Monday, November 28, 2016

Dave Phinney Locations Wines: AR, E and F

When Dave Phinney launches a new project, he has our attention. With this series of wines, he aims to capture the essence of the world’s greatest winemaking regions.

The Prisoner Freed

Dave Phinney could probably rest on his laurels. After all, he is the winemaker who created the phenomenally successful wine, The Prisoner.

Phinney later crafted one of our favorite wines, a 100% Grenache called Shatter in a partnership with Joel Gott. His latest project is Locations, wherein he attempts to blend a wine across all major appellations to represent the country of origin. That’s a rather ambitious undertaking – so we thought we needed to check his results!

You Know Those Enigmatic Bumper Stickers…

If you spend a lot of time in the car, like me, you no doubt have seen the oval bumper stickers representing a location. It might be GB for Great Britain, DE for Germany or OBX for the Outer Banks. Phinney saw an F sticker at the Charles de Gaulle airport and it gave him an epiphany.

His vision was to produce a range of wines across all of the major wine regions of the world, producing a wine that pays homage to their home land without compromise and without boundaries. There were no compromises on my end! I packed up my AR, F and E (Argentina, France and Spain) and trundled off to a rustic cabin weekend with some friends.

First to moisten the tasting glasses was Argentina. AR is a blend of Malbec from the Uco Valley in Mendoza along with a small quantity of Cabernet Sauvignon. We enjoyed this with a corn and ham casserole cooked on a wood-fired stove. This is a fine Malbec, with fruit forward goodness. It has rich flavors of brambles and jammy red fruit. The SRP is a tasty $17.99.

Spain is a proud country, and E wasn’t about to be shown up by a wine region from the New World. We uncorked Spain along with a Thanksgiving Day-style feast. Our wood-burning stove was being stoked for what seemed like half a day in order to generate the heat for our bird. We had turkey, stuffing (both the inside-the-bird and outside versions), braised Brussel sprouts, salad and butternut squash. Could the Spanish wine keep pace?

I visited Spain earlier this year – and this bottle brought it all back to me. It covers the outstanding regions of Priorat, Jumilla, Toro, Rioja, and Ribera del Duero. The grapes blended are  Garnacha, Tempranillo, Monastrell, and Cariñena. My guess is the Monastrell is from Jumilla, the Tempranillo from Rioja and Garnacha from Priorat. We’re told that there is ample representation from old vineyards.

This is a winning bottle, with lightness and balance. There are some pepper notes for accent, but smooth plums and raspberry make this a rewarding flavor ride. At $18.99 SRP, you are buying the best regions of Spain (although they’ll need to figure out how to highlight the great white and sparkling wines of the country).

The F Bottle

The F bottle (French that is!) got opened a few days later on Thanksgiving evening – back in the land of electricity. We were all rather full of turkey and football and we’re relaxing with some games and light snacks – cheese, crackers and the like.

The French wine is a mash-up of  Grenache, Syrah, and assorted Bordeaux varietals. I’d be interested in knowing what the other grapes are – although Grenache and Syrah are enough to whet my interest. The regions represented are Rhone, Roussillon, and Bordeaux.

Of the three wines, this was my least favorite. While still enjoyable, it seemed nervy. Just a bit too much heat and tannins for me. The alcohol level is 15%, which is about the highest you’ll see on a label of unfortified wine The exact blend isn’t shared, but I’d prefer a bit more Grenache (for smoothness) and perhaps a bit less from Roussillon, which lags behind Rhone and Bordeaux. Still, at $18.99 it is a good buy – especially if you are aiming to fill out your alphabet collection!

There are plenty more Locations to explore: Italy, Portugal, California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, a French rosé, California white and a Corsican white. These bottles have great visual appeal and pique the curiosity. We suggest that you embark to new Locations in the near future!

Full Disclosure: We received these wines as marketing samples.

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