By Steve Jacobson & Laurent Jouvin –
Dave Phinney is one of the finest winemakers of our time. He made his name when he made the great Zinfandel-Cabernet Sauvignon blend, THE PRISONER. He followed it up with a great Zinfandel, SALDO. His Syrah, D66, is a superb wine… among many others.
One of his latest projects is called LOCATIONS. We have mentioned it a few times on our site already. Both of us have had Locations wine tasting parties, and the most recent one was a wonderful experience.
The simple concept – Make the best possible wine from a specific country or location. The not so simple execution – Research vineyards to find out who can deliver the quality needed for this project.
The LOCATIONS – Imagine traveling the world to visit amazing vineyards, meet very cool people, and challenge everyone to make the best wine possible.
Speaking of LOCATIONS, here is the list of where the various wines are made from –
E – Spain
F – France
I – Italy
CA – California
AR – Argentina
• Spanish Red Wine – Some of the most notable growing regions on the Iberian Peninsula are Priorat, Jumilla, Toro, Rioja and Ribera del Duero. The wine is a blend of Grenache (Garnacha), Tempranillo, Monastrell and Carignan (Carinena). It is aged in barrels for 10 months.
• French Red Wine – Getting grapes from Bordeaux, The Rhône and the Roussillon is part of what goes into this wine. It is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and other assorted Bordeaux varietals. It is aged in barrels for 10 months.
• Italian Red Wine – There are more than 2000 indigenous grape varieties in Italy. Woah… That’s a lot to keep track of… This wine takes its grapes from the south near Puglia and from the north in Piemonte. It is blended from Negroamaro, Nero d’Avola, Barbera, and other varietels from Puglia. It is aged in barrels for 10 months.
• California Red Wine – “California is a country unto itself…” Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and the Sierra Foothills are all sources for this amazing wine. It is a blend of Tempranillo, Barbera, Petit Sirah, Syrah and Grenache. It is aged in barrels for 10 months.
• Argentinian Red Wine – There is a vineyard at the foot of the Andes Mountains in Mendoza. The grapes of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat are brought together to make this great blend. It is aged in barrels for 10 months.
The beauty and fun of all of this is that every one of these wines are very approachable. They are also affordable at about $18 a bottle (although California goes for $24).
No one needs a reason to drink wine. So that’s exactly what we did! We drank wine for no reason. Well, we did have a reason – Dave Phinney and his astonishing project called LOCATIONS. We’ve always been so impressed about his ability to travel to foreign countries, while being able to produce a wine of such quality.
So we gathered a group of friends (about 20 people), lured them with five shiny bottles of red wine, and they all came. Go figure! We’re all from various connections: colleagues, family, friends, neighbors, PTA members (yes, we have kids. Why do you think we enjoy wine so much?)… but we all have one thing in common: a passion for taste and of course, WINE.
It was a little unfair considering we were drinking 5 completely different wines, from 5 different countries no less. We didn’t want people to judge the wines by comparing them to each other, but rather tasting them one at a time and offer an opinion based on personal preference. The big reminder here is that those 5 wines have nothing in common, other than the winemaking process and of course the winemaker himself.
So we put together a wine tasting sheet and asked everyone to score the wine based on personal taste – again, trying not to compare them. We went in the order of original release and started with Spain. We followed by France, Italy, California, and finished with Argentina.
Not too surprisingly, California ranked an amazing 314 points, but Argentina won over California by just half of a point. We totally get it. Strong aromas of cassis, lavender, blueberry, and a subtle hint of cedar box, a pleasing and weighty finish… After all, who can say no to that?! As much as Laurent enjoyed those two wines, his favorite was Italia followed by France for its higher concentration of mineral tone, spice and characteristic acidity. But he is from France thus attracted to the distinctive style of French wine. Steve’s favorites were California and Argentina. All 5 wines may be completely different from each other but they all received the same amount of attention and care during the winemaking process. Therefore, we can all agree that they are of a similar quality. But yet, people preferred some over the others… not because they were better, but simply based on personal preference and sensibilities. There you have it, the obvious proof that taste in wine remains highly subjective. Here are the final results:
España : 264
France : 269.5
Italia : 286
California : 314
Argentina : 314.5
Stay tuned for more wine tastings…
For $18 a bottle (California @ $24), go have a LOCATIONS wine tasting yourself and see which one you like the most…