Haute Wines: Quintessa – the Duchess of Napa Valley

Amongst the royal names of Napa Valley’s proprietary blends – Opus One, Insignia, Rubicon, Dominus – one stands apart because of her elegance, power and finesse – Quintessa. Founded in 1989 by Augustin and Valeria Huneeus, the 280 acre, Rutherford estate is a tribute to Napa Valley’s splendor. Instantly enamored by Quintessa, both Valeria and Augustin knew the estate was bound for greatness – “a property of destiny” as they like to call it. Twenty years later, Quintessa continues to produce classic, Napa Valley wine and is bound to do so for years to come.

Quintessa, like all great wines, is a proprietary blend, a  Meritage as they say in California. The vineyards are planted to classic Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Carmenere) and include a number of microclimates, diverse soils and rich fauna and flora. It is because of this biodiversity that Valeria, a microbiologist and viticulturist by trade, believes the only way to treat the land is with respect thus maintaining its health and equilibrium by means of biodynamic farming practices. Even the winery was constructed in such a way that it did not disturb the natural surroundings and it too lives in harmony with it.

As the reigning queen of the Huneeus family of wines, only the best berries are selected for Quintessa’s production; a singular production at that. Meanwhile, the remaining wine goes into a second label, Faust Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvingon, or gets sold off to other properties. In a state of the art facility, the hand-picked berries are carefully sorted and then gravity fermented in stainless steel tanks. The juice is then aged in French barriques for 18 – 20 months, bottled and then laid down to rest for another year; totaling 3 years of aging prior to release. Throughout every rigorous step in Quintessa’s winemaking process, the gentlest measures are taken ensuring her signature beauty, poise and sheer magnificence are maintained.

This week’s Haute Wines hails to the queen of the Huneeus family wines, the Duchess of Napa Valley, and bows to her grace and distinction.

Quintessa, Napa Valley, CA 2007 – Deep and dark, the 2007 vintage delivers complex notes of mixed brambleberry, currants and mocha spice.  Her royal highness is unabashed and firm on the nose with a rich, luscious mouth feel and smooth, soft tannins. Dense and powerful, yet supple and refined in one fell swoop, one notices Quintessa’s intensity as quickly as the Queen of Hearts screams “Off with their heads!” If anything, heads absolutely roll with sheer pleasure.

Please note some wines are very limited in production and therefore difficult to find. If interested in acquiring, visit www.epicuriouschic.com and we can assist in sourcing these wines. Follow me on twitter @epicuriouschic.