The Paso Robles wine region gives one a reason to believe. Once a sleepy California coastal area roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles with about 20 wineries, it’s a virtual boomtown today with over 200 wineries. Not that the world has really noticed. And that’s okay. You see, for those who have become somewhat cynical or jaded by the exclusivity and commercialism of Paso’s much more famous northern competitor, Paso represents the spirit of inventiveness and creativity and community that existed before Napa became Napa.
The 2012 OSO LIBRE Volado is a great example of what makes Paso Robles such a place teeming with rich discovery for the wine explorer. Here is a rare white blend of Rhone grape varietals: 50% Viognier, 32% Roussanne and 18% Marsanne. The “V” in the blend brings power and lushness. The “R” gives the wine body, sweetness and roundness and the “M” strength and backbone. Altogether, it’s a classy and aristocratic affair, with elegant aromatics and flavor notes of tropical fruit—mango and passion fruit, especially—as well as peach, apricot and vanilla. There’s also pronounced tannins on the finish, like fumes emanating from diesel (a quality present in many high-end French wines like dry Pouilly-Fumé or Vouvray—you learn to love it). There’s all kinds of things going on in this wine, complementing and contrasting each other—when was the last time you could say that about a medium-priced white wine?—and it takes considerable skill to produce something of great balance and harmony like the Volado blend.
In Paso, there is no room for cynicism. So, step out into the great wide open. And believe again. –J.M.