Winemaking Against The Grain
We uncorked the four latest Locations wines to find out. In our minds the answer is a resounding “yes.”
The Old And New Worlds
Of the many Locations wines we’ve tried over the past few years, E is our favorite. Spanish reds are delicious and the Locations wine boundary-busting blend captures the spirit of the country. It is a blend of Garnacha (Grenache), Tempranillo, Monastrell and Cariñena. Three powerhouse regions are represented: Priorat, Ribera del Duero and Rioja. Also in the blend are grapes from Toro and Jumilla.
The entry from France is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and various Bordeaux varieties (we assume Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc and Merlot, maybe a few more). The grapes are sourced from Phinney’s network of growers in Rhone, Roussillon and Bordeaux. That prompts us to ask, “What is Burgundy, chopped liver?”
There is no arguing with the results, though. Grenache and Syrah are a classic Rhone formula. Syrah is also widely grown in Roussillon. The emphasis here is on red fruit, with notes of strawberry and cranberry with just a touch of earthiness. This is a solid and enjoyable wine and a great French value at sub-$20.
We uncorked the NZ at a wine dinner to serve with a spread of appetizers that included stuffed mushrooms. My wife is an extreme Sauvignon Blanc fan with a preference for New Zealand’s Marlborough region. For the NZ edition Locations stayed in one region, but sourced the grapes from three different valleys with different characteristics.
All the hallmarks are there including bright grapefruit and tropical flavors. The flavors of freshly cut grass add to the refreshing experience.
Pizza and Petite Sirah
We go bonkers over Washington State wine and this did not disappoint. It is a blend of Syrah, Merlot and Petite Sirah. The producer is coy about the specific wine regions used, just saying it is sourced from “within the state’s best growing regions.” To us, that means it includes Walla Walla Valley, Horse Heaven Hills, and certainly Columbia Valley (which covers most the the vineyards in the eastern part of the state and drifts into Oregon too).
This is an elegant and enjoyable drinking experience. Although it has 15% ABV, it doesn’t taste “hot.” It is smooth and fruit forward with plum and black cherry notes. The Merlot softens the Syrah and the Petite Sirah adds a bit of mystery.
This is the first Locations Washington State blend and we applaud the effort. There are some unique AVAs in Washington, so we’d love to know specifically what’s represented in the blend.
We recently received a news item announcing that Locations has been acquired by E&J Gallo. We hope that the creativity and high QPR (Quality Price Ratio) continue with these wines. Dave Phinney has a magic touch with winemaking. He created the wildly successful Prisoner blend, then later built up the Orin Swift brand – both of which he later sold. Phinney will continue to be the Locations winemaker.
Whatever your location, you’ll like it better with a glass or two of Locations!
Full Disclosure: These wines were received as a marketing sample.