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Swan 1999 Zinfandel Mt. Olivet Mancini Ranch (Russian River Valley) – 13.9%. There aren’t many 1999 zinfandels I would be, of my own volition, holding this long (a statement somewhat belied by my cellar contents, but…well, see the next sentence). The ones I would are all from wineries much more concerned about structural edifices than Swan, which allows structure in its essentials but does not push the wine to achieve that structure. And so, here’s a fully mature zin, with juicy mixed berries, black pepper, and a cat’o’nine acidities in the finish. Quite attractive. On day two and from a mostly empty bottle it’s still steady-state, so I suspect that the maturity in question is a plateau rather than a moment. (10/11)


Swan 2008 Pinot Noir “Cuvée des Trois” (Russian River Valley) – Absolutely gorgeous, bringing lush New World fruit into a fine simulacrum of maturity even at this very young age; while past experience suggests that the wine will endure and morph for a while, this specific bottle gives me cause to question that norm. In any case, I see absolutely no reason not to drink this right now, because it’s delicious. Soil, baked plums, fall leaves, rich morels, and soft golden memories of old-growth forest and well-tilled earth. I could drink a case of this, and still be on my feet…Joni Metaphorically-speaking. (11/10)


Mud House “Swan” 2007 Pinot Noir Bendigo (Central Otago) – Smoky/musty raspberry, beet, and sugarplum. OK, but there’s a candied element that detracts. (3/09)

Swans crossing

[vineyard]Swan 2000 Pinot Noir “Cuvée de Tois” (Russian River Valley) – Perhaps not all the way to wherever its going, but it’s in a strangely bipolar place now. The palate is light, crisp, and pure, full of red cherry and sharp raspberry acidity. But the nose, while it has some nice earthen elements, also speaks loudly and repetitively of smoke and cola. None of it is anywhere close to bad, and it’s a compelling enough wine to go back to again and again in an attempt to make some sense of it, but it’s just weird. (1/09)

Charlton Heston

Swan “Mad House” 2006 Pinot Noir Clearview (Bendigo) – Finally, we get a wine carrying the appellation of the ocean of vineyards that make up the Central Otago’s “secret” supply. It’s structured and mineralistic, but lacks generosity. (2/08)