Dave Phinney Does It Again!


When I was summoned to the “luxury wine tasting” last Wednesday, the clouds were billowing and unruly, the wind was blowing angrily, and the sky threatened rain. As I followed the map down an industrial side road filled with construction workers and mechanic shops, I began to wonder if I was even going to a tasting at all; perhaps someone planned to do me in for some unknown offense I had committed. As I continued down the dirty stretch of road, I finally reached my destination and thought, “Maybe this is a tasting after all. There’s a patio and some string lights, but it is so dark in there…” As I walked into the bar, I was greeted with a friendly smile, but my fears were not exactly alleviated when the first bottle of wine held out to me bore a large, ominous ram skull with not a word written on it. Was it poison or elixir? Read on and let me tell you about The Crane Assembly’s 2015 “Disciples” the newest project from Dave Phinney; well, of course Phinney would be involved in this.

If you are unfamiliar with Dave Phinney, his wines will most certainly ring a bell. The man created such wines as Papillon, the Prisoner, and Mercury Head and has experienced great success with making intense, lush, and extracted wines. For the Crane Assembly, he and three others focused their efforts on a mere eight vineyards in Napa Valley that represent perhaps the

oldest vineyards in the area dating all the way back to 1885. The goal is simple: to share the history and tradition of Napa through fine wine.

The 2015 Disciples is not Cabernet, as you might expect, being from Napa. Rather, it is 95% Zinfandel and 5% Petite Sirah and it beautifully captures the varietals from primarily two small Napa vineyards. An opaque, tooth staining purple fills the glass while the aromas suggest brambly black fruit, smoke, and an underlying earthiness. The richness of the aromas is confirmed on the palate. This wine is BIG, jammy, and carries a definite viscosity with flavors of plum and spice coming through on its lingering finish. The alcohol is covered up quite well, considering it clocks in at a whopping 15.7%! That Parker guy is a fan as well, giving the 2014 94 Points with the 2015 still yet to be reviewed. This stuff is sure to pair well with the richest of BBQ fare and I think it will drink quite nicely over the coming years, so be sure to put a few away for a later day. Turns out it wasn’t poison after all.

The Crane Assembly’s 2015 Disciples retails for $46.99 a bottle or $507.50 for the case which includes your 10% discount. There are only about five cases in Ohio and who knows when we’ll see more, so get it while you can. Just remember, I put myself in (potential) harm’s way just so you could have a chance to try this wine.

Thanks for reading.


P.S.- I also wanted to highlight the 2010 Heitz Cellars Trailside Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2010 vintage in Napa was a cool one and the wines produced are incredibly dense and layered. The Trailside absolutely knocked my socks off. Still quite youthful, the wine has brooding aromas of espresso, dark cocoa, and char. The palate is quite savory with flavors of black cherry, plum, cedar, and mint followed by great acidity and smooth tannins. It’s drinking beautifully now, but will evolve for decades in the cellar. There are 15 bottles left at $119.99 per bottle. Truly special. 94 Points Vinous and Decanter.

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