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.
An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot can be made into a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the best wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol where it is blended with Cabernet Franc. On the Left Bank in the Medoc, it plays a supporting role to Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly from California’s Napa Valley.
Tasting Notes for Merlot
Merlot is a dry, red wine known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry and raspberry. From cool climates, Merlot wines will express earthy and herbal notes, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.
Perfect Food Pairings for Merlot
Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity are a hit with pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.
Sommelier Secrets for Merlot
Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot with Cabernet Franc.