Yes, I am predominantly a wine girl (in case you couldn’t tell). But when in the mood for a cocktail, vodka is my go-to hard liquor of choice. To be honest, I’m not as well-versed in vodkas as I am with wines. I only recently discovered Hangar 1 when it was on sale, and with its smooth texture and almost fruity finish, it quickly became my new favorite. And then I realized why — Hangar 1 distills a combination of grapes and grain, so the vodka has a wine-like quality about it. But when Monica Villicana, Re:Find proprietor and wife to chief distiller and co-proprietor Alex Villicana, sent me a bottle of their barrel aged finished vodka, I knew I was about to find my new, new favorite.
After trying Oso Libre 2012 Carnal, a Rhone style red blend, I was over eager to see what Oso Libre could do with a single varietal. Lucky for me the boys over at Oso, Chris and Jeff, sent me their 2012 Zinfandel as well. And I’ll just say straight away here that this second offering from Oso Libre didn’t disappoint — not only did it further my fascination with Zinfandel, but it fueled the fire I call my Passion for Paso.
I know J. Lohr is a big name everyone knows, but I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with the personalities behind J. Lohr at several wine events in the Bay Area. One thing I can attest to is the stand-out personalities behind the bottle — whether in the tasting room, the vineyard, or the sales desk — and the humble, hometown quality of J. Lohr wine. J. Lohr Los Osos Paso Robles Merlot encompasses that personable J. Lohr standard.
About the Wine: I’ve talked about Paso Robles at length and J. Lohr’s Estates in Paso in previous posts….so just the nerdy-dirty details here:
The J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Paso Robles Merlot 2013 is made of 86% Merlot grapes and 14% Malbec grapes harvested from the Paso Robles AVA in San Louis Obispo County, California. The grapes went through whole cluster fermentation in 100% stainless steel tanks before commencing malolactic fermentation. The wine was then aged12 months in American oak barrel (22% new).
Flavor Profile: The color of this wine is the most amazing royal purple. Yes, the color of dark, velvet royalty just exudes from the glass. The smell is just as plush emitting scents of brambly blackberries; soft, fertile earth; and the undeniable essence of baking spices (think nutmeg and unsweetened cocoa here).
Taste-wise, his wine is like a reverse mullet: party in the front business in the back. The foretaste is strong in those dark berry flavors — those blackberries, perhaps a blueberry or two, with a bit of dark cherry added to the mix. But don’t get to comfortable in berry-blend-land, because those spice-filled undertones pave the way to a bold, somewhat tannic, finish. And yet, you’re left with a fun grape-y aftertaste that lingers, if just for a moment, before the tasting comes to a close.
I would say the J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Paso Robles Merlot is quite low in acidity, but medium-high in tannins, making this a full-bodied red wine. But because of that 14% Malbec with its generous fruity notes, the refined use of new oak in the barrel aging, and the whole-cluster tannins that come in to play just at that finish — this is a full-bodied red wine that even a timid red wine drinker can enjoy.
Food Pairing: I highly recommend enjoying J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Paso Robles Merlot with food. The J. Lohr site recommends cheese tortellini or herb-roasted chicken. I would say the tortellini would be a great option if tossed in an herbaceous, thick marinara sauce.
My personal choice would be a good juicy burger, gently coated in an aioli, and served with fresh lettuce and tomato.
My point is, regardless if you’re going meat or veg, you’ll want something to bring out the acidity the wine is lacking as well as amplify the juicy components in the wine. This will balance out with those strong tannins in the finish and leave you wanting yet another sip — for pure tastiness sake.
More Info: I’m obviously a big fan of J. Lohr wines. You can read my J. Lohr reviews here. For more information about J. Lohr, their wines, where to buy, or to purchase directly, please do visit the J. Lhor website. I was able to purchase J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Paso Robles Merlot at CVS (Sale Price: $11.99).
BriscoeBites officially accepts samples as well as conducts on-site interviews. Want to have your wine, winery or tasting room featured? Please visit the Sample Policy page and then Contact Me directly. Cheers!
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.