Founded in 1902 by the Arizu family in Mendoza, Luigi Bosca has been at the forefront of Argentinian winemaking for 120 years. The wines reflect the founders pioneering spirit and knowledge, as well as the family’s passion and commitment to the purity of the terroir and the production of the best varietal expressions that Mendoza has to offer. Guided by four key pillars: nature, craftsmanship, science, and instinct – this innovative approach and pursuit of excellence has consolidated its position as one of the benchmarking Argentine wine producers globally.
We caught up with head winemaker Pablo Cunéo to find out more.
How did it all start?
Ever since I was a child, I have admired and appreciated the natural world, so it came instinctually that I wanted my profession to be linked to nature. My first choice was to become a veterinarian but having grown up in Mendoza, surrounded by the sublime landscape of Argentina’s Andes Mountains, I was drawn to a career in Agronomy.
Agronomy (a local career) in Mendoza is linked to winemaking, and my own journey began with my first job in 1997 when I worked at the Argentine winery Chandon, making base wine for sparkling wine. After five years I joined Terrazas de los Andes, where I embarked on my second winery journey with the LVMH group. In 2006 I moved to Ruca Malen Winery as Technical Director where I spent a decade. Finally, I joined Luigi Bosca in 2017, where I have found further respect for nature and an ambition that matches my own.
Tell us about the Luigi Bosca wine range and what makes it different?
Luigi Bosca has been the frontrunner in setting new standards in the region since its founding, and after making wine for more than a century, they are now well-known classics.
Since the 1970s Luigi Bosca has continued working with varietals beyond Malbec (diversifying their portfolio), such as: Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir. In 1989, Luigi Bosca was bestowed the country’s first D.O.C., the Luján de Cuyo Controlled Denomination of Origin, which recognises Luigi Bosca’s unique and invaluable heritage.
What really makes Luigi Bosca’s range so special is its expression of Argentina’s diversity, which is a result of the winery’s longstanding respect for nature and the terroir that Mendoza offers. This ethos sets the range and winemaking apart with their continues improvement and biodiversity in the vineyards which allows the Luigi Bosca range to expand beyond Malbec.
The Luigi Bosca range is a hallmark to 120+ years of winemaking expertise, perfecting the truest expressions of classic varietals from Mendoza. Our De Sangre Range is crafted from the finest Mendoza terroir and reflects the ambition of the four generations of winemaking. The premium range Los Nobles features the most venerated single vineyards of Mendoza to provide a rich canvas for the creation of classic and ancient varietals from the region. The most recent addition to the portfolio is Paraíso, the most transcendent expression of blended perfection as well as an homage to the ancestral origins of the Arizu family.
The style of wine is what connects the range, all wines are gentle and elegant in expression while the precision and purity of the fruit is at the soul. This perfect balance in the portfolio comes from winemaking that respects tradition and embraces innovation.
What makes Mendoza so special?
Mendoza is Argentina’s heart of wine; the region is world-renowned for its Malbecs and accounts for 70% of Argentina’s wine production. Located in the mid-west of the country by the foothills of the Andes, we talk about ‘The Four Secrets of the Andes’, what I believe creates the near-perfect terroir for winemaking.
The first secret is the sun, which gives the vines much energy to develop in concertation, colour and flavours with the consistent sunlight and dry weather. Followed by cooler Mendoza nights, wind from the Andes slows down the ripening process and extends growth, resulting in perfectly ripened grapes and tannins full of fruit flavours, with freshness and purity.
Our second secret is our soils. We have low fertility and very drained soils of alluvial origin. The low fertility soils help to control and balance the vines growth and obtain very concentrated grapes.
The third secret is water. Mendoza’s dry climate and sunny weather means we only experience around 200mm of rain per year, as a result we use drip irrigation systems for Luigi Bosca’s vineyards, watering with pure water from the Andes mountains.
The fourth and last secret is altitude. We have continental conditions, but the altitudes differ from 600m to 1700m of elevation in Mendoza. The steep difference in elevation results in a Winkler I climate like the South of England in the highest areas and as hot as Spain, Winkler V in the lowest areas, all within 100 kilometres. Luigi Bosca has vineyards planted from 700 meters to 1250 meters of elevation, which causes a diverse range of weather that helps develop and discover potential and character in grapes.
