One of my favorite places to visit in my neighborhood in Fairfax, Virginia is Swirl & Sip Wine Shop, which recently opened in the Mosaic District. Not only does this shop pay particularly close attention to special, hard-to-find wines, they constantly strive to learn and to teach others about these unique wines directly from the winemaker or owner’s mouth. Almost every week, a winemaker or owner comes to pour their wines at their tasting bar to talk about not only what went into making the wine, but the story behind the label with visiting patrons. The tastings are always free, and they showcase some very special wines, ranging from unusual locations and unique technique. They also offer most of the wines poured for sale after the tasting. In fact, a couple of weeks back, I met the Proprietor from Valley of the Moon Winery in California, and it was because of this tasting that I went to visit the vineyard while out in the Sonoma area shortly after. On this particular Wednesday, I had the pleasure of stopping in and meeting Bennett Sewell, Empresario of the Bodega Familia Sewell Vineyard and Winery in Argentina. Bennett originally got the idea of starting a winery while visiting Argentina a few years back and fell absolutely in love with every element of his trip, specifically the energy and excitement surrounding the wineries and vineyards that he visited. The flavors and characteristics of the Argentinian terroir on the wines that Bennett tasted instantly convinced him that he needed to be part of this industry. After heading back to Texas, where he had resided, Bennett decided to return to Mendoza and purchase two vineyards: The Finca Austin and Finca La Passion. From therein he hired a consultant, which he went on to marry and start a family with, and began producing wines under the name Bodega Familia Sewell in 2007 and has yet to look back.
The wines that we were able to taste carried a special character and quality that truly showed the unique terroir of Argentina and his vineyards. We started our tasting on this particular evening with the Estado Natural Clásico 100% Torrontés. This white spin on Malbec shows floral and honey-dipped pear on the nose with smooth honey lining complemented by citrus zest and light apricot on the palate. It finishes with smooth acidity that is both light and fresh. Up next, we move onto the Estado Natural Reserva Malbec 2008. The nose is completely ensconced in woody character adding a solid backbone of black fruit, while cherry and toast notes settle the palate surrounded by a veil of vanilla and a fresh, lengthy finish. This proved to be our favorite of the three that we tasted, but don’t discount the last wine – the Estado Natural Gran Reserva 2007. This wine explodes with bold cedar and juicy cherry aromas backed by nuances of dark plum and doesn’t disappoint when it comes to flavor. Showing a flood of cedar wood up front, this wine tapers into dark berries mid palate, finishing with a zinger of pepper, and leather undertones throughout. If you appreciate a heavy presence of cedar or oak, these reds are for you. Overall, we were impressed with the wines and took home a bottle of the Malbec Reserva, as I mentioned before. Be on the lookout for more wines from this winery. Make you stop by Swirl & Sip, if you are in the Northern Virginia area, for a change from the norm when it comes to quality wine selections. Also, visit their website, and sign up for their newsletter so you can find out which winemaker will be pouring at their store next, as well as the excellent deals they have to offer: www.swirl–sip.com