Viña Cobos Cocodrilo Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
An interesting wine from Argentina's Mendoza treasure trove, the Viña Cobos Cocodrilo is
100% Cabernet Sauvignon. I usually crave for and counsel that Cabernet be blended with its
usual Bordeaux modifiers, but in this wine's case, I agree with the direction. The $14 wine is
matured eight months in French and American oak, but only 20% new. It may be a young
wine, but a six hour decant (I shopped in the interim) takes any edge off.
The wine is a true ruby with garnet edges, presenting a little alcoholic heat (the level is 14.7%) on the nose with notes of prune, blackberry and black pepper. Except on the nose initially, the alcohol is not a major theme.
The wine is mainstream dry, with tannins that do double duty with the acidity to give the mouth work, though this is just what this wine needs. The chewy tannins and fine fruit extraction bring an excellent body.
My flavor notes fall into four major categories. The fruit includes ripe cherry, prune, ripe plum, blackberry, blackcurrant, and, most distinctively, a tangy sour plum I consider the wine's primary note. The spice is black pepper. Oak additions include a tobacco note, a cocoa tinge and a whiff of direct toasted oak itself. A final category is a pair of dried mountain herbs: sage and lavender, which take on some of the smokiness of the well-used oak. It's a lot.
The wine has a tasty tang that transcends acidity into the realm of well-developed flavor. To
call the finish long is to understate; that deep fruity plum stays with you until you distract
your mouth with something else. The beauty of this wine is that it gives you a great deal of
fruit without becoming an unsubtle “New World fruit bomb.” If you balance factors like fruit,
extraction, acidity, body and length, the wine works. If you throw the quantification out the
window entirely, the wine still works. There is hence no reason to blend this Cabernet. The
elements you would get from a Merlot or Cabernet Franc, for example, are already in there.
Verdict: Stimulating Fruit
Argentina and Mendoza attract a great deal of international attention, and for good reason. The Argentines keeps raising the wine ante.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman