Sonoma-based winemaker Paul Hobbs has consulted wineries in South America for years, as well as creating some joint ventures there; he is now importing wines more frequently as well. Typically, Hobbs’ red wines are big guys with good fruit and lots of tannins — which is the case with these five, hailing from the Mendoza region of Argentina.
I’ve also snuck another wine into this column that isn’t imported by Hobbs and isn’t even from Argentina — but it does originate from just across the border in Chile, and nicely rounds off our review of six reds from South America.
2011 Cobos "Bramare" Valle de Uco malbec ($39). Absolutely delicious fruit of dark, savory blackberry and black raspberry with some spicy black pepper and lots of good tannins added in. A big wine, but not an overpowering one. This is my Pick of the Litter.
2011 Cobos "Bramare" Luján de Cuyo” malbec ($41). Like the previous wine, this one is unfiltered and unfined, so it comes with a lot of stuffing: big and dense, yet with a lovely stream of creamy fruit — mainly ripe, dark cherries — floating through the middle. Lots of tannins, but great, concentrated fruit.
2012 Cobos "Felino" Mendoza malbec ($18). Very approachable and ready to drink. Good cherry fruit with light hints of balsamic and some savory notes. Long on the palate, with tannins cradling the fruit but not competing with it for our attention.
2012 Riglos "Quinto" Mendoza malbec ($23). Very cherry — both creamy and tangy with a touch of red vermouth flavors. With lots of dusty tannins and good acidity, it’s has food-loving leanness.
2011 Riglos "Las Vivas" Mendoza gran malbec ($29). Sharp, red-fruit aromas matched by tart cherry tastes at the beginning, but finishing with creamy raspberries and hints of mocha and bitter chocolate. Pronounced tannins, so it would be good to decant this one.
2011 Ventisquero "Grey" Maipo carménère ($20) (imported by San Francisco Wine Exchange). A little spicy, weediness in the nose — a pleasant aroma — with green herbal and dense blackberry flavors, both common to the grape variety. This is not a wine for those who like no vegetal notes with their fruit, but I would drink it anytime with a rare strip steak.