Quintessa was the focus of my sixth day of tasting. I discovered them through my membership with Flowers Winery and the Huneeus Family of wineries. Their portfolio of wineries includes a few more that I’d like to visit as well. Especially Faust who has a tasting room that is opening this spring. So, maybe a future trip.
I admittedly didn’t know much about Quintessa before my visit. I realized quickly that I’d forgotten to do my homework. Before each visit, I like to study the winery’s website to understand their selection of wines and their history and have questions prepared in advance. I’ll even start my post before my visit with the historical details. Quintessa makes a single cabernet sauvignon every year. I’m quickly learning that’s a thing! Theirs is a bordeaux blend consisting of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Carmenere, and Petit Verdot.
But, first, I was greeted with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc from their Illumination label. It was quickly explained that the family produced this Sauvignon Blanc for themselves with no intention of distribution. They would gift it to friends and family. However, their wine club members quickly learned about this wine and it is now also available for purchase. I had the opportunity to try the 2018 upon my arrival to enjoy on the winery tour.
Since it was my first visit to the winery my host, Alvaro, gave me the full tour of their production areas, caves, and vineyards. Their cave sits directly under the lobby of their tasting lounge. However, it was the vineyard tour I enjoyed most. We both hopped into a golf cart/UTV vehicle and were on our way! I joked that we should have taken my Jeep! I don’t think Alvaro realized I was completely serious. Speaking of my Jeep, I’ve never had so many folks comment on my vehicle (which have been rentals) on previous wine tastings as I have on this trip!
Since it’s January and quiet, we snuck into one of their Private Pavillions to taste the 2017 Illumination Sauvignon Blanc. The winery has a couple of these pavilions for tastings. The views from this hill in Rutherford are incredible! It rained later in the day so I was incredibly grateful I experienced it before the storms rolled in. All of their fruit is estate grown on the vines in view on either side of Dragon’s Lake in the photos.
The photo below is the Private Pavilion…and Alvaro. All of the glass walls open up so you can take in the views and enjoy the weather on gorgeous days – even without the glass. Quintessa offers several tasting options when you visit. Their Quintessential Experience is held in these pavillions and features barrel samples. I’ll be honest, tasting from a barrel was great the first time. But, I do not have the experience to appreciate what I’m tasting from that barrel to know the wine’s potential. But, I still remember that first time. It was at Beringer 20 years ago. It was also the slow season between Thanksgiving and Christmas and I was on the tour alone. My host allowed me to use the “thief” to extract the wine myself.
We headed back down to the tasting area – darn- I could have stayed in that pavilion all day. However, a vertical of Quintessa was waiting for me! From left to right (though I’m sure they all look the same) is the 2016, 2014, and 2013 vintages. Alvaro asked if I’d like a plate of cheese – YES! Always yes to cheese!
The cheeses were Cowgirl Creamery’s Wagonwheel (this is the second time that particular cheese has been paired with wine on this trip and I have some in my fridge), Manchego, and Pine Ridge or something similar.
The 2016 was delightful but young. All of the 2016 Cabs I’m tasting on this trip are incredible and scored well over 95 points. I read an article that poked fun at Robert Parker comparing him to Oprah for his 2016 Cab ratings saying “You get a 100, and YOU get a 100 and YOUUU get a 100!” This vintage is just that good. I loved the 2013 and seeing what I could look forward to after a little age on the 2016. Surprisingly, the 2013 was only around $20 or more for the bottle – not a bad price for a library wine. However, I resisted. I didn’t enjoy the 2014 at all….until I paired it with that Manchego! Mental note – a dry Manchego is a perfect pairing for a good, dry wine!
You may be wondering why there was no 2015. I quietly wondered that to myself. Alvaro even asked if I was wondering. So, he produced some 2015 for a full 4-year vertical tasting. I have a photo of that, but my 2014 glass is empty in that photo and there’s only one slice of cheese left on the plate. Ha Ha! This one was prettier. I’m sure you can easily imagine a fourth, identical wine glass in the photo.
Since I’m a member of Flowers, I enjoyed a few perks here, too. I’m not sure they were deserved, but I asked and received! After yesterday’s experience at Merus, I’m not afraid to ask! My purchases of Quintessa were discounted. It looks like I paid for my tasting at the time of reservation, but it felt free!
Wineries under the Huneeus umbrella know how to “wine and dine” their guests. A tasting at Flowers is amazing. They won’t be part of my “30 Wineries in 30 Days” series as the rules I’ve set for myself are: wineries that are new to me & wineries that are not open to the public. However, I’m sure I’ll do a write-up about Flowers in the coming months. It is a must visit if you’re in the Russian River Valley.
While each and every winery has treated me like I’m the only person that’s important to them, being a member at one of their sister wineries helps!
I’m acquiring quite the collection of amazing 2016 Cabs, I really want to do a side-by-side comparison in a few years of these great wines!
Want to read more about my “3o in 30” adventure? Click here to see all of my wineries.