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One Brilliant Bottle

organic/biodynamic/natural wines in Vinland

Domaine Jean Bousquet Malbec

Argentina (Mendoza)


Argentinians consume more beef than any other people in the world, more than twice as much per capita as the average resident of my home and native land. I personally limit my intake of red meat, so I likely consume a quarter or less of what the average Argentinian does. Yet there are days when the urge for a good hamburger (yes, there is one beneath that halo of onion), or a nicely grilled steak is too much to resist. The carnivore in me steps up to the table. And what better wine to pair either of them with than a good malbec from Argentina.

Jean Bousquet makes some of the best. I’ve heard great things about his Malbec Reserva, but today I’m settling in with a bottle of his 2007 basic Malbec. There is nothing second rate about it.

Domaine Jean Bousquet Melbec 2007

Black red in the glass, with potent aromas of smoky, spicy black fruit. The wine is rich and intense, a strong counterpoint to red meat. There’s a plummy, flavourful ripeness. Meaty in itself and not particularly subtle, but neither is it overweight. Nicely balanced with smooth tannins. Its six months in new oak doesn’t jeopardize the taste.  It maintains a very good length.   $

A third-generation winemaker, Jean Bousquet arrived in Argentina from Carcassonne in southern France in the 1990s with the express purpose of searching out exceptional terroir to start a new winery. He found it 1200 metres above sea level, at the foothills of the Andes, in Tupungato, western Mendoza. He wanted to bring the vast experience of French winemaking to the region, which was just beginning to turn heads world-wide with its wine production.

Today Bousquet works 110 hectares, and has established himself as one of the larger producers in Mendoza. He turned to organic production to take full advantage of the natural life forces in the soil. Deeper roots with more mineral absorption leads to strong colour, richer fruit character, an overall better balance of acidity and sugar. Of course, the higher elevations of Mendoza also work to great advantage, offering hot days and cool, restorative nights.

Malbec is Argentina’s prime grape. In fact it can often outclass the malbecs in France, where it originated. It drinks very well when young, and so is a strong fit with today’s wine buyers, who generally don’t have the patience for long-term cellaring. For an easy-going, approachable, yet refined drinking experience, at an exceptional price point, the malbec of Domaine Jean Bousquet is a definite winner. Bring on the meat and potatoes.


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