Tupungato is a new, fashionable, hot wine region 60 miles outside of Mendoza in the Uco Valley. In recent years winemakers have been making huge investments in Tupungato to take advantage of the sky high altitude. The foothills of the Andes in Tupungato has attracted investments from some prominent names like Michel Rolland, Paul Hobbs and Masi to name just a few. Twenty years ago, before all the big names, it was Jean Bousquet that had the vision to plant vines in Gualtallary Valley in the Tupungato district near the Chile border of Argentina. Though not the first, Jean was one of the early pioneers of Tupungato, at a time when it was still virgin land and not a vine in site, no electricity, no water and only a single dirt road. Locals had dismissed the area as too cold to grow agriculture. It was Jean Bousquet’s vision, instinct, determination and foresight that drew him to the remote unchartered territory of Tupungato.
Recently I had the honor to meet with the CEO and Co-Owner of Domaine Bousquet, Anne Bousquet in New York City. Anne shared the story of her father and his determination to make Domaine Bousquet a world renowned winery. Jean Bousquet was a third generation winemaker from Carcassonne in southern France, producing prestigious wines. On a trip to Argentina in the early 1990’s, Jean Bousquet became enamoured with the land, the altitude and the terroir of Gualtallary and bought close to a 1000 acres of land in 1998. Domaine Bousquet was untouched land at an altitude of 4000 feet, the highest vineyard in Mendoza and the world. At the foothill of the Andes, the region has low humidity, lots of sun, wide temperature ranges, and varied soils all ideal conditions to make wines that are elegant and balanced. The biggest challenge facing Jean Bousquet when he first purchased the land was water, and so Jean’s first task was to build a well, he dug deep down to 495 feet, which took almost two years. Soon after he started planting vines and in 2005 released his first vintage.
Anne Bousquet grew up in a winemaking family and had always had hands on experience in winemaking from the young age of 10. She later went on to study abroad and become an Economist. It was during her studies at Saint Cloud State University that she met her husband Labid al Ameri. In 2009 Anne and Labid moved to Tupungato and two years later Jean retired.
Anne and Labid carried on their father’s tradition to cultivate organically grown wines and today Domaine Bousquet is the leader in organic exports in Argentina. Labid firmly believes in the organic philosophy and says, “You cannot force a plant to produce more than it can.” Their vines have no pesticides, no chemicals, and no fertilizers. They only use natural compost. Anne and Labid feel the land has given them so much, that they want to be stewards of the land and also the community. Anne says the human factor in wine making is very important to them, thus they give back to the community that has helped them grow. To support the community, they have built roads, supported the schools, and sponsor local sporting events. Tupungato has grown through their investments. Once where there was nothing, now stands a community with 3 grocery stores, schools and restaurants. This has been the most rewarding to Anne.
Domaine Bousquet is bringing together the elegance of french winemaking traditions with the soils and terroir of Argentina to make wonderful naturally elegant wines. The wines of Domaine Bousquet are organically grown in a cool climate at high altitudes, resulting in wines that are fresh, elegant, and concentrated with ripe fruit and acidity. In a short span of twenty years, with determination and vision Domaine Bousquet is making prestigious wines, that have won many accolades and awards.
Domaine Bousquet Sparkling Rose Brut $13
This was a surprisingly wonderful wine made with 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay. This sparkling rose had delicate persistent bubbles with very good acidity and complexity, almost making you feel as though it was made in the traditional method, but in actuality secondary fermentation is done in the tank. The sparkling rose was fresh and light with notes of strawberries, peaches, and apples. A tremendous value for $13.
Domaine Bousquet Grande Reserve Malbec 2015 $25
This is a classic Argentinian Malbec blended with a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. The wine is a deep intense violet color, and has captivating notes of dark fruit, black pepper and chocolate. The wine is wonderfully balanced with nice structure and firm tannins.
Domaine Bousquet Gaia Red Blend 2015 $20
The Gaia Red Blend was a stunning wine. Anne said being from Languedoc they had to have Syrah in their vineyards. Gaia in ancient Greek is the Earth Goddess, thus in honor of their organic vineyards, Anne wanted to name this wine Gaia. Anne designed the label herself, giving the face a neutral gender and the hair is a blend of nature with flowers, fruits and birds. The wine is 50% Malbec, 45% Syrah and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The high altitude cool climate terroir gives the wine fresh fruit, intense flavors and nice acidity. It has an intense deep ruby red color. This elegant blend had notes of blackberries, currant, spice and vanilla and soft tannins. Domaine Bousquet has the most vines dedicated to Syrah than anyone else in Mendoza.