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Interview: Jean-Philippe Delmas on Chateau Quintus

Domaine Clarence Dillon announced last week that the classified St-Emilion estate bought in June 2011, Chateau Tertre Daugay, was to be renamed as Chateau Quintus. Jane Anson caught up with Chateau Haut-Brion estate manager Jean-Philippe Delmas to find out a little more about their plans.

Why Saint Emilion, and why this property?
“It is a region that we wanted to get to know more, a very beautiful part of Bordeaux with a 2,000 year history of winemaking. It may have suffered image problems in recent years because of challenges to the classification, but for us, the quality of the terroir is there, and the location of this particular estate, on one of the extremities of the limestone plateau, was too good to pass up.”

What changes are you planning to make at the property?
“For a start, we will not be using outside consultants. Stephane Derenoncourt had been the wine consultant at the estate since 2004 – but as with Haut-Brion, we will be using our own inhouse oenologists; (Delmas himself) and Jean-Philippe Masclef.

“We have not yet made any other changes to the vineyard or the cellars – we wanted to get the first harvest in and to understand what we have before making changes. Oliver Tregoat (the same specialist who undertook a terroir study of all five First Growth estates in 2000) has just completed a geological survey of the soils and sub-soils – and depending on his final results, we will make modifications in the vineyard. We are of course used to working with merlot at Haut-Brion, but how it reacts to the ecosystem here will be a learning process.”

Will you be looking to enlarge the vineyard?
“Currently the vineyard is 15 hectares, and we have no immediate plans to expand, although we would consider buying further plots if they are suitable.”

Who will be working at the estate?
“The team will be the same as at Haut Brion. There are five workers at Quintus, who will remain as they were before – four in the vines, one in the cellars, although they can swap between the two areas with ease. Because of the smaller size of estates on the Right Bank, workers tend to be versatile, unlike on the Left Bank, where cellar workers and vineyard works have more rigid roles.”

Why change a name that has such a long history?

“We felt Tertre Daugay was difficult to pronounce in many languages. It is of course a well-known name in Saint Emilion, but not necessarily outside of that microcosm. Saint Emilion’s history dates right back to the Roman era, and we felt Quintus is a name that respects that history.”

Will you be showing Quintus at Haut-Brion this year, or with the Cru Classes of Saint Emilion?

“The 2011 vintage will be shown at Haut-Brion, but we are not yet decided for following years. It might be better to be tasted with the other Saint Emilions. Lafite, for example, does not show L’Evangile up in Pauillac, but does show Duhart Milon, as it is from the same appellation, as we show both Mission Haut-Brion and Haut-Brion. But for this first year, for people to get a chance to taste our new estate, yes they will all be together.”

Have you submitted a dossier for the new Saint Emilion classification?
“Yes we have. We feel Stephane Derenoncourt has done a great job in upping the quality since 2004, and hope that will be reflected in the rankings (the estate was demoted in 2006 – although since reinstated). But we are looking forward to the further improvements that we are going to be making. Right now we are in a learning and observation phase – we will begin serious work once we have all the information we need.”

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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