Sunday, May 7, 2017








                                       LOCATION   LOCATION   LOCATION

This term is often used in real estate to suggest that property location is the cause for value based on where the property is located.  In the wine world the same also applies as certain locations are the home to valuable and most often famous vineyards. These plots of land are recognized as grand cru or other other designations and their fruit produces wines with certain quality.  Though out Europe the wines are identified by their region and or vineyard name.  Most of the wines in this area are expensive and deserve the price due to their outstanding quality and history of production.

                                                     DAVID PHINNEY
The person behind to wines shown above is David Phinney.  He took the concept that if you dedicate yourself to working with vineyards which have old vines and growers who share the idea of growing fruit which represents the area and country of production.  He spent many many visits to areas outside of the central wine hubs of the respective countries where he would in the end make a non-vintage wine.  His goal was to craft high quality wine reflective of the overall culture of each country.  What you have in each bottle of Locations is a blend of fruit from different regions which are blended to achieve a rich and balanced wine with a lot of flavors.  The current releases of Location are the number 4 series which you can see on the back label.  As you can guess there is still wine that will be used for the coming #5 but that will not happen for awhile.  The labels as you can see are represented by the letter of the country as you would see it on a license and on the left side is the color of the flag of the nation of origin.   I recently had a tasting of the three wines above with members of my wine tasting group and here is what we thought.  The price per bottle is around $15, which in my opinion is a steal for the quality
                                                      BOTTLING
Locations wines are all bottled at a facility outside the city limits of Barcelona.  This allows for the control of quality and shipping.  You will notice that all of the above wines are bottled in the same shape bottle, which is not cheap.   The corks used are of the highest quality and the glass is superior to most of that which is used in Europe. The winery cuts no corners when it comes to production and export.
                                                      FRANCE
F for France is just a superb bottle of wine made from a blend of Grenache, Syrah and mixed Bordeaux varietals.  The origin of the fruit is from the Rhone, Roussillon, Maury and Bordeaux regions of France. It checks in at a healthy 15% ABV, but is not hot or course at all.  Very aromatic and integrated tannins make this a joy to drink anytime.   Aged 10 months in oak prior to bottling.  In my opinion this wine far exceeds the majority of wines from each of the above regions which retail in same price range. The generous fruit and complex flavors that you get do not appear  at the lower levels of each region. The blend is better than the single part.

                                                         SPAIN
E for Spain is an example of the quest for fruit from many different regions of the country. The blend of Grenache, Tempranillo, Monastrell and Carignan  is sourced from the following regions: Priorat, Jumilla, Toro, Rioja and Ribera del Duero.  Quite rich with berries, plum and cherry this is a mouthful of medium full fruit and a lavish finish. With an ABV of 14.5 this is a ripe and round wine. Quite simply put this is delicious ...   Again this has more weight and body than the average young Spanish Tempranillo.  This bottling has the capacity to age for a while and gain more complexity.  

                                                          ITALY
I for Italy. David found the base vineyards to make this lovely wine with the following varietals: Puglia provided Negroamaro and Nero d'Avola and that was blended with Barbara from the Asti region of Piemonte.  David feels this wine with its solid core of acidity and can age for a number of years to  gain more complexity.  It checks in at 14.5% ABV and again is all about fruit.  There is more of an earthy and tar like quality which is in the background. You could compare this wine with the name most people know, Chianti and this is different with much more obvious fruit flavors and more texture to the body.  This would compliment any Italian dish and make the meal a joy.

*  The Locations wines were provided by Balzac Communications which also linked writers to an interactive video conference with David Phinney.

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Gray Report: Trump winery needs Mexican farmworkers: Hot takes and realistic takes

The Gray Report: Trump winery needs Mexican farmworkers: Hot takes and realistic takesAt the Bloggers Convention in Lodi, many growers talked about the problem of skilled labor to tend to their vineyards. At harvest time it is crunch time to pick fruit that is at its optimum. Our Latino labor partners do so much for our economy and for the most part for lower wages. Restaurants, hotels, agriculture would suffer in so many ways. Most Americans look down their noses at the work and compensation. The Donald has not real clue.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Benefits of Friends with Cellars

                              Benefits of Friends with Wine Cellars

There is a huge benefit to knowing people who have followed and cellared wine for a number of years.  The first rule is that people with older cellars have in their possession many fine bottles and also some that have met their maker.  A few of my friends who have handsome cellars are in the 50+ years old bracket. Their collection of wines start anywhere from the 1960's (or earlier) to vintages from the past few years.  People who establish a cellar quite often have been in the wine trade and obtained their wines when they fell in love with a certain property or Chateau.  When these friends gather they share those wines which they are most fond. More often than not the discussion becomes a bit of a history lesson for all parties.

               The Palate Changes With Time

As a younger collector my first desire was California Cabernet and french Bordeaux.  In the late sixties and early seventies it was possible to buy top quality wines for a modest amount of money. The level of interest was not at today's level.  Wineries poured all of their wines and there was no tasting fee.  There also were very few picnic grounds and top tier restaurants to visit.  Sutter Home to name one winery made more than a dozen wines. French Sauternes were plentiful and quite reasonable.  Older vintages were often available in notable vintages.  Burgundies were plentiful as the a run of good vintages combined with a strong American dollar made it easy to purchase high quality wine for not much more than upper level domestic Napa Cabernet.  Put all these factors together and it was a perfect time to be a consumer.  The Heublein Auctions also powered more interest into fine wine.

                                    The Paris Tasting and White Zinfandel.


Two major changes to California and the national wine scene came with the Judgement of Paris and the advent of White Zinfandel.  American wine culture gained instant recognition with the results of the Paris tasting and the race was on to compete with the best wines of France.  Cabernet and Chardonnay became every day words and were a form of wine wisdom from people with limited experience.  This was to the benefit of society as more and more people began to switch from beer and hard liquor to wine. What once was a beverage of the well to do now became wine for the masses.  Solid well made wine was available for reasonable prices. In the past 40+ years vineyard acreage and wineries have exploded all over California.


Sutter Home started the White Zinfandel model and never looked back. The wild growth of this popular wine gained millions of new wine drinkers.  In the process Sutter Home cut down the number of wines produced and focused on growing its brand and started to acquire other wineries which needed capital to improve.  Today they are the American success story.  A family business which it still is has grown into a multi million dollar business which has branches all over the United States and in foreign markets also.

                                           Consuming Older Vintages With Friends
                               
Some of the pictures above show wines that were shared over dinners and special events with friends. The joy of wine is in the ability to share with others and experience not only the wine but conversation of what the wine represents in the course of history.  People with cellars are open to sharing bottles when they believe that the people at table have an interest and some level of appreciation of what is being served.  I have enjoyed a number of wines which I could never acquire but were poured with the knowledge that the wine was a treat on many levels. Vintage on a bottle is often used to celebrate: birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and many other forms of celebration. My suggestion is to share wine and develop a core of like friends.  Over the years you will learn from each other and widen your horizon with respect to wines from all over the world. There is always a good wine on the market at a price that meets your needs. Start a tasting group and watch your world open up.  Remember wine is all about people and friendship.