Interview with Jeff Mausbach, Proprietor at BUSCADO VIVO O MUERTO
Long-time colleagues, Alejandro Sejonovich and Jeff Mausbach explore some of the most challenging terroir in Argentina in search for new, frontier vineyard sites in the Uco Valley.
BUSCADO VIVO O MUERTO (Wanted Dead or Alive) is an ambitious project founded by Alejandro Sejonovich and Jeff Mausbach, long-time colleagues at the highly regarded Argentinian winery, Catena Zapata.
Their goal for the project was to search for new, frontier vineyard sites in the Uco Valley, locations high up in the Andes foothills where no one was working. Their search was long, extensive and often frustrating. It felt like -pursuing something evasive, difficult to define. But Alejandro and Jeff perservered – determined to find it, DEAD OR ALIVE.
I recently had the opportunity of interview Jeff Mausbach to learn more about the inspiration behind BUSCADO VIVO O MUERTO and his aspirations heading into 2020 and beyond.
To learn more, read our interview below.
Know your winemaker, know your wine
TVP: What inspired you to search for vineyard sites where no one was working before and create this line of wines?
Jeff Mausbach (JM): This was inspired by the work that my partner Alejandro did in the early 1990s while he was working for Catena Zapata. He conducted an R&D Program to discover the best areas in the Uco Valley to plant Malbec in order to give guidance to the planting program at the winery. He micro-vinified small lots of old vine vineyards in order to measure the potential of the different areas. We decided to design the Buscado Vivo O Puerto portfolio to work with these vineyards.
TVP: Has the search continued? Can we expect to see other new/unique BUSCADO VIVO O MUERTO offerings from other parts of the Uco Valley?
JM: The search has continued, but now with white wines. We have just produced four different Chardonnays from four appellations in the Uco Valley.
The Vintner Project (TVP): How would you describe the wines of BUSCADO VIVO O MUERTO in 5 words or less?
JM: Old vine Malbex field blend
TVP: What do you hope consumers take away after experiencing a BUSCADO VIVO O MUERTO wine?
JM: That old vine Malbec offers a wonderful balance of rich concentration with elegance, freshness and balance. In addition, there is great complexity from the presence of several varietals in the blend.
TVP: You ventured out on your own in 2009 with the creation of Manos Negras, what has been the most challenging aspect of building your portfolio over the past 10 years?
JM: Our greatest challenge has been to find and build our team of great professionals to help us with our growth and investment. We have been fortunate to have a fantastic team!
TVP: Through your innovative wine projects, you have been recognized for “helping to diversify the Argentine wine scene”. What else do you have up your sleeve heading into 2020 and beyond?
JM: We continue to experiment with high altitude mountain Malbec. We have just made our second vintage of a new project from Jujuy, a small province in the far Northwest corner of Argentina. It comes from a small two hectare vineyard over 8,000 feet elevation.
EL MANZANO – LOS CHACAYES
Terroir: Los Chacayes is located in the mid Uco Valley, in the county of Tunuyan, at an altitude of 4,000’ elevation. It is the last vineyard district before the Andean foothills.
Vinification: Micro – fermented in plastic harvest bins, concrete eggs, and small concrete tanks with natural yeasts at a maximum temperature of 64.4oF for 17 days. All manual cap management with 4 punching downs per day.
Tasting Notes: Theres a lot going on with this co-ferment of Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Aromas of stewed red fruit and earth mingle with hints of meat and spice. Medium-bodied with velvety tannins and a long finish. An impressive wine worth seeking out. Drink now or hold.
LAS PAREDITAS – EL LIMITE
Terroir: Las Pareditas is is located in the far southern Ico Valley, in the county of San Carlos, at an altitude of 3,400’ elevation. It is the last vineyard district before Mendoza’s vast southern desert expanse.
Vinification: Micro – fermented in plastic harvest bins, concrete eggs, and small concrete tanks with natural yeasts at a maximum temperature of 71.6oF for 14 days. All manual cap management with 4 punching downs per day.
Tasting Notes: A co-ferment of Malbec, Tempranillo and Syrah, this wine has beautiful black fruit aromas with a hint of spice. On the palate the tannins are firm but approachable. Drink now.
SAN JORGE – ALTAMIRA
Terroir: Paraje Altamira is located in the southern Uco Valley, in the county of San Carlos, at an altitude of 4,000’ elevation.
Vinification: Micro – fermented in plastic harvest bins, concrete eggs, and small concrete tanks with natural yeasts at a maximum temperature of 68oF for 15 days. All manual cap management with 6 punching downs per day.
Tasting Notes: After a brief, 30 minute decant, this wine was singing. A co-ferment of Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet this wine displayed aromas of black fruit and herbs. Silky smooth tannins and great balance. A perfect steak wine. Pair with a ribeye and drink now.