May 21, 2008

Vina Cobos Malbec "El Felino" 2006

Malbec / 2006
$15-$20 / 91 Points

Periodically I go to a local wine store searching for the Holy Grail. You know, wine that tastes great and most importantly, does not exhaust your budget. I was in a DC wine store a few weeks back and picked up a half case of wines I never tried. I got a few Malbecs, a few Spanish blends, some primitivo and a few Petite Chateau Bordeaux. I tried the Malbec last night, and was blown away.

The best part of reviewing a wine is finding out more about a wine you love. Like the layers of flavour a good wine will offer, it often also offers a good story. It always seems to be a person of great passion that is making the wine. Many times the story has a twist.

I started researching Vina Cobos this week and was amazed to see the name of a winemaker that is high on my favorite list. Paul Hobbs has been making fabulous wine from the North Coast of California for many years. All of his wines are highly rated, and many of his wines already have a home in my cellar. Why his association with this winery is not more clearly advertised is a mystery. This would have been an immediate purchase for me if I know Paul was involved. Live and learn.

Paul went down to Argentina in 1988 to assist Nicholas Catena in making Chardonnay. He consulted for 10 years, and left his position to open his own winery. Vina Cobos produced its first wine in 1998. Since then Paul has not looked back. He built a winery on site in 2005. This wine has been getting some rave reviews by some top reviewers ever since.

The nose on this wine is incredibly rich. It took me a minute to actually sort out what I was detecting in the nose. Black Cherry, Dark Berry, and spice really saturates your senses. The dark purple wine is full bodied and rich. Great mouth feel is important to me, and this wine delivers. Big, chewy with black berry fruit and plum notes. The finish extends a long way with a touch of oak. Hobbs ages this in a mix of French and American oak. 21% of the barrels are new, which causes the oak nuance on the finish.

The wine is smooth, but not without good balanced tannins that will allow this one to lay down for a bit. I am very curious to taste this a few years down the line. I think it will actually improve for a few years in bottle. The tannins will integrate and the wine will become softer. There is enough fruit in this beauty to really shine once the tannins settle.

This wine was released at $17.00. For this price, it is a tremendous value. If you have not tried Malbec from Argentina, this is the wine to cut your teeth on. The $17investment won't break the bank, and you might find this to be a new favorite. With Paul Hobbs at the helm, this wine will sail right into your favorites list.

I found this wine in DC at Calvert Woodley for $19. On line buyers can go to and buy this beauty for $14.95. With Paul Hobbs wines from California selling upwards of $75, this is a great deal.


  1. Gerry, Great post. I enjoy the way you bring the people behind the wine into awareness. Sounds like a great wine to test for myself.
    Wine Oaf

  2. WineOaf, Thanks so much for the comment. I think we have to truly love wine to be able to write about it. Those that write without the passion, do not instill the same passion in the readers. I want folks to be excited about the wines I like. I know I am. Thanks for the comment. Please visit often! Gerry WineGent


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