Napa Valley is one of the few New-World regions with the luxury problem that plagues so many of Europe's top production regions: space. In Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Barolo, Montalcino and Bolgheri, production is limited by the geographical constraints of the landscape and the strict AOC/DOC/DOCG incentives controlling them. In the vast Californian plains, this isn't normally a problem: Mendocino, Central Coast, Lodi and the like have grapes to spare, vineyards for sale and, whilst water might be few and far between, the purchasing of land is both easy and, compared to Europe's most-beloved production regions, relatively cheap too. Only Napa in California breaks this rule: the average bottle of Napa is much higher than the Californian average and, when you consider that Napa counts for less than 10% of US wine production and around a quarter of wine revenue, you get a fairly accurate picture of the situation here, rising prices due to high demand in arguably one of the world's finest wine production regions.
Whereas many top Napa producers looked beyond this central Californian AVA, setting their sights on the above-mentioned regions of California, at least one chose its base overseas - a few thousand kilometers South on the Pan-American Highway: Argentina - more precisely Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza in the foothills of the mighty Andes.
Paul Hobbs is arguably one of the finest winemakers alive today. Not only are his top, single-vineyard Cabernets some of Napa Valleys' finest but his single-varietal wines sourced from Napa and Sonoma are some of the best-priced, most reliable wines on the market. Those who have been lucky enough to sample the latest few vintages of the (Beckstoffer) Dr. Crane and (Beckstoffer) To Kalon Cabernet Sauvignons know that they belong in the international red wine Hall of Fame - top wines from historic vintages in one of the world's best production regions. Don't just beleive me: google what the top critics have to say.
Let's face it though: these aren't wines for every day: I certainly don't have the cash to enjoy 150-300€ wines every day and thankfully there are some parts of the world where it is possible to make great wine for a great deal less: Mendoza for example. The rise and rise of Mendoza is unprecedented: no other region is improving in quality as quickly as Mendoza and, unlike the top regions in France, Spain, Italy, Australia and the USA, the wines remain entirely affordable....unless you wish for something more expensive and, certainly these days at least, that isn't hard anymore in South America. One of Argentina's pioneers: Catena Zapata also operates from Mendoza and some of its reds, particularly the Malbecs, often carry three figure price-tags. Viña Cobos, the name of Hobbs' operation in Argentina also producers high-end, luxury wines and yet the series is remarkably good throughout, from the entry-level Felino wines right through to the flagship "Cobos" sourced entirely from the best parcels of the fabulous Marchiori vineyard.
Below are tasting notes of a number of wines from Viña Cobos.
Getting hold of these wines where you live.