Domaine Bousquet Gaia Red Blend 2013
A 1990 vacation in Argentina was all it took. For third-generation winemaker Jean Bousquet, it was love at first sight. The object of the Frenchman’s desire: the Gualtallary Valley, a scenic, remote, arid terrain high in the Tupungato district of the Uco Valley in Argentina’s Mendoza region, close to the border with Chile. Here, where the condors fly and not a vine in sight, Bousquet discovered his dream terroir, an ideal location in which to nurture organically-grown wines.
With altitudes ranging up to 5,249 feet, Gualtallary occupies the highest extremes of Mendoza’s viticultural limits. Fast-forward to the present and wine cognoscenti recognize it as the source of some of Mendoza’s finest wines. Back then, it was virgin territory: tracts of semi-desert, nothing planted, no water above ground, no electricity and a single dirt track by way of access. Locals dismissed the area as too cold for growing grapes. Bousquet, on the other hand, reckoned he’d found the perfect blend between his French homeland and the New World (sunny, with high natural acidity and a potential for relatively fruit-forward wines).
Bousquet’s daughter, economist Anne Bousquet, and her husband Labid Al Ameri, a successful trader with Fidelity in Boston, found themselves increasingly drawn to the cause, including the opportunity it offered to put their shared philosophy on sustainability into effect. After a 2002 trip to Argentina, the couple began to invest in Domaine Bousquet. In 2005, Al Ameri joined his father-in-law full time, helping with the construction of the winery. Anne continued her work as an economist, before joining the company in 2008. In 2009, the couple moved to Tupungato full-time, assuming full ownership of Domaine Bousquet in 2011.
With a winning combination of cool weather, high elevation and well-draining alluvial soils, it is no surprise that Mendoza’s Uco Valley is one of the most exciting up-and-coming wine regions in Argentina. Healthy, easy-to-manage vines produce low yields of high-quality fruit, which in turn create flavorful, full-bodied wines with generous acidity.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.