I’m an odd duck. I like to drink red wines during summertime—preferably outdoors at a barbecue—and white wines in the dead of winter. And I often think about The Paring 2017 Red ($25) when I’m about to embark on such an alfresco occasion, when the late afternoon heat is fading, and the smell of coals is in the air.
Maybe it’s because I experienced this wine for the first time last summer at a casual barbecue, with juicy burgers, a crunchy corn salad, and lawn games. Or perhaps it’s simply a breezy, drinkable red.
Whatever it is, I had similar thoughts when I opened a new bottle of it this year. The Paring’s wines stem from a family of two other Santa Barbara producers—JONATA and The Hilt—whose winemaker Matt Dees is a master on the rise. (He worked at Staglin in Napa and the famed Craggy Range in New Zealand, among other credits.) The fruit is sourced primarily from the Ballard Canyon, Sta. Rita Hills, and Santa Maria Valley AVAs, from vineyard blocks that are either too young or don’t fit into the vintage style of JONATA or The Hilt. But the final product is gorgeous all the same.
The 2017 iteration is a Bordeaux-style blend of 50 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 percent Cabernet Franc, 20 percent Merlot and 10 percent Petit Verdot. It’s a malleable red—full without being too heavy, light without being one note—and it’s a bit more full-bodied than I remember, with texture and layers that linger on the palate. The flavors are fresh and bright, with notes of baking spices, chocolate, and tobacco that provide a perfect foil to juicy strawberry and black currant.
It was lovely with simply grilled veggies and pork chops—as well as a harissa chicken salad topped with a lime and cilantro dressing. Later this summer, I plan to pop this wine in the fridge for 10 minutes (it’s hot out there, after all) for a chilled refresher in the heat.