Quintessa is in the heart of Nappa Valley, in Rutherford. It's a very pretty part of the world, not one I get to frequent often but I always enjoy it when I do. On this occasion it was purely luck that brought me to their vineyard for tasting and a visit. It was back in 2007 and I was with a colleague driving around Nappa. We saw the sign and just drove up. Typically they don't allow walk ins - you have to book in advance for a tasting experience. Very different to most Australian vineyards. We got lucky and were able to have a modified experience with just a tasting. Still nothing there is 'just a tasting'. It's a full on seated experience with decanted wines & cheeses. They really go all out to make it enjoyable.
Quintessa is unusual. They have 5 varietals that grow on the estate - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Carmenere. The wine is a blend that can include all or some of these and is different year on year depending on how the season went. I've not really experienced that before - so it was quite fun to see it in action. It also makes for a very different experience if you wanted to do a vertical tasting over the years :-)
The wine I bought back with me was a 2003 vintage. The tasting notes from their website state:
“2003 produced wines of infinite complexity that remind us that vintages do make a difference in California. If some vintages are epic Symphonies that dazzle even the untrained ear with their power and force, then 2003 is an intricate string concerto that astounds us with subtlety and speaks to our soul. Quintessa 2003 is a wine that draws its power not from a single idea of concentration but from layer upon layer of complexity. It is an intellectual wine requiring study to understand its full profound genius.”
So what does that mean in real terms when it came to drinking it in 2015? Well it meant decanting for a while - a long while. On the nose it smelt a lot like plums and berries - more cherry than strawberry though. Lots of spice too. To drink it was pretty smooth. Lighter that I expected it to be. Thankfully we weren't pairing this with anything rich and gamey as I don't think it would have stood up to it enough. But with the rare roasted beef and salad we had it was pretty easy to drink. An unusual choice for us with the meal but we really wanted to drink something from the "fridge" and this was the pick.
It's not a cheap wine though. Checking online today the average is around $125 a bottle. I think it's a little overpriced for what it is... but it's still fun to drink something new so I don't regret a thing :-)