Promotional featureA family business reinventing success in the Uco Valley...
Back in the early 2000s the Argentinian economy crashed, and the country’s wine industry soon followed. But in 2002, Patricio Gouguenheim – born in Argentina to French parents – took an opposite direction to most, entering the wine trade instead of leaving it.
A seven-year-old Patricio first discovered his love for wine when his father let him taste some at mealtimes mixed with sparkling water. His later career in mergers and acquisitions led him to Mendoza and, after coming across a winery in the Uco Valley, he quickly realised that his old life working in finance was over. While this winery was all but abandoned, it was nevertheless blessed with an abundance of small concrete tanks – perfect for making high-quality, site-focused wines
‘I worked with an investment group trying to sell two Argentinian wineries in the US and UK markets,’ recalls Gouguenheim of his earlier career. ‘I studied the business for almost two years until I became fascinated by this old winery in the middle of the Uco Valley.
‘It was in Tupungato, where you find the highest vines in Mendoza. Having vineyards at height – ours are at more than 1,000m altitude – means having good quality wines. There is a huge difference between wines from this region with those that come from other parts of Mendoza. With great views of the Andes mountains, an irrigation system and really unique soils, it was the perfect location to start this family business I’ve that I’d always dreamt of.’
With no previous experience as a wine producer, Gouguenheim understandably started making wines – mainly oaked Malbecs – that followed Argentina’s tried and tested traditions. Yet, in 2014, the winery was the first in the country to make and sell a sparkling wine made from the country’s signature grape, called Malbec Bubbles Rosé Extra Brut.
The Malbec must is macerated for three days prior to fermentation which takes place in stainless steel tanks at a cool temperature of 12°C in order to retain the variety’s fresh aromatics and brisk, primary red fruit flavours.
This exciting new wine – a first for Argentina – was a sparkling success from the off, earning 89 points in Decanter in May 2017 and now 91 points in 2018. Such validation is further proof, along with increasing success at home and in other international markets, that Gouguenheim’s judgement to follow his dream despite the economic pressures of 16 years ago was the right one.
‘I never regret, not even for a minute, what we’ve done,’ says Gouguenheim.
‘I wanted a change in my quality of life – to create a family business, and to produce something I am proud of. That is why we use our name in our wines. I have my sons working by my side, and my grandchildren are already becoming familiar with the winery.’