Interestingly, I first met Domaine Bousquet’s Anne Bousquet the same day that I met my partner Shannon… and tasted with Domaine Bousquet again online just days before our daughter Gianna was born. So I seem to have some sort of strange, cosmic, family connection with this Argentine wine mainstay.
I suppose that I am hereby honor-bound to taste with them once a year from this point, with some sort of Star Wars Gungan life-debt kind of thing. Fine by me, because these guys keep managing to pull off very tasty, crowd-pleasing juice for what feels like very suppressed prices.
For this go-round, I was invite to another online taste-through of Domaine Bousquet‘s recent releases co-owner Anne Bousquet, and Lead Winemaker Rodrigo Serrano. Bousquet, according to them, is now Argentina’s only 100% organic producer, with over 640 estate acres that are all certified organic (they’ve been playing in the organic space for the better part of a quarter of a century). They now have wines available in more than 60 countries, and they account for 65% of all organic Argentine wine exports. You could conservatively call them a success story.
Their next focus (aside from the 25-some-odd different labels that they offer) is water; as in, water conservation initiatives. Thanks to global warming, their estate has less and less snow-melt available from the Andes, and therefore less water available for irrigation (an essential element for growing vines in the hot and dry Argentine, well, elements).
For now, the story is that there isn’t really a story: these guys are incredibly consistent, offering a slow and steady upward increment of quality releases for prices that kind of defy belief in some cases…
A Charmat method bubbly made from hand-harvested Pinot Noir (75%) and Chardonnay, sporting just over 8 g/l RS. Serrano follows Anne’s father’s “Rule of 9”: 9% abv base wine with ~9 g/l of acidity, and a secondary fermentation to ~9 g/l RS. It works. This smells creamy, with hints of rose petal giving way to sweet strawberry, ripe raspberry, and some cherry. Very good freshness in the mouth, delivering balanced, uncomplicated red fruit pleasure with a nicely understated mousse that punches above its weight class in terms of what they’re asking per bottle.
I know that this category (along with no-alcohol wine) is all the rage at the moment, but I am usually skeptical of this sort of thing. Thankfully, here’s an offering that proves me wrong. A mere 75 calories per 5oz serving, but still tasty and offering an experience that absolutely feels like “real” wine. According to Serrano and Bousquet, the way to achieve that it without de-alcoholizing it is early picking, and designing it from the ground up as a low alcohol wine (9% abv with >2 g/l RS). This one’s not easy to make due to it also being under USDA Organic guidelines. Their first two attempts essentially ruined a nice base wine according to Serrano. For attempt number three, they went with multiple harvests from targeted vineyards without using any machines to reduce the alcohol. There’s good intensity of peachy fruit on the nose, along with some blossom aromas. The mouthfeel is light as you’d expect, lemony, and very fresh. Simple, tasty, and it’s just hard to imagine a dry, low abv white being done much better right now.
A roughly equal, non-vintage blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc, this red is USDA certified organic and vegan, with no sulfites added. No oak is added, either. This is fresh, pure, and to-the-point, with redcurrant and plum fruitiness, some game notes, and an easy-going attitude. A good pick for burgers and BBQ, or warm weather outside activities in general.
A limited edition red made via carbonic maceration (like in Beaujolais, hence the name). Did this really need to be done? Apparently, yeah, it did. Lots of violets, candied red and blue fruit action, and tea leaf notes greet you at first sniff. In the mouth, it’s a bit of a head fake—there’s a decent amount of heat and power here that isn’t suggested by that Beaujolais-like nose. While I personally might not be convinced about the marriage between carbonic maceration and 14.5% abv, I can certainly see a lot of people happily pounding slightly chilled glasses of this.
Pinot Noir and Uco Valley probably don’t seem like a natural combo, but Bousquet’s sandy loam and limestone soils convinced them that they give it a go. “It took us years to get to a good Pinot Noir,” Anne noted. “If you want to know what working under pressure is, try making a Pinot Noir for Anne,” Rodrigo added. This PN is restrained, soft, and voluptuous. The deep, juicy red berry flavors are a good foundation for the slight oak and baking spice notes. I mean, you know this is not a cool climate PN, but it’s got enough balance and poise to match its palate heft.
Topped up with 15% Malbec, there’s an immediate juiciness on the nose of this Cab, with lots of ripe plum and black fruits jumping about and vying for attention. Hints of dried herbs, violet, cedar, and pencil lead are in the background, being much quieter. The palate is black fruit city, with a nice line of minerality. The structure is muscular and firm, and you’re going to get a couple of good years out of it if you lay it down and let it settle its nerves a bit.