Natural Origins Cabernet Sauvignon, Argentina
Natural Origins Malbec, Argentina
D on’t wrinkle your nose when you see box wines. There are many box wines that are outstanding these days. The box wines from Natural Origins, for instance, aren’t your grandfather’s box wines.
Because many of the early box wines were inexpensive and poorly made, some people assume all box wines are plonk. That is absolute nonsense. I have had many well made wines that are packaged in boxes.
The Natural Origins wines are very good, and priced at about $20 for a 3 liter box of wine, this is one of the best buys of the year. Three liters equal four normal 750-ml bottles, so the price comes out to $5 for a bottle. Because the wine comes packaged in a plastic bladder inside the box, it will last for 30 days or more. The stored wine is never exposed to oxygen.
The Natural Origins organic wines are produced by the Bousquet family from grapes grown high up in the Tupungato Valley of the Mendoza region or Argentina. The grapes are harvested by hand.
The Tupungato Valley is known for producing grapes with an abundance of aroma, flavor and freshness thanks to large day-night temperature swings, and the intense mountain sunlight.
I particularly like their Cabernet Sauvignon, which is made fro 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. At $5 a bottle you’re not going to get a lot of depth and complexity, but there is plenty of dark fruit flavor such as plum, blackberry and black cherry.
The winery doesn’t say if the wine spends any time on oak, but if it does, it probably is a minimal time. This is a food-friendly cab with soft tannins and a mellow mouthfeel.
We also tried the Malbec, which has rich, intense blackberry aromas with black pepper notes. This is a fairly elegant wine with a little more complexity than the cab. Red and black fruit flavors mix with silky tannins.
Natural Origins also make 3 liter boxes of Chardonnay and Rosé.
Alhough no vintage is listed on the box, fruit for the red wines is from the 2019 harvest, while the Chardonnay and Rosé are from the 2020 harvest. The colorful packaging of the cardboard box features a Tree of Life
Apparently many people are making a run on boxed wine. According to recent Nielsen data the end of March saw a 53 percent increase in 3 liter boxed wine sales. It could be that folks were stocking up for the long quarantine ahead. Three of these boxes would be the equivalent of a case of bottles.
The packaging also helps keep the price down, eliminating the purchase of bottles and corks. Shipping would be less, as well, because the box and bladder weigh much less than the glass bottles.
“The cost-effective, environmentally friendly packaging enables us to deliver these wines at an affordable price,” said Labid Ameri, co-owner of Natural Origins.
Whenever we get through the COVID-19 pandemic these wines will be perfect for gatherings at the lake, parties in the backyard, picnics, or just having a bunch of neighbors over for a glass of wine. The wines are crowd pleasers.
Winery: Natural Orgins wines are made by the Domaine Bousquet winery, which is owned by a family with roots in southern France.
The Bousquet (say it boos-KAY) family made wine in the city of Carcassonne for four generations before Jean Bousquet decided he wanted to try producing wine in Argentina.
After selling his vineyards in the 1990s Bousquet moved to Argentina with his daughter Anne and her husband Labid Al Ameri. They looked for the best locations and focused on Mendoza, the largest wine region in Argentina.
What surprised everyone is where in Mendoza they settled.
Bousquet bought about 270 acres (since expanded to 600 acres) in the Gualtallary valley in Tupungato, Mendoza in 1997. With cool nights and a near constant breeze, the vineyard is located in a region with the ideal conditions to produce ripe grapes and extraordinary wines.
No one had ever planted grapevines there before because they thought it would be too cold in the foothills of the Andes Mountains.
“The nature is so imposing,” said Anne Bousquet. “There is nothing between you and the Andes. It is pure. You don’t want to be the first to spoil this pristine land. You don’t want to pollute that.”
In 2011 founder Jean Bousquet sold the winery to his daughter Anne and her husband. They recruited winemaker Paul Hobbs to consult through 2015, with a special focus on new approaches to pruning and harvesting of grapes at different levels of maturity to produce even better balanced wines.
The latest project involves planting 37 more acres and adding two more varietals, Grenache and Cabernet Franc.
The winery sells about 400,000 cases of wine a year in 50 countries and recently increased its presence in the American market by forming its own import company. They dropped prices and sales went up.
Adopting the French philosophy, the team blends parcels for greater complexity and consistency, even in their single vineyard wines, rather than individually bottling micro-parcels.
The Domaine Bousquet label includes Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blance, a Rosé, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot. They also do a Chardonnay/Torrontes blend. The winery also has a reserve line, Gaia red and white blends, Gran Bousquet (select grapes from the home vineyard) and Ameri, a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot.
Goes with: We tried these wines one weeknight when I didn’t want to cook. Usually when I make soups and stews I make extra to freeze. So this night we explored the freezer and we each picked our own dinner.
I had beef stew, made from a recipe handed down from my mother. I has loads of beef chunks, potatoes, carrots, celery and peas, flavored with beef broth and bay leaves. It is a hearty stew, and the Natural Origins Cab held up to it well. It had the perfect blend of fruit and smooth tannins to complement the food and not overpower it.
Both of these wines would pair well with red meat, sauces, hardy cheeses and pasta dishes. Just about anything you can make on the grill except for seafood would be perfect with these wines.
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Natural Origins Cabernet Sauvignon, Argentina