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Vina Cobos Felino Mendoza Malbec 2018 £14.95
VINA COBOS FELINO MENDOZA MALBEC
In 1989, Paul Hobbs visited Mendoza for the first time. Driving over the Andes from Chile with his longstanding friend Jorge Catena, brother of the famous Nicolas Catena, he fell in love with the place, the people, but also with the potential to make great wine. He began to work with the Catenas, firstly experimenting with wild ferments for Chardonnay and then with the variety that would become Argentina's calling card - Malbec. His first 10 barrel vintage of Malbec persuaded not only the Catenas but also the American press of the potential with this grape. Paul established his own winery, Vina Cobos, in 1998 and, over 20 years later, Paul continues to push viticultural and winemaking boundaries to the max. Concentrating on the Valle de Uco, widely regarded as the highest quality region, Paul is the driving force for some of the most impressive wines in the country.
From vineyard sites in Luján de Cuyo, Maipu and Valle de Uco at altitudes of 2300 to 3835 feet above sea level. The diurnal temperature variations, long growing season and altitude give a tremendous purity of fruit. These sites are semi-desert and irrigation is essential. Yields are limited to around 1.33 to 4.68 tons per hectare.
Fermentation is in 8 and 17-ton closed-top stainless steel tanks. There is a 2-3 day period of cold maceration and 14 days total maceration followed by a 3-month malolactic fermentation in barrel and a period of 9 months oak ageing in French and American Oak of which a small percentage is new.
Violet red with black tones. An attractive nose with aromas of fresh black fruits and prunes. The palate displays good concentration, balance and sweet yet supple tannins. A beautiful accompaniment to any meal, but particularly well with hearty casseroles and red meat.
The Wine Advocate
"I also tasted the just-bottled 2017 Felino Malbec, of which a whopping 651,000 bottles have been produced. They increased the percentage of French oak and reduced the use of American oak a bit, and the wood seems better integrated, neatly folded into the fruit. It felt a little closed (it was just bottled), and I sensed the difference between the cooler 2016 and the riper 2017, but the wine didn't show any excess and felt very balanced and harmonious. At the same time, they are also changing the image, with a cleaner, easier to read label that also reflects the character of the wine. It has very fine tannins and a great mouthfeel. Amazing quality for the volume. It slowly opened up in the glass and didn't stop to grow. In the long run, I think this will be even better than the 2016."
I met with Cobo's new winemaker Andrés Vignoni and Paul Hobbs's daughter, Agustina, to taste the new collection of wines. I sensed a further change in the path of freshness and less oak in the wines that I liked. Vignoni is very young, only 30, and has new ideas to update the wines in a style that I liked. The wines produced from owned or long-term leased vineyards are now labelled "estate," and the ones from purchased grapes have the word "vineyard" in the name.