The seeds of Oso Libre were planted in 1996 when Chris and Linda Behr purchased 90 acres of property. Over the next 11 years, they took what had been undeveloped land and turned it into a vineyard and cattle ranch. On their property, they utilize sustainable farming methods and also embrace renewable energies. Paso Robles has several distinct growing regions. Oso Libre sits in the Adelaida District, which is way out west in Paso, just 10 miles from the Pacific. Their property sits at an elevation of approximately 1,300 feet. I recently tasted through a selection of the family-owned winery’s offerings and found a lot to like. Everything I tasted was undoubtedly Paso – delicious, loaded with solid fruit, obvious curb appeal and reasonably priced for the quality in the bottle. Here’s a look at four wines to reach for at your next dinner.
Oso Libre 2012 Osezno Zinfandel ($38)
All of the fruit came from the La Vista Vineyard in the Adelaida section of Paso Robles. It was aged over 20 months in a combination of new Hungarian (30%) and neutral French (70%) oak. 860 cases were produced. The beautifully engaging nose is loaded with red jam fruit and wisps of vanilla bean. Oodles of fresh, vibrant red fruit and spice flavors dominate the juicy palate. Pepper, hints of cinnamon and continued red fruit flavors are evident on the above average finish. This fruit-driven Zin retains excellent balance and will pair well with a wider array of foods than most Zinfandels.
Oso Libre 2011 Querida Cabernet Sauvignon ($42)
In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon (90%), some Merlot (10%) was also blended in. All of the fruit came from the Abernathy Vineyard in Adelaida. It was aged over 14 months in new Hungarian (30%) and neutral French (30%) oak. 360 cases were produced. Paso is best known for Zinfandel and Rhone varieties. However, there is an increasing number of well-heeled Cabernet’s emerging, and this is one of them. Juicy black and red fruit aromas leap from the nose here along with bits of savory herbs. Raspberry and cherry flavors are evident on the palate, which has good depth. Bits of earth, spice and more appear on the solid finish. This Cabernet has racy acid and approachable tannins. Drink it over the next five years. Pair it with red meat for best results.
Oso Libre 2012 Nativo Estate Primitivo ($45)
All of the fruit (100% Prinitivo) came from their Adelaida Estate. Aging was accomplished over 20 months in a combination of new Hungarian (30%) and neutral French (70%) oak. 415 cases were produced. This Italian clone of Zinfandel has made increasing inroads in California vineyards over the last decade or so. Booming, fresh red fruit aromas dominate the nose here along with a ton of spice notes. Sweet, red fruit flavors continue through the palate with bits of black raspberry poking through. Minerals, red earth, hints of black teas and a dusting of cocoa are all present on the above average finish. If you’re looking for a wine to pair with an Italian Sunday supper of pasta with red sauce and all the classic accompaniments, this is the one.
Oso Libre 2012 Carnal Red Rhone Blend ($46)
This offering is a blend of Grenache (43%), Petite Sirah (32%) and Syrah (25%). The fruit was sourced at three different vineyard sites. Aging took place over 20 months in New French (20%), new Hungarian (10%) and neutral French (70%) oak. 938 cases were produced. Blackberry, violet and dark plum aromas abound on the nose. The palate is stuffed with dried black and red fruit flavors as well as copious spice notes. Bits of smoked brisket, savory herbs and sour black cherry are evident on the long, lusty finish. This will pair remarkably well with robust, full-favored foods.