We originally met Anthony a couple of years back when we happened to have a free afternoon in Paso Robles and through a conversation with the folks over at Barrel 27, it was suggested that Anthony was someone we absolutely had to meet, oh and as is typical in Paso, they called over and made our appointment for us. Paso’s a small winemaking community that really does look out for one and other. While plenty of wine regions talk about their comradely, as an outsider it seems more apparent in Paso than it does elsewhere.
In a lot of ways, Anthony represents exactly what’s so exciting about the whole scene in Paso Robles. First, he’s young. In fact he’s probably the only winemaker (at a major winery at least and Denner is among the 3 most important properties in Paso) I’ve come across clearly younger than I am. Secondly, he was among the first class of winemakers coming out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s viticulture department. For generations UC Davis has in essence, been the only game in town when it comes to educating winemakers in California. Calpoly, given it’s proximity to the outstanding wine regions in both Paso and Santa Barbara stands to push Davis in ways that no other domestic winemaker training program has been able to, to date. Lastly and most importantly, he makes damn good wine.
If you were to ask my wife and I to make a list of winery based wine clubs that we’d gladly join at full retail, we’d probably both create a rather short list. After all, it’s easy to get accustomed to samples and buying at California wholesale or better. In any case, Kinero would be the only winery at we’d both include on our lists that focuses on white wine. That’s partly because the wine is really good, they are undoubtedly complex white wines and it’s also partly because we have both enjoyed our time and conversations with Anthony when we’ve met him in person, even picking up a few cases of wine at one point at his house on a Sunday afternoon as we were driving through Paso Robles. With any small winery, even one coming from an established winemaker, personality counts.
So what makes the wines at Kinero so unique and perhaps more importantly, how do these white wines differ than those Anthony makes at Denner Vineyards?
To start, I find there to be a greater amount of acidity in the Kinero offerings. The Denner white’s really do remind me of what you might associate with a style in Napa, bigger and rounder fruit. Tasting room and critical stars all, to be sure. Kinero offers, in my estimation a more natural expression of the grapes involved especially the Rustler (Roussane) and Alice (Grenache Blanc).
Secondly, you’ll also note that there is a notable difference in price points involved for the wine’s we are talking about. At $22 Alice is among the best deals in California wine and at $30 the Rustler deserves an even greater amount of attention than it already receives in the press.
The Rustler I think also introduces a concept why winemaker personal labels can be an interesting and unique way to access great wine.
Denner Vineyards is located next door to the famed James Berry Vineyard. If you aren’t familiar with James Berry (you should be) Robert Parker once called it one of the 5 Grand Cru vineyards in the state of California. That is, if we borrowed the French naming convention for the quality of a site, the James Berry Vineyard would be among the 5 best in the state and the absolute best in Paso Robles. Owned by Saxum Vineyards, their James Berry vineyard designate wines have consistently achieved critical scores of 95 points and above, often while costing $70 or more per bottle.
With Kinero’s Rustler priced at $30, that’s an incredible opportunity to taste some of the best fruit in California and really the world, at an affordable, reasonable price point.
Oh and if you’re wondering how that relationship between a rival winemaker and a great winery might have been born, the James Berry and Denner Vineyards are separated by what amounts to a golf cart path.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the short intro to Kinero Cellars and Anthony Yount. He is a winemaker and a wine label worth checking out the next time you’re looking for an interesting, unique and simply good white wine.