In 2011 Domaine Clarence Dillon, proprietors of Ch Haut Brion and Ch La Mission Haut Brion, undertook an exciting new project beyond their home roots of Pessac-Léognan. Venturing the other side of the Gironde, they bought the historically acclaimed St Emilion Classified growth Ch Tertre Daugay, 16 hectares of prime vineyard on the limestone plateau.
Led by family chairman Prince Robert of Luxembourg and his wine management team, run by the brilliant Jean-Philippe Delmas, they have set about a wholesale restructuring of the estate and creation of a totally new brand. First came the new name Ch Quintus in honour of its position as the 5th child within the family group of wines. Then came the purchase of an additional 15 hectares through buying their neighbour Ch L’Arrosée, which has since been expanded a further 15 hectares with the purchase their other neighbour Ch Grand Pontet, making the estate a significant domaine in St Emilion terms with 42 hectares under vine.
The pending en primeur release of the 2021 vintage represents Ch Quintus’s 10th anniversary since its purchase and rebranding. To celebrate this, Prince Robert and Jean-Philippe hosted an extraordinary tasting in the wonderful surrounds of Oswald’s club in Mayfair. They took the decision to not just do a vertical tasting of the 10 vintages under their management to show off the property’s progression, but more daringly decided to show Quintus blind alongside some of the greatest names of the appellation.
So it was that 30 members of the trade and leading journalists devoted a full day towards such a tasting. Eight flights of 6 great wines, vintage by vintage, all blind. The Chateaux tasted in each flight were Ch d’Ausone, Ch Cheval Blanc, Ch Angelus, Ch Pavie, Ch Figeac and of course Ch Quintus. The flights started with their first year, 2011, and finished with the most recently shipped vintage, 2018, and were followed by the 2019, 2020 and 2021 Quintus on its own.
This was quite some test, and this fledgling property and its connections can be rightly proud as to how it fared alongside such venerable neighbours. As always when tasting blind amongst a broad group of tasters there is a variety of scores and thoughts, but I am delighted to report that whilst it didn’t come top of any of the vintage flights, it came overall 2nd in the 2015 flight and 4th in the extremely competitive and highest scoring overall flight of 2016 vintage and never last in any of the eight flights.
In Prince Robert’s words in their first three difficult vintages of 2011,12 and 13, they possibly were trying a little too hard to make a statement. Since then, they have toned down the proportion of new oak and the most striking thing was the beautifully relaxed nature of the more recent vintages. This is a property and wine carving out its own identity and becoming very comfortable in its skin, showing off Jean-Philippe’s preference for letting terroir speak. This was for me was highlighted by the absolutely beautifully charming 2019 vintage, undoubtedly their best vintage ever.
I finished the day excited by Quintus, the direction it is taking and totally convinced that a new great of St Emilion has been born. Quintus is here to stay, and we should all take note.
2011: Earthy, dark autumnal forest fruit aromas. This has wild savoury fruit flavours, with layered tannic texture. There is a touch of the vintage clipped brittleness, but this is protected by a feeling of warmth and sweetness of fruit coming though on the finish, good length and this will evolve further. 93/100 Drink 2024 -2031
2012: Saline, mineral seashore and wild bush fruits aroma. Surprisingly intense palate for this lighter vintage. Nicely layered dark fruits, this has an easy generosity a forward drinking vintage showing some true St Emilion charm. 93/100 Drink 2022-2029
2013: Gamey aromatics, with hints of wild mushroom and white truffle. Dark bitter chocolate flavours, it has a tight clipped red fruit character, finishing a little coarse and dry. 88/100 2022-2025
2014: Reserved dark cassis scent. In the palate this is poised, bright and fresh. An appealing purity of fruit and the unforced wine making style allows for a feeling of refinement and elegance. Good depth and appealing length. 94/100 Drink 2022-2036
2015: A striking mix of Victoria plum and dark autumnal black forest fruits. Initially it is quite tight and compact with a feeling of reserve and then the flavours evolve. This wine has real substance and breadth and shows off the delicious richness of the vintage. Wonderfully sweet on the finish, it has a true feeling of class. Outstanding. 96/100 2022 -2045
2016: Intense black currant and dark cherry characters, with a touch of liquorice. This combines the sweetness of fruit of the vintage with an excellent terroir, limestone minerality, tightly integrated tannins and a bright lift of freshness at the ned. Very good length, this reflects the overall class of the superb quality of the 2016 vintage. 97/100 Drink 2025-2050
2017: The spice and scent of sweet vanilla oak just dominates the cherry fruits on the nose. Quite a linear style, with a grip of granular and slightly unrefined tannins, but then the sweetness of black fruit returns to pull the wine through and the lasting sensation is rewarding and pleasurable. 93/100 2024-2035
2018: An almost Medoc-like nose of graphite and fresh tobacco and deep dark currants. This is compact and tight in nature, with superb intensity of fruit. Very composed, the alcohol and richness of fruit is kept perfectly in check, by a degree of freshness and the tannins are ripe, harmonious, and full. Great persistence on the finish. 97/100 Drink 2026-2045
2019: Lovely scent of damsons and sloes. This is very poised and harmonious in nature. Beautifully charming, this is graceful and flowing in nature. Not a powerful wine, but so appealing and pleasurable. 96/100 Drink 2027 -2039
2020: A deep opaque colour. A very intense style with strong characters of dark currant, liquorice and fresh tobacco leaf. The richness of alcohol is a touch present initially, but then the great weight of fruit and drive of tannic depth come into the fore. Still a real baby, but with huge potential. 95/100 Drink 2028-2045
2021: A very refreshing contrast to the powerfully built 2020 vintage. This is a brighter more energetic style with a fresh crunchy red fruit character. There is a feeling of reserve and tightness initially in the palate, but then the fruit unfolds and there is good medium persistence at the end. 94/100 Drink 2026 -2040