palermo—a blend of estate-grown and purchased fruit aged 11 months in 34% new oak—includes small proportions of Merlot and Malbec. Offering up cherries, cassis and slightly earthy scents, plus hints of cinnamon and nutmeg on the nose, it's full-bodied and nicely balanced, with its firmness matched by softness. It's just a nice drink overall. Best After 2023