A Great Value: “The Paring Wines”

A big challenge for wine lovers is to find excellent wine to enjoy at a great price. This is the “Holy Grail” for wine enthusiasts. One of the producers that fits that bill for me is “The Paring.” This is a label out of the Central Coast of California close to Santa Barbara. I found this wine when visiting Jonata in that same area. The Paring is Jonata’s second label and really worth every penny. How many pennies you ask? The Paring wines sell for $25 a bottle. Given what is in the bottle, this is remarkable!

They produce a red blend, a Syrah, a Pinot Noir, a Sauvignon Blanc, and a Rosé. They all sell for just $25 a bottle. Given the price point, one might be skeptical yet here are the reviews:

“Made by the team at Jonata, these wines are basically declassified lots that didn’t make the cut for the top Jonata releases.  These 2012s are a step up from past vintages and are crazy values. Don’t miss a chance to grab some of these!” Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate

“These are the first wines I have tasted from The Paring, the second label of Jonata and The Hilt. The four wines in this range are all absolutely delicious. Best of all, the wines are all priced at $25 a bottle, which makes them among the very finest values readers will find in California. A great choice for by the case purchases or glass pours, these new releases from The Paring deliver serious bang for the buck. It simply does not get better than this.” –Antonio Galloni, Vinous

Both Jeb and Antonio were particularly enthusiastic for The Paring Red, a wine focused on The Paring’s cabernet lots. The 2012 “The Paring Red” scored 92 points from Antonio Galloni and 91 points from Jeb Dunnuck.

I have drunk The Paring’s wines for several years. I send it to my in-laws in Illinois to share the love (and have great wine to drink when we visit). The Paring is currently offering $1.00 shipping on a case of wine.

Step up and grab some for your holiday events or anytime. They will not disappoint. Cooler weather is here, and the shipping price can’t be beat. To learn more or to place an order, go to the website, The Paring Wines, or send an email to wayne@theparingwines.com.


The Paring


Kale Anderson: A Winemaker to Watch

It has been said that the quality of a wine is mostly a function of the quality of the grapes. Others simply say that the wine is made in the vineyard. While all that is true, that last 20% of what makes a wine great is the winemaker. They are the ones who say when it is time to pick; they watch over the development of the flavors of the grapes; and it is their final touch that brings all the components together to the finished product’s expression.

One of those winemakers to take note of and watch is Kale Anderson. Better yet, drink his wine. He has learned his craft well from some of the best in the business. I first met Kale at a blending seminar put on by Pahlmeyer. This was a great event where we were given different varietals to make our own Rhone-like blend. He had just become Pahlmeyer’s new winemaker, and he was engaging and readily shared his knowledge. His first full vintage for Pahlmeyer was the 2012, and their Red Blend received 94 points from Parker. What was intriguing to me was that prior to joining Pahlmeyer he was assistant and then winemaker at Cliff Lede. This is another winery that I send folks to frequently based on wines I have tasted and bought there. Kale was the winemaker on a case of wine I bought at auction – Cliff Lede’s 2008 Poetry. His success has not gone unnoticed in the valley, and Wine Spectator included him as one of the “Four to Watch” in an article in their March 31, 2014 issue.

With all this evidence I had personally, I diligently bid for an e-lot at Auction Napa Valley, which included lunch with Kale accompanied by his wines under the Kale Wines label, which he started in 2008. This was a delightful event and a great opportunity to chat with Kale and his wife Ranko. Kale is very knowledgeable and readily shares his knowledge and insights as a winemaker. He attended UC Davis and originally was going into medicine, but then found his passion for winemaking by accident through an elective course. He graduated from UC Davis with a degree in Viticulture and Enology.

On the day of our lunch, we started with a bright and refreshing 2014 Rosé that was 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah. I personally do not drink a lot of Rosé; yet this was a killer, and I kept going back for more. Kale has a passion for Rhone inspired wine. He specializes in small production, handcrafted wines. We tasted through his rich red wines that are dominated by Syrah. 2008 was a deep multi-layered Syrah that I found myself going back to time and time again in the tasting. Each successive year of his wine offered nuances and depth of flavor that we all fully appreciated and enjoyed. The 2012 was my other favorite of the day – 75% Syrah and 25% Grenache. The grapes came from the Stagecoach Vineyard which is the largest, single vineyard in the valley. This was a luscious, big, rich, balanced wine with layers of flavor. It had a great finish that beckoned me back for more.

I invite you to find his wine and explore the flavors and balance for yourself. You can purchase his wine on-line at Kale Wines or by visiting The Wine Thief in downtown Napa. Stop in and taste the next time you are in Napa Valley.


The Wine Thief: It May Just Steal You Away!

The challenge for any small, boutique producer is how to get their wine tasted by the most important people – the buying public. The cost of overhead for a tasting room for a growing portfolio is daunting. Brick and mortar invested in a building is costly. Hiring tasting room associates is another big expense. The best resolve could be sharing overhead with others. This is how a “collective” is born. Bring many small, budding winemakers together and voila! What you have is a resource for all.

The Wine Thief is just that and more. It is the newest kid on the block in Napa, California located just across from the Oxbow Market. Oxbow Market is a destination by itself, and the convenience for wine lovers with the Wine Thief right next door is excellent. To simply walk across the street to enjoy several wines from many talented winemakers is a real plus. The Wine Thief setting is hip and has a cool vibe. The design is that of clean lines as you step up to the bar and are greeted and hosted by professionals who know their business. In fact, some of the folks pouring the tastings are the winemakers themselves. Not often do you get the chance to taste and chat with the person who makes the wine. No appointment necessary.

One of the principles is Andy Renda. Some of you may recall him from his days at Vintner’s Collective. He knows the wine business, and this venture is the real opportunity to showcase his winemaking skills as well. His Pinot Noir – Solamente – was a real winner. The wine presented with bright acidity and lush fruit that swept across the palate. He and his partner Jarred Pearce make a great cab (AJ Pearce) which was really plush with fruit and great tannic structure. I was taken by both of the wines.

There are several winemakers who are a part of this collective. Garrett Ahnfelt, whose label is G Wine Cellars, is another strong partner in the business. His wines are expressive and well balanced. I had the pleasure many years ago to meet Garrett and taste his wine.

Another standout from the line up is Kale Wines. Kale Anderson is the winemaker for Pahlmeyer and has his own label. His passion and love for Rhone varietals is very expressive in his wines, and you will hear more about this individual in an upcoming blog.

Am I going on and on? Yes I am — and for good reason. The Wine Thief is a great place to explore new and interesting wines that are well made from boutique winemakers. The “spirit” is lively and hip (no pun intended), and the people are solid – folks I respect and like. This is a must stop when in downtown Napa to discover new wines!