Phinney’s Locations: Changing the Meaning of Under-$20
Dave Phinney’s star continues to rise. In the last 11 years, he has earned Wine Spectator Top 100 placements an incredible seven times. Phinney’s early raves came in response to “The Prisoner,” an extravagant and powerful old-vine red blend, but lately, critics have been lapping up his Locations wines. Robert Parker was speaking for many when he wrote: “As of now, Dave Phinney might be my ‘value winemaker of the year’ candidate. … If there are better wines for under $20 a bottle in the world today, please share that information with The Wine Advocate. These are all remarkable efforts. Kudos to Dave Phinney!” Phinney’s incredible streak continued in 2015 as he set up shop in the south of France, crafting Locations F5, an ultra-concentrated blend drawn straight from his “Prisoner” script. Bold and juicy, loaded with lush red fruit, the F5 takes your expectations of what an under-$20 wine could taste like, and dashes them against the rocks. Those of you in the know have doubtless locked in to cases already. For the uninitiated, take our advice: Move quickly. At $15.99 per bottle, this 75-case allocation will go fast.
To capture his love of France in a bottle, Phinney did what he does best, working with a network of small growers in the Rhône, Roussillon, and Bordeaux, ultimately crafting a masterful blend favoring old-vine Grenache and Syrah. The result is, predictably, exceptional; a rich, schist-infused wine, with a story to tell. It’s the kind of wine that inspired Parker to call Phinney “one of the more creative young minds in all of the world’s winedom,” and to congratulate Phinney for “doing things that are far beyond his modest age” and “the brilliant individuality/singularity of all of his efforts.”
Phinney’s journey to superstar status began over a plate of pasta in a Florentine trattoria. Studying abroad with a group of students, one of whom belonged to a California wine family, Phinney grew intrigued by his classmate’s tales of the world of winemaking. When he returned to the University of Arizona, Phinney volunteered to participate in an experimental vineyard project. Then a job at a local fine wine shop allowed access to the many sample bottles that came through the doors. Next, a summer job working the harvest at Mondavi Winery. When Phinney finally pulled together a couple thousand bucks to buy two tons of grapes, he named his wine “The Prisoner” — and the rest is history.