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).
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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.
A big bold red blend crafted with elegance and finesse. That’s the 2014 Leverage Trajectory GSM Red Blend. Yes, it packs a lot of flavor, and those flavors are so well-balanced, even the timid sipper will find enjoyment in this blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mouvédre.
Trajectory is the flagship wine of Leverage Wines — a boutique, artisan winery from the heart of Paso Robles. No you won’t find this wine, or any Leverage wine, in stores or restaurants, but I tell you as a regular consumer of those readily available Safeway, BevMo, Coscto, TJ, WF wines…this is a boutique winery worth seeking out. And this Trajectory GSM red blend is a peak example of what these boys can do.
I was at the Paso Robles seminar and grande tasting event in Oakland awhile back and stopped by the J.Lohr tasting table. I can’t help it. I know they’re a big name brand, but they feel simultaneously local. Maybe its because their Bay Area tasting room is literally around the corner from my house. Maybe it’s because I see them at every Wine Walk up and down the Penninsula. Or maybe it’s because every time I stop by their tasting room, tasting table, etc, I’m greeted with a warm, friendly face willing to talk to me at length about any and all of their wines — from Safeway finds to “members only” selections.
So I’m at this Paso Robles event, and I’m talking to Mark Hess, a J. Lohr Regional Manager, and we’re going through the tasting flight when we get to the Syrah. Now this is one that is available to the public, but for some reason it’s hard for me to find — not always available at Safeway, I sometimes have to go to a local market, Zonattos, just to find this Syrah-treat. Mark and I are sipping, and talking, and my mind always goes to “what food would go with this.” And as we discuss this topic, I get hungry. So, the following weekend, I buy this wine and whip up, what I think, is the perfect food pairing.