Kinero Cellars and Royal Nonesuch Farm is what happens when a talented and original winemaker (Anthony Yount) has access to high quality vineyards around the Paso Robles area, allowing for high quality wine that are devoid of macho posturing or inflated ego.
At 25 years old, Anthony began his journey as a “cellar rat” at Denner Vineyards on the western side of the Paso Robles AVA. A cellar rat does all the odd jobs in the winery. Cleaning, working the tasting room with customers, or whatever is needed during vintage. It’s hard graft. A real education in more ways than one.
Since 2008, Anthony’s side hustle is producing his own single-vineyard white wines at Kinero Cellars; and, since 2011, his Estate red, The Royal Nonesuch Farm.
Paso Robles AVA is a part of the San Luis Obispo wine county on the Central Coast in California. It lies between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Here is Anthony pointing to where they are on a map of California. Imagine California as an outstretched arm…
Established in 1983, the wines from Paso Robles AVA show how the original pioneering spirit is still alive and present.
While 49% of grapes grown are Cabernet Sauvignon, the rest are mostly Rhone grape varietals. That’s a possible combination of 21 different grapes. What seems certain is southern Rhone varietals thrive in the steep hills of the western side of the AVA.
Day and Night
If it were not for the natural ‘air-conditioning’ effect of the cool ocean breezes through the Templeton Gap, it would be very hot indeed. In summer, daytime temperatures can reach up to 47 degrees Celsius. The cool breezes cool down the grapes and give a fresh acidity to the easy ripeness.
Anthony also makes a Chardonnay in the coolest AVA in California, Arroyo Grande Valley AVA; as well as, York Mountain AVA for his The Royal Nonesuch Farm estate red, which is technically not in San Luis Obispo County but is contiguous to the western edge of Paso Robles.
When pressed, Anthony explained he was really trying to get away from “the perfume counter at Macy’s” style of overblown aromatics. His wines have a a soldering sweet core of fruit that becomes mouthwateringly savoury on the finish.
The Chardonnay, for example, is full of delicious sunshine-y tropical fruit. Yet there is no feeling of the fruit being manipulated to a certain idea of what a Chardonnay should be.
As mentioned in previous posts, my theory on oak is much like my theory on makeup. It can either enhance or overwhelm beauty.
Following the analogy, these wines have a “natural” look. The relaxed feeling is partly down to partial fermentation in concrete rather than (over) extended sessions in oak.
Other decisions in the winery, such as extended skin contact for the Roussanne, as well as, wild yeast ferments for the Chardonnay, make these exciting wines to taste.
Organic credentials often comes up when talking about Paso Robles AVA. This is good news for winemakers and wine lovers alike: having good neighbours “upstream” is important for the day to day production of organic wine.
Although the definition of organic wine in the United States is not codified in the same way as the European Union (see my oh-so, thrilling study on international tariffs in the global drinks trade), winemakers still need to slog through 400 pages of documents to fill in to get an organic certification.
With current labour shortages in California, from new immigration rules, the Covid -19 lockdown and high competition for vineyard labour from the marijuana industry, organic certification has been put on the back burner for now.
Nevertheless, they continue to practice organic viticulture. You may even find Anthony and family picking the grapes. Thankfully, Mother Nature has stepped up in the 2020 vintage. And while it’s tough work to pick grapes, these are small productions.
Kinero Cellars "Alice" Grenache Blanc 2018 California Grape: White Grenache Region: Willow Creek and Templeton Gap AVA Year: 2018 Alcohol: 14%
Considered one of the leading examples of Grenache blanc in California, this is named after his martini-loving grandmother, Alice. He tells us, she does not like wine, but he still sends her a case anyway. It’s a pity, she really should try a glass! This is a taut and clean white Grenache with summery fresh stone fruit and a lovely honey/honeysuckle finish.
Kinero Cellars "Talley" Chardonnay 2017 Grape: Chardonnay Region: Arroyo Grande Vineyard AVA, California Year: 2017 Alcohol: 12.5%
Even though Arroyo Grande is one of the coolest AVA, the 2017 was a hot and difficult year. Regardless, there is a thrilling sense of poise and place. It can not be anything other than California. The light use of french oak from Tonnellerie Cadus (Louis Jadot cooperage) gives the bright Californian style a modern light-weight frame.
The acidity is very good with fresh grilled salmon. As did The Royal Nonesuch Farm red blend, below.
Kinero Cellars "Rustler" Roussanne 2017 Grape: Roussanne Region: James Berry Vineyard, Paso Robles AVA Year: 2017 Alcohol: 13.5%
Named after midnight cattle thieves, the Rustler is an intriguing wine from one of the best vineyards in the area. It’s the winemaking that really ups the ante for for what can be done with Roussanne: a glorious texture, a mysterious heart of umami, and uncannily toeing the line between being suitable for white and red drinkers.
Royal Nonesuch Farm Red Grape: Grenache, Syrah, Graciano, Clairette Blanc Region: York Mountain AVA, California Year: 2017 Alcohol: 14.8%
The Royal Nonesuch Farm is named after a rowdy play in Huckleberry Finn. Anthony explains, it reminds him not to take himself too seriously.
Well, the wines are serious. There is a good amount of juicy wild raspberry fruit (from partial whole bunch fermentation) to lighten up the darker glimpses of blackberry, black cherry and spicy liquorice. At the same time, there is real concentration, complexity, structure and finesse.
IGTV video from wine tasting.
Wines tasted courtesy of The California Wine Institute.’The California Sommelier Sessions’ is a series of importer-led online wine workshops.
UK supplier is Tiger Vines