This cellar note includes four of winemaker Dave Phinney’s Locations wines. We begin in New Zealand then stop off in Europe, to visit France and Spain, before reaching our final destination of Washington State. No passport required. We received all four wines as tasting samples.
The first thing you probably notice about the Locations wines are the distinctive black and white labels. The labels are designed after the oval, country decals common on European cars and identify the country of origin for the wine. There is one exception to this labeling convention for the Locations wines — the rectangular, red label, Corse, for his Corsican White Wine.
Dave’s goal with the Locations wines is to make a wine representative of the country (or U.S. state) without regard for vintage or appellation requirements. He feels these restrictions tie the hand of winemakers, so he dispenses with them. He will blend varieties beyond appellation boundaries and you will not find vintage dates. You will find each wine has a number identifying it as one in a series for that country.
So, if you’re ready to break all the rules, give these Locations wines a try. Our tasting notes begin with the white wine and move on to the red wines beginning with the lightest in the group and finishing with the heaviest-bodied wine.
Locations NZ7 – New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc — light golden-green in the glass with generous aromas of cut grass, gooseberries and citrus zest. The flavors follow with tart, citrusy flavors laced with cut grass and green herbs. Dusty minerality makes it way into the background flavors. 13.5% abv. SRP $19.99
This bright, zesty Sauvignon Blanc is easily identified as not only Sauvignon Blanc, but Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. It is made with 100% Sauvignon Blanc fermented in stainless steel. It is bright, fresh and refreshing. Pair it with pasta primavera, salads or simply a warm afternoon.
Locations F5 – French Red Wine — medium ruby, translucent at the rim of the glass. Generous aromas of juicy red and dark berries combine with dried herbs in the background. Ripe blackberries, dusty earth, drying tannins combine for a pleasing wine that does not give away its relatively high alcohol. It’s medium bodied, but not heavy by any means. 15% abv. SRP $19.99
This easy-drinking red wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and assorted Bordeaux varieties — see what I mean about blending across appellation boundaries? Pair this wine with a burger or pizza.
Locations E5 – Spanish Red Wine — medium ruby in the glass with generous aromas of blackberries and cedar. Flavors of ripe plums, blackberries combine with cedar and earth. Tannins are grippy in this medium-bodied wine, which has juicy acidity. 15% abv. SRP $19.99
This wine is a bit riper tasting and had a bit more body and texture. The blend of grapes includes Garnacha (Grenache), Tempranillo, Monastrell (Mourvèdre) and Cariñena (Carignan). Pair this wine with lamb chops or a lamb burger.
Locations WA5 – Washington Red Wine — dense ruby in the glass with ripe plum and cherry flavors. Complex flavors of ripe plums, dusty earth, crushed flower stems and dried herbs combine with tannins that are well integrated with the flavors. The body is at least medium in weight. 15% abv. SRP $19.99
Syrah, Merlot and Petite Sirah from Washington state are blended and aged in both French and American oak barrels. This is a big, extroverted glass of wine. It begs to be paired with a grilled rib-eye steak. Add a baked potato with all the fixings for good measure.
You may have read recently that Dave Phinney and his import partner have sold the Locations brand to E&J Gallo. The current plan, according to what I have read, is for Phinney to remain as winemaker for the brand.
You may be interested in this podcast, titled Big Visions, by GuildSomm’s Geoff Kruth. Geoff interviews both Dave Phinney and Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon about their experience and success in the wine business. Surely no one else in the wine industry has worked harder than Dave Phinney.