Maybe you are planning a trip to Mendoza, the South American wine destination for many who long for a taste of another culture, another continent. The mountains are majestic with a powerful presence, but soften at the foothills as they cradle acres and acres of vineyards. This is the home to many wineries, and if you are making a list of which to visit, you must go to Bodega Luigi Bosca.
It has been in existence since 1901, when Leoncio Arizu settled in Mendoza. He began the family tradition for true excellence in winemaking, which has remained a family affair now for the third and fourth generations of the Arizu family you will meet. It is one of the few wineries in Mendoza that is still owned by the original family founders. They not only believe in their wines and winemaking, but they have a strong sense of the land and location that produces the best fruit. They wanted to show the world that Mendoza should be officially put on the wine map, to present to the world that Mendoza had a style and character of its own. Fifteen years ago, they were put on the map, with the help of the Arizu family who collaborated to grant the Lujan de Cuyo Denomination of Origin, the first in the entire country. For those of you who understand wine-speak, CDO is equivalent to France’s DOC regulatory system, which ensures quality wine.
At Luigi Bosca, they are about making quality, stylish wines and being consistent with standards, but they are not afraid to adapt those high standards by recognizing Mother Nature’s behavior and each harvest’s set of challenges. The 700 acres of vineyards are even adaptations from the vines that were first planted over a hundred years ago. As years and harvests passed them by, they learned from the land, and what environments the specific varietals thrived in best. The generations of experience allowed them to change with local environmental fluctuations and demands.
The vineyards of Mendoza live at some of the highest altitudes in the world. Luigi Bosca’s vineyards are planted between 2,340 and 3,450 feet above sea level and are at home in a mix of red and white clay and pebbles. It is ideal for drainage during the months with snow run-off after winter. The more the vine struggles, the better the fruit. That may be old wine-growing knowledge, but they pair it with the natural ecology and bio-dynamics of the area. Vines thrive in certain areas when the native elements are still in existence; other species, like chestnut trees and olive trees. The moon cycles are important to watch as they sync with cycles of the vine. By respecting nature and watching trends, often there is less of a challenge or forceful manner to make good wine. It just happens.
Speaking of wines, I’m getting to that now. The winery has two unique lines; Finca la Linda, from the La Linda vineyards and of course, Luigi Bosca. Both lines are going to have different price points and there are many lovely wines to choose from, but I want to share my favorites with you.
La Linda, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010
This is a characteristic New World full-bodied Cabernet. But the terrain, like most of their wines, show through with dusty characteristics to follow dark, ripe, drip from your chin blackberries. It was aged 3 months in a mix of American and French oak, which gives it hints of peppercorn and other warm spices. The tannins are young. This wine is delicious, but hold for another 3-5 years for more mature development.
La Linda, Malbec, 2010
100% Malbec. A simple, yet lovely wine that is ready to drink. It has the intensity that all Malbec-lovers will appreciate with perfect tannins and a mouth full of bright cherries and plums.
This is a fun one, and for those of you who might be guilty of choosing a wine for its label, this is the wine for you.
Luigi Bosca, De Sangre, 2008
The translation from Spanish is ‘of blood’. The ‘blood’ being the 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 15% Syrah. These grapes are from 90-year-old vineyards! The color lives up to its name of a rich and profound red. It is intensely flavored with elegant dark fruits, with a complexity that can only come from 90 years of living in the soil. There are notes of granite and earth. The tannins are well balanced and show a medium level of maturity. It can be aged another 10-12 years.
I have saved the best for last on this list. There are definitely a few.
Gala 1, Luigi Bosca, Malbec-Petit Verdot-Tannat
Forget-about-it! What ever you THINK you know about Malbec, throw it out the window! This wine was fermented for four weeks, and then the skins were left to sit on the wine for another two weeks. After which, it was laid to rest in new French Oak for 14 months, and all of the time was worth it. The wine shines of garnet with a tinge of violet. Soft aromas of dark cherries, plums and vanilla French toast, will open in your glass. From that you might be surprised to taste spicy peppercorn, grilled steak, the best cup of coffee, dark chocolate, smoked beef and cherry tart. If you like Gala 1 and you want more, you should taste what Gala’s 2, 3 and 4 have to offer.
Images courtesy Luigi Bosca