Between the Rhone Rangers Seminar, the Paso Robles Lecture and Grande Tasting, and even my evening with the Diablo Taster’s Guild where I was able to spend one-on-one time with Bodegas Paso Robles — I’ve been making great connections with winemakers from Paso Robles and establishing, what I call, a Passion for Paso. But still, it was a great surprise to me when one #WineWednesday (seriously), a package from Jeff Freeland and Chris Behr of Oso Libre wines showed up at my door.

Oso Libre is a sustainable vineyard, winemaking, and ranching facility located in the heart of Paso Robles. They are Sustainability in Practice (SIP) Certified*, which means they treat their produce, livestock and employees with a high standard of care. I’ll raise a glass to that.

About the Wine: Oso Libre Carnal 2012 is a Rhone-style red blend. On the fact sheet they’ve called it a GSM which, for those of you who don’t know, is a combination Grenache, Syrah, and Mouvédre. However, the Oso Libre Carnal 2012 is a GPS, consisting of 43% Grenache, 32% Petite Syrah, and 25% Syrah. I’m going to be honest, I’m not sure that I’ve ever had this specific blend before.

According the Oso Libre, the grapes came from 3 separate vineyards, vineyards that specially suited each of these grapes temperamental growing requirements. And it seems that the key factor for this wine was keeping things cool: the grapes were harvested in the damp fog of early mornings in October; musts were crushed and cold soaked for 2 or more days; after crush, the must was kept cool during fermentation. Undeniably (and you’ll agree with me when you get to the tasting notes below) this was to preserve the natural, bursting flavors of the grapes.

The wine was aged for 20 months in oak (20% new French, 10% Hungarian, 70% neutral French). And, in true Rhone-style form, the Grenache, Petite Syrah, and Syrah, were all aged separately and blended together just before bottling.

14.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: Yum.

Oh wait, you want more? Ok. First of all, let’s talk about how gorgeous this wine is in the glass. It’s an elegant, but confident shade of burgundy. I mean, can a wine look smooth? Because this one did. And you’re really going to have to stop yourself to admire the beauty of the wine because the aromas are so up-lifting. It’s like every beautiful berry you could imagine picked straight off the bush or tree — I’m talking everything from the lightest and brightest of raspberries, to the dark tartness of a bing cherry. And yet, there’s a calmness — often times, when a wine exudes such vibrant fruit aromas, you can also get that sting of acidity in the nose. Not so here. Here, there’s a smoothness to those aromas — think mixed berry pie!

Ok, looks, smell…taste? Does NOT disappoint. I shouldn’t even use the word disappoint because the moment I sipped my first sip, I fell in love. I fell in love with the wine, and I fell in love with life. I mean, the world we live in can create such art and here it is, in my glass, on my lips, seeping into my soul.

Yes, it’s that taste of a well-balanced berry pie. You have the bright fruit flavors — cranberry and raspberry to be sure —  that would be the Grenache speaking. But you don’t forget where those fruits came from — there’s a subtle background flavor of earthiness, like a fresh, damp soil after a tropical rain — that would be the Petite Sirah speaking to you. And yet it comes back to that fruit in the end — darker this time with essence of blackberries and black cherry. And this is all balanced with the calming smoothness of the oak. But, no, the wine is not oak-y — you don’t get that funky woodsy taste, yet there’s enough to keep that acid in check. In fact, I would say that this wine is quite low in acidity. The mouthfeel is round, soft, engaging. The finish clean and modestly understated — which honestly just leaves you wanting more.

Food Pairing: Recommending pairings from the winery include wild boar, rabbit, venison, or duck — bold, gamey meets. I personally don’t have access to such proteins, but found my pairing to be more than adequate. I enjoyed the Oso Libre Carnal 2012 with (my favorite red meat) filet mignon cooked medium rare topped with a red wine reduction sauce. I served this on a bed of wilted greens (swiss chard seasoned with burnt garlic and olive oil), alongside roasted mini potatoes (seasoned with fresh rosemary and thyme).

Do enjoy this wine with a hearty meat. Do have a red wine sauce or au jus on the plate. Do have some kind of green to enhance the earthiness. And do have some softness on the plate (puree, mash, or very well done potato) to truly appreciate the overall softness of the wine.

More Info: I had never heard of Oso Libre until they sent me this sample — but they are a winery to keep on your radar to be sure. Please visit the Oso Libre website to find out more about their wines, wine club, and their sustainability practices. They also seem to throw some super fun events. If I’m ever in the area, I’ll be sure to visit.

For more Rhone-style recommendations, please check out a few other reviews here.

As I mentioned, I did receive the Oso Libre Carnal 2012 as a sample, but you can visit their website to purchase any of their wines directly. I’m looking forward to my next Oso Libre experience, which is their 2012 Osenzo Zinfandel.

*To find out how to become a SIP Certified winery or to find available SIP Certified wines for purchase, please visit http://www.sipcertified.org/.


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