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Paul Hobbs, Argentina

by Tom Cannavan, 11/08

This is part II of a two-part profile of winemaker Paul Hobbs, and his twin estates, Paul Hobbs in California and Viña Cobos in Argentina. See also part I - Paul Hobbs, California.

Viña Cobos

Thousands of miles south of Paul Hobbs' HQ in Sebastopol in California's Sonoma Valley, another boutique winery operation is dedicated to vineyard-specific wines, especially Malbec, from vineyards in the Perdriel district of Mendoza.

The Cobos winery may be new, but the vines are not. The top vineyard, Marchiori, is 60- to 80-years-old, its Malbec vines producing fruit for the top cuvées. Viña Cobos was founded in 1999, a partnership between Paul Hobbs, vineyard manager Andrea Marchiori (daughter of the vineyard's original owner) and Luis Barraud, of French extraction and oenologist at Cobos.

   The wine range is composed of three tiers, beginning with Felino, a range of white and red wines, selling to the trade in the UK at a modest £105 per dozen. The middle tier is Bramare, a much more serious set of wines - Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec - from the estate's own Marchiori vineyard, but from younger, yet well-established, blocks of vines. Those retail for between £125 per 6 for the Chardonnay, to £229 per 6 for the Malbec. At the top of the tree, Cobos Malbec and Cobos uNico, a blend of Cabernet and Malbec, from the oldest blocks of the Marchiori. uNico is named after Nico Marchiori (left), patriarch of the owning family. These are expensive wines, with only 90 and 54 bottles coming to this country respectively, for £437 and £540 per 6.

These tasting notes are from the launch of the wines by Paul and his new UK distributor, Alliance Wines, in November 2008. The wines will not be in the UK until 2009, but contact To see worldwide stockists of Cobos wines see

the wines

Viña Cobos Felino Chardonnay 2007
Nicely nutty, with orange and lemon fruit. The palate has huge fruit sweetness, but the structure is good, with crisp acidity and perhaps just a little heat in the finish. 88/100

Viña Cobos Felino Malbec 2007
A nutty character and ripe red and black fruit. A certain dark, chocolaty richness, with good fruit and good tannins, and a lively acid structure. Very good quality and silky texture. 89/100

Viña Cobos Felino Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Nicely tight black fruit with a touch of black olive and savoury character. The palate has a nice, tight, blue-black quality to the fruit, with a certain richness, but stays quite lean and focused on the palate. 89/100

Viña Cobos Bramare Malbec 2006
Much more plush and deeply velvety than the Felino, with a glossy ripeness and depth of black fruit and chocolate. The palate has a silky depth too, with a lovely ripe character and coffee and chocolate balanced by tight tannins and good acidity. Long. 92/100

Viña Cobos Bramare Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Very tight, muscular nose, with tight, ripe fruit and a certain lean, tight structure. The palate has a fine, clean but very ripe black fruit sweetness, but there's a nice bittersweet black chocolate and firm tannins that keep this focused and pure into the finish. 91/100

Viña Cobos Bramare Malbec Marchiori 2005
This has delightful floral and pencil-shaving notes that immediately suggest light and shade. The fruit is very fine. On the palate this retains that crisp, light, tight and focused structure. The palate has a real juicy life and energy which I love. 94/100

Viña Cobos Bramare Cabernet Sauvignon Marchiori 2005
Quite plush, with a certain glossy depth to blackcurrant fruit. A certain smoky quality and nice little notes of leather and spice. The palate is powerful and very linear, with a great focus and ripeness, and a long, balanced finish. 93/100

Viña Cobos Malbec 2005
Quite tight, slightly smoky, with a chocolate and dark blueberry and blackcurrant fruit. The palate has lots of cedary, tight, smooth but focused and linear black fruit. This wine is all about laser-like, focused fruit character, with great length and refinement. 95/100

Viña Cobos uNico 2005
63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Malbec. A very tight and refined, classic cedar and pencil-shaving nose. The fruit is extremely tight and glossy, but it retains that sinew and muscle, the taut, glossy, but rich black fruit and well-integrated oak playing against fine, supple tannins and very good acidity into a long finish. 94/100

go to part I - Paul Hobbs, California.

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