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Argentina's Domaine Bousquet: Cultivating Excellence from an Ideal Environment
By Rebecca Murphy
Dec 20, 2023
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Anne Bousquet, Co-owner of Domaine Bousquet in Argentina, visited Texas a few weeks ago.  I was excited to meet her, because I admire the wines made at their address.  The winery and vineyards are located in the Gualtallary region in the Tupungato district named after the volcanic Mount Tupungato of Mendoza’s Uco Valley, situated close to the border with Chile.  

Her father, Jean Bousquet, was the fourth-generation owner of his family’s vineyards and winery in Carcassonne in the south of France.  In 1990, he took a trip to Argentina and visited this remote area where it was considered too cold and too steep for grape growing, but Bousquet saw great promise.  He sold the family winery and headed to Argentina.  In 1997, he acquired 110 hectares of pristine land and started planting vines.

The vineyards, which are planted on sandy, phylloxera free soil, are certified organic. The high-altitude terrain provides daytime temperatures that are high, for ripening the fruit, while nighttime temperatures are cool, maintaining acidity.

Although Anne grew up in a winemaking family, she chose a different career path.  She has a degree in Economics at Toulouse University and a Master’s in Applied Economics at Saint Cloud State University, MN.  She met her husband-to-be, Labid al Ameri, at Saint Cloud and later they moved to Boston where she worked for the European paper packaging industry, and he became a financial instruments trader with Fidelity.

In the meantime, her father was moving from France to Argentina to create a winery in the Gualtallary Valley.  It is located in Mendoza’s Uco Valley, high in the Tupungato district, named for the volcanic Mount Tupuntgato, close to the border with Chile.  He found climate, high-altitude terrain, and an ideal location in which to cultivate organically grown wines.

In 2020 Anne moved to Brussels for her job.  At the same time her father let her know about the release of the first vintage of Domaine Bousquet and requested assistance with the inventory.  Anne headed to ProWein, an International, professional wine fair in Dusseldorf, Germany, attended by wine buyers from around the world.  Anne’s business acumen inspired her to invest in the first container of Domaine Bousquet and store it in Antwerp. This allowed them to sell a pallet locally rather than shipping a container from Argeninta.

In 2009, Anne, Labid and their two-year-old daughter Eva, moved to Tupungato to help her father with the wine business.  He retired two years later and retained 99 acres for himself and sold the remainder along with the winery to Anne.  Her education has served her well in managing the winery.  She is able to envision the big picture.  She understands that it takes plenty of hands to make a delicious wine and get it to market.  She is also aware of their importance in providing jobs for a poor, isolated community and they are both aware of their obligation of ensuring a healthy environment.  They employ many locals.

They focus their attention to the soil in their vineyards and have certifications for organic agriculture (ECOCERT), regenerative (ROC), and biodynamic (Demeter) practices.  You are probably more familiar with organic and biodynamic agriculture than with regenerative agriculture.  It involves activities to restore soil.  According to the World Economic Forum, “Regenerative agriculture is a way of farming that focuses on soil health.  When soil is healthy, it produces more food and nutrition, stores more carbon, and increases biodiversity.”  

Their family of wines show a common core of freshness and purity.  The grapes for the Domaine Bousquet, Tupungato Valley, Reserve Organic Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 (with 15% Malbec; $15) were macerated at 50°F for 48 hours. They were fermented with selected yeasts for 10 days and an additional 10 days of maceration.  It underwent 100% malolactic fermentation and was aged in French oak for 6 months.  It has a very dark, black ruby color, with intense aromas and flavors of black cherry, blackberry and cassis with vanilla notes, balanced with bright acidity, and a silky mouthfeel.  Pair it with lamb chops or a juicy steak.

They make a charming bubbly rosé, made with 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay.  The Domaine Bousquet, Tupungato Rosé ($13) offers tiny bubbles dancing in a light orange red wine.  Aromas and flavors of cherry, strawberry and citrus fruit are supported by crispy acidity.

Virgen is their label for their USDA-certified, no-sulfites-added, vegan, organic wines.  The 2021 Virgin Tupungato Organic Red Blend contains Malbec (35%), Cabernet Sauvignon (35%), and Cabernet Franc (30%).  The grapes were cold macerated at 50°F for 48 hours to extract color and fermented in stainless steel tanks for ten days.  It is a fresh, juicy, medium bodied wine with black cherry, blackberry fruit flavors, enlivened by crisp acidity and ripe tannins.  Serve it with beef stew or a rich mushroom soup.

If you have not experienced these wines grown in a perfect environment for organically grown grapes, I recommend that you stock your wine cellar, locker or fridge soon.  You won’t be disappointed.       

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