In his 40+ years of criticism, rarely has the world’s most influential critic, Robert Parker, bestowed such glowing praise on bargain reds as he has on the wines of David Phinney, famous for the runaway success of his “Prisoner” release. Phinney’s Locations wines have earned lavish praise from Parker, who declared Phinney his “value winemaker of the year” in Issue #213 of The Wine Advocate. “If there are better wines for under $20 a bottle in the world today,” Parker challenged, “please share that information with The Wine Advocate.” Today’s Locations AR6 comes from the foothills of the snowcapped Andes in Argentina. This stunningly opulent Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon blend is his most full-throttle, bombastic release yet. Released at $22, only $15.99 per bottle from Wine Access. 56 cases and a preemptive sorry in advance to those who get shut out.
Rarely over the last 30 years has Robert M. Parker, Jr. published glowing reviews of bargain red wines in such abundance as those showered on the work of winemaker David Phinney, whom you should know from his runaway success with “The Prisoner.”
Seven times in the last 11 years, Phinney authored wines that ranked in the Wine Spectator Top 100. But it was Parker who came in with the most emphatic statement, lavishing rare praise on Phinney and his iconoclastic Locations line:
“Terroirists will claim the devil has possessed Phinney, as his offerings from France, Italy and Spain are all blends from different sectors of each country. If you judge wines on how they taste and the degree of pleasure they offer, they are all incredible efforts. … 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… Kudos to Dave Phinney!”
If the devil did possess Phinney, it was to brilliant effect. Over the last few years, we’ve offered Phinney’s Locations wines a handful of times — releases whose origins ranged from the schist-strewn soils of Maury to Phinney’s original stomping grounds, Napa Valley. They disappeared on sight. For Locations, he went farther afield than ever before — to the foothills of the snow-capped Andes in Argentina’s Mendoza wine region.
We can’t say we’re surprised. Since “The Prisoner,” Phinney has shown a penchant for full-throttle reds — and his Argentinian release may be his most bombastic yet. After the first sip from our glass, painted deepest purple, we wondered what accounted for not only the tremendous richness, but also the chiseled, age-worthy structure and Pauillac-like persistence of Phinney’s A6.
The answer begins with Mendoza’s high-desert climate. It rarely rains, but when it does, it comes down by the bucketful, sometimes turning to hail the size of baseballs. The vines employed by Phinney in the Uco Valley boast a complex root structure, spidering through light sand and gravel, seeking out water reserves deep in the substrata, helping the ancient vines fend off hydric stress during the arid summers.
Daily temperatures before harvest might touch 90, only to drop precipitously overnight. This radical diurnal temperature change allows the vines to push out tiny yields per acre of terrifically concentrated, small-cluster fruit — BB-sized berries of particularly high skin-to-juice ratio— explaining both the AR6’s luscious, juicy core and its fine, supple tannin structure.
The Locations A6 is primarily Malbec, with a healthy dollop of broad-shouldered, big-boned Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep purple to the edge, with a beautifully delineated nose of crushed black fruits, plums, and soil. The attack here straddles the line between the New World and the Old, featuring a mix of chiseled blackberry, redcurrant, and raspberry preserves, all bracketed by classic Pauillac vibrancy and structure. Gorgeous.
Editor-in-Chief, Wine Access
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