Who says a vacation can't change your life? When third-generation winemaker Jean Bousquet visited Argentina in 1990, he became so captivated by the rugged and soaring beauty of the Gualtallary Valley in Mendoza that he began uprooting his life in Carcassonne, in the south of France. It took a few years, but in 1997 Bousquet purchased a substantial parcel of land and this French family began a new chapter as Argentine winemakers in dramatic fashion at an altitude of 4,000 ft. in Tupungato - at one of the highest altitude wine vineyards in Mendoza and the world. The locals, and even the real estate broker, thought Bousquet was a bit crazy to believe that wine grapes would thrive in this semi-desert and very cool climate area where no vines were planted. But his naysayers were proven wrong and today Domaine Bousquet is the world's most awarded organic wine producer.
"Our wines are a mix of France and Argentina. Argentinean terroir with a French expression." - Anne Bousquet
Domaine Bousquet is now led by Jean's daughter, Anne Bousquet (CEO, Co-founder & Partner) and her husband Labid Ameri (President, Co-founder & Partner). A trained economist, pragmatic Anne was skeptical of her father's vision of creating world-class wines in the wilds of Mendoza but her father's whim has proven fortuitous and she is now a fully invested and passionate ambassador. Domaine Bousquet wines are available in 50 countries and I recently had the pleasure of tasting her family's wines with Anne while she was visiting New York City.
image courtesy of Domaine Bousquet
I was very impressed by Domaine Bousquet's commitment to sustainable and organic wine production. "We are dedicated to farming organically while improving our land’s biodiversity. We believe that the healthier the vineyard, the better the fruit and of course the wine. In other words, by nourishing the land and treating it with respect, we know that the land will give us back its finest fruits."
Expressive of their terroir, I found the wines of Domaine Bousquet possessed a consistent grace and freshness that lives up to their motto of "naturally elegant wines." Available at very accessible price points, their wines prove that quality wine does not have to cost a fortune and that the hard work of organic production does yield fantastic results in the vineyard and the bottle.
Domaine Bousquet Sparkling Rosé ($13) is a flirty and fresh introduction to their style. At first, the family only produced this charming bubbly for their own consumption but smartly realized that consumers would find it appealing. A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with fresh & lively red fruit & citrus flavors, persistent fine bubbles, and a long finish. Pretty to the eye and playful on the palate.
Domaine Bousquet Chardonnay 2017 ($13) is unoaked but time on the lees adds creamy texture and nuance. Citrus and melon flavors are revved up by a touch of tropical fruit and perky acidity. A pleasant and easygoing sip that doesn't compromise quality.
Of course, no discussion of Argentine wine is complete without acknowledging their signature grape Malbec. Sometimes Malbec is maligned simply because it is so popular but Malbec is not a one-note wine. I still think Mendoza is one of the world's most exciting wine regions because producers are exploring Malbec's potential to express itself in a myriad of ways. Domaine Bousquet Reserve Malbec 2016 ($18) really showcases the beautiful influence of their high-altitude vineyards. Concentrated and intense but still fresh, this is a rich and balanced wine with luscious berry and plum flavors and subtle hints of chocolate and spice.
"We're from Languedoc, we love Syrah," said Anne and their Gaia Red Blend 2015 ($20) adds a healthy share of rich Syrah (45%) to Malbec (50%) and a kiss of Cabernet Sauvignon (5%). A fantastic melding of their French heritage and commitment to Argentina, this wine is a winner. Rich and velvety with silky tannins, Gaia is an impressive tapestry of flavors: dark & ripe fruit, spice, and earth. A well-crafted wine with character and complexity at a jaw-droppingly reasonable price.
image courtesy of Domaine Bousquet
If you're planning a trip to Mendoza (and you should!), Domaine Bousquet welcomes guests for tours & wine tastings. You can also dine with a breathtaking view of the Andes Mountains at their contemporary French bistro Gaia, which showcases local cuisine with select ingredients from their organic garden.