Phinney sold the Locations brand this summer to Modesto's E and J Gallo, two years after selling off the Orin Swift brand. A price wasn’t announced, but Phinney will reportedly stay on as the winemaker "indefinitely."
For the fifth release of "F" Phinney has again tapped some of the best regions in France for grapes, drawing upon his network of growers from Rhone, Roussillon, and Bordeaux. Phinney says the grapes were grown in "exceptional old vine blocks located in revered sub-appellations." F5 is a blend of Grenache from the Roussillon, Syrah from the Rhone Valley and assorted Bordeaux varieties. The wine was fermented in oak vats, barrel-aged for ten months and has an alcohol content of 14.5% abv. It retails for about $20.
The wine is all Rhône on the nose, with a huge tar element along with anise and the smell of a nice box of cigars. The medium-dark wine has a palate of the northern Rhône valley, too, and a splash from the Roussillon - just hint of Bordeaux, to my taste. Dark fruit abounds and the oak usage is a treat, not a detriment. Tannins are firm enough for a hanger steak and the finish lasts a long time with plums and blackberries lingering. Phinney says drink it now, or let it evolve for four years or so.