To say something is new and old may sound like a contradiction, but Château Quintus is just that. The Saint-Émilion wine estate is the newest addition to the prestigious portfolio of French wine company Domaine Clarence Dillon – owners of the eminent Château Haut-Brion – but its heritage dates back to the earliest days of this historic wine region. The newly named estate encompasses the vineyards of Château Tertre Daugay and its neighbour Château L’Arrosee – both are recognised as Saint-Émilion premier crus from as early as 1868 in famous Bordeaux wine directory Le Féret and the former is listed as a recipient of the Gold Medal for Saint-Émilion in the Exposition Universelle de Paris of 1867.
The new Château Quintus was inspired by the Gallo-Romans – the original creators of Saint-Émilion’s vineyards, who would often name their fifth child Quintus (Latin for fifth) – and reflects the wine’s status as the fifth member of Domaine Clarence Dillon’s family of wines, joining the red and white wines of Château Haut-Brion and Château La Mission Haut-Brion.
The person who connects Château Quintus’s past and present is estate manager François Capdemourlin, who belongs to one of Saint-Émilion’s oldest winemaking families. ‘When you’re a child, and you grow up in the vineyard, you observe, you taste berries, you help, you are there and it’s your life, so it’s in your blood,’ he says when asked about what it’s like to grow up on a wine estate. And the secret to making good wine? ‘Respect,’ he says. ‘Respect for everything – the environment, the ecosystem, the people, the terroir, the wines, the customers. Respect for every single step of the work. And patience.’
The first vintage of Château Quintus to be produced under the control of Domaine Clarence Dillon was the 2011, with the 2017 (for sale en primeur now and due for delivery in early-2020) marking the seventh. For Bordeaux wine enthusiasts, Château Quintus offers an exciting opportunity to build a vertical collection of wines, right from the beginning of the brand. ‘It is quite rare and unique to have the opportunity to follow the birth of a Grand Cru in Bordeaux,’ says Domaine Clarence Dillon’s deputy managing director Jean-Philippe Delmas.
While all the Château Quintus wines drink well young, those who are patient enough to wait will reap the rewards by laying them down for a decade or so. ‘If you can get your hands on a Château Quintus 2011 – their first vintage – that’s what I’d recommend,’ advises Julia Sewell, wine manager at Mayfair’s Michelin-starred Hide restaurant. ‘As soon as it has got some time and development it starts to show its complexity, and you really see the quality behind it. But the one that I might gravitate towards now, if you want something to drink straightaway, is the house’s second wine, Le Dragon de Quintus, as it’s the one that you can drink more easily in its youth.’
A joint venture between acclaimed chef Ollie Dabbous and the owners of fine wine and spirits boutique Hedonism Wines, Hide was conceived to celebrate the fact that ‘a lot of the joy of wine is having it with food,’ explains Sewell. Guests at the restaurant have access to Hedonism’s full range of more than 6,000 wines, which can be delivered from the shop within 15 minutes. And, of course, diners can also purchase bottles from the shop to take home with them. ‘It means we can give people the option to take a Château Quintus for their cellar and enjoy a Le Dragon de Quintus with their meal,’ adds Sewell.
The joy of pairing great wine with great food is also a philosophy close to the heart of the Domaine Clarence Dillon family. The group has its own two Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris, Le Clarence, as well as a specialist French wine and spirit boutique, La Cave Du Château, which stocks wines from all the Domaine Clarence Dillon estates, as well as famous labels and special vintages from other French producers. Both the restaurant and boutique are housed in a beautifully restored 19th-century mansion house on Avenue Franklin Roosevelt, near the Champs-Élysees.
‘We like to share wines with food,’ says Delmas. ‘We have more and more demand from people to come and visit our wine estates, but they want to drink our wines at the table with food, and not in a laboratory or a tasting room, so we are going to open some private dining rooms for customers to share the experience of enjoying our wines with good food, in a wonderful place.’
A project is currently underway to create a special hospitality experience and dining space at Château Quintus. Those interested in visiting can register their interest directly through the Domaine Clarence Dillon website by clicking here.