Today’s cellar note brings you two blended wines from Argentine producer Domaine Bousquet. Right off the bat at least two things stand out about these wines, which we received as tasting samples. First they are made with organic grapes and it says so on the label. Yay! Second, Domaine Bousquet has no problem putting white blend and red blend on the label instead of giving them a fancy, proprietary name for a blended wine. They get extra points for both in my book.
Domaine Bousquet is a project started by Jean Bousquet in 1997 with the purchase of undeveloped land in the Gualtallary Valley in the Tupungato district of the Uco Valley. The site has elevation (4000 feet above sea level), low rainfall (due to the rain shadow caused by the Andes Mountains) and well-draining, sandy soils. This combination of conditions allows organic farming methods to succeed in producing ripe fruit with great acidity.
Domaine Bousquet is now owned and managed by Jean Bousquet’s daughter and her husband. Anne Bousquet and Labid Al Ameri continue to invest in both the winery and the region.
2016 Domaine Bousquet Gaia Tupungato White Blend — light golden in the glass with generous aromas of ripe lemons, dry oat hay and stony minerality. Tart pineapple, dry oat hay, and a hint of cedar spice give way to grapefruit on the finish. Grapefruit pith lingers on the finish minus the bitterness. Acidity is bright and juicy, and the wine is almost medium-bodied. The finish is very long. 12.5% abv. Screw cap closure. SRP$18
This white wine is exceedingly complex aromatically and on the palate and the flavor profile tasted unfamiliar to me. This is one of those rare, contemplative wines that keep you sipping and thinking about what you’re tasting. I didn’t look at the blend until after tasting it, then the complexity made sense; 50% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Gris, 15% Sauvignon Blanc.
I suppose the Chardonnay contributes grapefruit, the Pinot Gris stony minerality and the Sauvignon Blanc the dry oat hay aromas and flavors. I can’t say for sure, but what I can say is that this blend is really delicious. Further complexity is gained from aging 40% of the wine in French oak for 6 months. The winemaker is a magician.
2015 Domaine Bousquet Gaia Red Blend — dark ruby in the glass with violet at the edge. Generous plum and ripe dark berry aromas are followed by ripe plum, blackberry and blueberry flavors combined with crushed flower stems, cocoa and a hint of cedar. Tannins are drying and well integrated with the flavors. The body is medium in weight and the finish is medium-long. Cork closure. 14.5% abv. SRP $20
Once again, lots of complexity in this blend of 50% Malbec, 45% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The Malbec flavors predominate and are ripe, rich and pleasing. But not too ripe. Oak is not overdone in this wine either. 10 months aging in French oak tastes just right.
Serve this red blend with grilled skirt steak or tri-tip. It will love any red meat cooked over an open flame.
Both of these wines are complex and delicious. The white blend is especially interesting to me. These wines are a delicious reminder not to judge a wine by its name. Even when labeled as just a humble white blend or red blend, a wine can be delicious.
It is important, though, to note the organic certification of these wines. Organic practices increase biodiversity in the vineyard and do not contribute to the use of pesticides in the vineyard; this protects both vineyard workers and the environment.
The debate might be long and passionate as to whether organic viticulture results in wines more reflective of the land or not; but I believe it can. The bottom line, though, is still the quality of the wine. Both of these organic wines pass the quality test with high marks, and at $20 or less! I’d like to think that Gaia, the Mother Earth goddess of Greek mythology, might smile at seeing her name on the label of these wines.