PAUL HOBBS, founder of Paul Hobbs Winery and a noted wine consultant, has his hands in many areas of winemaking including his pursuit of growing high-quality malbec, first in Argentina starting in 2001, and now in Cahors, France, where records of the grape date back to the 13th century. Hobbs and Argentine partners Andrea Marchiori and Luis Barraud released their first wines from Viña Cobos in 2001, where Hobbs brought Argentine malbec to a world stage. In 2011, he partnered with fourth-generation French vintner Bertrand Vigouroux to establish Crocus to redefine malbec from Cahors, the grape’s ancestral home in southwest France. See a review of the inaugural release of Crocus L’Atelier below along with words on the 2014 Viña Cobos Felino Malbec.
Crocus L’Atelier Malbec de Cahors France 2012, $28: There’s no confusing this wine’s origin with Argentina — it’s big, tannic and earthy with tart berry notes and a distinct French accent. Hobbs describes the berry taste as “huckleberry pie,” which I’d wager few people have tried, including me. Give the fruit a Google search and you learn it’s sweet-tempered with a degree of tartness, and that’s a good fit for the edge to this wine. It has intense fruit and sturdy acidity, and finishes — as Hobbs describes it — with slate-like minerality. It’s a unique wine experience. Malbec, of course, is one of the five grapes that can be used to make a red Bordeaux wine. Tasting Crocus as a single-varietal malbec reveals the power and depth that is possible. The name Crocus comes from the flowers that blanket the property of Hobbs’ partner at Crocus, Bertrand Vigouroux.
Viña Cobos Felino Malbec Mendoza Argentina 2014, $20: Felino wines are the introductory tier for Viña Cobos and are sourced from a group of growers with select vineyards in Luján de Cuyo and Valle de Uco. This juicy, intense malbec is immediately appealing with firm, sweet tannins; sturdy acidity; and smooth berry flavors with notes of graphite, tobacco, chocolate and vanilla.
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