How is Mendoza changing with the climate issues we are facing?
The main challenge for Mendoza is the scarce water source. Climate change is causing a different weather pattern than what we have adapted our methods and systems to; we are seeing more rain in spring and summer and less snow in winter. Our vineyards need 500-600mm of water a year, however in Mendoza rainfall is just about 200mm so irrigation is a must. The measures we do in soils and vines to add the proper amount of water are crucial, alongside the drip irrigation system, for more efficiency with water usage.
Increasing temperatures and changes in the climate we wish to protect means we are focusing further on adapting our methods to protect the biodiversity, our soils and saving water.
What food goes well with your wines?
I encourage people to explore the range and be adventurous with food pairings, but the Malbec and steak are a classic combination. Luigi Bosca’s style of wines have a pure character of fruit, resulting in a good level of acidity and clean palate, making the wine easier to pair with food.
Why is it better for the consumer to have grapes from different terroirs?
Grape varietals can behave differently in separate climates, especially the Malbec, which has varied expressions based on terroir. Tasting specific grapes from different terroirs is an excellent way for consumers to learn and expand their impression of wine. French Malbec will have different flavours and characters to an Argentine Malbec, even wines from different Argentine regions will taste different.
In Mendoza the steep difference in altitudes offer a unique opportunity to grow grape varietals in differing conditions and altitudes. Our De Sangre range is an excellent example of how blending grapes from different terroirs results in wine reflecting the complexity of the grape. The Luigi Bosca De Sangre Cabernet Sauvignon uses blends from four different areas, Altamira brings sweetness, Agrelo brings flavours of black fruit and the tannins, grapes from our vineyards in Gualtallary adds freshness, and finally Cabernet from Las Compuertas bring white pepper, elegance, and softness. The combination of the Cabernet Sauvignon from different terroirs results in a wine truly expressing all characters of the varietal.
Any new products coming up you can tell us about?
Our newest addition to the Luigi Bosca range is the first vintage of Paraíso which launched this summer and pays homage to the Arizu family’s ancestral origins. The idea behind this wine is to capture the very best reflection of Luigi Bosca’s vineyards. Most of the blend is Malbec with the rest made up of Cabernet Sauvignon – precisely 71% Malbec and 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, just for our first 2019 vintage. The blend will always come from these vineyards; however, it can vary depending on the harvest.
What are your sustainability objectives and what do they really mean?
Having been around for centuries we know that to continue, we must adapt and protect the environment. Sustainability is a huge topic at Luigi Bosca and we consider it our most important responsibility to take care of the soil, water and people working with us.
Currently in practice, our sustainability efforts are focused on the use of water. As mentioned, with very little rain, there’s insufficient amounts to water the soils. We started investment into saving water back in 1990 by implementing drip irrigation systems to water through a sustainable source. This investment is ongoing and in 2023 some of the biggest estates and vineyards will switch. While at the winery our objective is to reduce water usage by half in two years.
Due to climate changes we continue to analyse and implement what works to ensure the best for nature, our vineyards biodiversity and soil. We are also actively changing to organic farming and are on track to receive a full certificate by 2023.
Overall, at Luigi Bosca we take a holistic approach to sustainability. Not only do we focus on the nature, harvest, soils, production, and business, but also the community and people that keep our winery going. Our sustainability journey is ongoing and one we don’t see ending, only evolving, reassessing, and adapting to the changes we face at Luigi Bosca.
What is next for Luigi Bosca?
The ambition is to become one of the most admired Argentinian wineries in the world and making a range of elegant wines the consumer can enjoy, explore, and learn from.
The future of Luigi Bosca is staying focused on our history and letting the ambition and pioneering spirit that has driven us for the past 120 years to take us forward. We will continue to let excellence be the ethos of our winemaking, aiming to create the most exciting and elegant wines of Argentina.
To discover more, visit: luigibosca.com
All Imagery courtesy of Luigi Bosca.