You’d have to be living under a pile of schist to not know winemaker Dave Phinney. He created The Prisoner zinfandel blend about a decade ago and it has since been sold twice to wine business monoliths.
In an industry known for standards and tradition, Phinney does things differently. His Orin Swift wines have the spooky labels my kids point out, such as the Mannequin and the sexy Machete. With his Locations wines, Phinney set out to “make the best possible wine from a given country or location.” Sounds like a simple, straight-line goal. Not so much. Phinney breaks the traditional boundaries by blending varietals, vineyards, and vintages.
For wine consumers, we don’t have to clumsily check wine apps for scores or try and recall vintage details. We trust that Dave Phinney nails it for us. He sources quality fruit from quality vineyards in famed regions to make quality wine. The leg work alone in creating Locations wines should equal steep prices. Nope, Phinney has our back on this one, too. The Locations wines all retail under $20. The wine labels look like a foreign license plate with a clean white background and large, black letter abbreviations of the wine’s region, such as WA for Washington and AR for Argentina.
I happily worked my way through several bottles of Locations recently and these were my favorites:
Locations NZ6, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc—100 percent sauvignon blanc from Wairau Valley, Awatere Valley, and Waihopai. Stainless-steel fermented. Fittingly, as New Zealand sauv blancs are known for their crisp grassy essence, we sipped this while lounging on the grass at Salt Creek Beach at sunset.
Locations F5 Rose, French Rose Wine—100 percent grenache from the south of France. Stainless-steel fermented. A perfect complement to my summer chicken salad or a charcuterie plate.
Locations OR5, Oregon Red Wine—100 percent pinot noir from the Willamette Valley. Barrel-aged in French oak for 10 months. I drink a fair amount of Oregon pinot and really dug this wine, which I served with grilled bone-in pork chops.
Locations I4, Italian Red Wine—A blend of negroamaro and nero d’avola from southern Puglia with barbera from the north of Piemonte. Barrel-aged 10 months. This wine was delicious. I kept refilling my glass. We enjoyed it with a meaty pizza.
Locations wines can be found in many groceries, wine stores, and restaurants throughout Orange County. Go to locationswines.com to find a location nearest to you.