Sunday, January 20, 2008
One of our favorite bodegas in the Valle de Uco (Uco Valley) region of Mendoza is a small boutique bodega called O. Fournier.
O. Fournier is named after the spanish owners, the family of Ortega Gil-Fournier. It looks like a french name, but is spanish and pronounced as four-knee-air, not four-knee-ay.
Wow! We were blown away by our visit.
First, the place is a wild looking modern masterpiece. It rises above the surrounding vineyards and looks more like a UFO launching pad than a winery.
But the design is a masterpiece of technology and architecture with a single purpose—to use gravity and not machines to process the grapes and avoid pumping and introducing harmful oxygen into the process.
Second, our guide was friendly, warm and passionate about O.Fournier's wine and philosophy. This was in stark contrast to our guide at Salentein from earlier in the day.
Finally, O. Fournier's flagship wine, the 2002 Alfa Curx blend was awarded a Wine Spectator rating of 93 and was rated as #86 of the top 100 wines.
So when we got to the tasting room, were we given some low end experiment that they had unsold inventory of like at Salentein? No. We were given tastings of their two flagship Alpha Crux wines—the blend and the Malbec.
And man were they good.
The spanish are fond of their Tempranilo grape. O. Fournier thought the conditions of the Uco Valley would be good for Tempranilo. And if they blended it with Malbec, they could make a wine that was differentiated from the 1000s of Malbecs being made here.
Their gamble paid off. I don't know how much is due to the grape and how much is due to the marvel of architecture and the innovative technology built into their winery.
The ramps you see in the first picture bring the grapes up one story above the ground where gravity does its gentle magic on the grapes and minimizes the need for machines and pumps.
Gravity helps the wine through all of the wine making process until its final resting place in the cellar 3 stories underground.
Not only is O. Fournier's technology innovative, it is beautiful to look at. They have perfected the art of wine making to a minimalist modern masterpiece.