Domaine Bousquet Merlot 2018
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 generous fruit and supple tannins, Merlot is made in a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol, where it is often blended with Cabernet Franc to spectacular result. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly in California’s Napa Valley. Somm Secret—As much as Miles derided the variety in the 2004 film, Sideways, his prized 1961 Château Cheval Blanc is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.