Tupungato is the northern-most area of the Uco Valley, itself a sub-region of Argentina’s well-known Mendoza appellation. Vineyards here, lying in the foothills of the immense Tupungato volcano, average 4,200 feet above sea-level. Located in the volcano’s rain shadow, this grape-growing area is arid and chilly, especially at night, when the diurnal swing extends its reach. The soil is stony, alluvial and well-drained. Drip irrigation is employed in most vineyards, drawing on pure Andean water sources.

Our pair of wines today comes from Domaine Bousquet, owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Anne Bousquet and Labid Al Ameri. Anne Bousquet’s father, Jean, sold all his property, including the family winery near Carcassonne, in order to buy, in 1998, against prevailing wisdom, about 1,000 acres in the desolate region. Domaine Bousquet is farmed on sustainable and organic principles, a philosophy that extends to the surrounding infrastructure of access roads, housing for workers, micro-loans for education and other benefits.

These wines were samples for review.
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The Domaine Bousquet Gaia Tupungato White Blend 2016, Mendoza, is a combination of 50 percent chardonnay, 35 percent pinot gris and 15 percent sauvignon blanc; 40 percent of the wine aged six months in French oak barrels. The color is medium yellow-gold; winsome aromas of pear and quince, with notes of bee’s-wax and peach, heather and hawthorn draw you in, while a sleek, silky texture is animated by bright acidity and a crystalline element of limestone minerality; the wine is quite dry yet emboldened by a certain honeyed aspect that encompasses lightly caramelized mango and grapefruit. The finish brings in delicate herbal and saline qualities. 12.5 percent alcohol. A lovely effort, for drinking through 2020. Excellent. About $18, representing Good Value.
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The blend of the dark ruby-hued Domaine Bousquet Gaia Tupungato Red Blend 2015, Mendoza, is 50 percent malbec, 45 percent syran and five percent cabernet sauvignon; the wine aged 10 months in French oak barrels. It’s a robust and rustic red wine, perfectly suited to lamb, pork and goat roasted over open fires — or a bacon cheeseburger from your favorite dining spot. Notes of black and red currants and plums are infused with forest and underbrush, leather and loam and dusty graphite, opening to hints of bell pepper and cedar; stalwart yet velvety tannins are permeated by a chiseled granitic element, though the wine’s texture is soft, flowing and appealing; lip-smacking acidity keeps it lively and vibrant on the palate. 14 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2020. Very Good+. About $20.
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