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“The greatest Quintet ever? Certainly in my lifetime! 99 rating.”Nick Stock
“Mesmerizingly silky … 99 rating.”James Halliday
“With its distinctive character and evocative scent of place, it is a profound hallmark of Yarra Valley terroir.”Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine
Since 1990, Langton’s Classification has been Australia’s equivalent to the Bordeaux 1855 Classification. A ranking of Australia’s greatest and most sought-after wines, it has become nearly as influential as its 19th-century predecessor. And it, too, is based on market values.
Forget that only 136 Australia wines earn a place in the ranking. Also forget that just 22 wines are in the top “Exceptional” class. Unless you’re an Australian wine fanatic, all you really need to know are the top five, which are in essence Australia’s First Growths.
The five range from the very famous (Grange and Hill of Grace) to the very obscure (Wendouree). Only slightly more famous than Wendouree (at least in America) is Mount Mary Quintet, the only Bordeaux-inspired wine included in Langton's top five.
Like Wendouree, Quintet has largely eluded us over the years. But, finally, this past week we secured our own prized, direct allocation. And to begin our work with this coveted wine, we’re privileged to start with the vintage many consider to be Quintet’s greatest ever: 2018.
Now, you’re probably thinking that in such rarified company, and given the advance press for the 2018, you’ll be paying a hefty price and be sharply limited on what you can buy. That’s the magic of our direct access: while our allocation lasts, you can buy 2018 Mount Mary Quintet for an absolutely astonishing $89.95 a bottle.
And we can offer original 6-bottle cases at just $525 ($87.50/btl), with an incredibly generous limit of four cases per client. All pristine. But you’ll need to hurry.
Shades of Max Schubert
You may have heard the story about how Penfolds’ Max Schubert was inspired to make Grange in the early 1950s following a trip to Bordeaux. Much the same thing happened at Mount Mary in the early 1970s. After several trips to France, founders John and Marli Middleton went in search of a terroir where they could make Australia’s first great Bordeaux-styled wine.
They found what they were looking for on a north-facing slope at Lilydale, in the heart of the Yarra Valley in southeastern Australia’s Victoria state. The Yarra’s close proximity to the bay of Port Phillip and the Bass Strait beyond makes for a climate cooled regularly by sea breezes.
In 1972, the Middletons planted their site to 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% each of Malbec and Petit Verdot. Today, the dry-farmed vines produce low yields of concentrated fruit of great complexity and fine structure at low alcohol levels. And so Quintet bears more than a passing resemblance to the great Bordeaux that inspired the Middletons a half century ago.
Today, third-generation winemaker Sam Middleton continues to make Quintet simply, much as his grandfather John did, with a cool, two-week fermentation and maceration, followed by 22 months aging in oak barrels of various sizes and ages. Twenty five percent of the wine is aged in foudre and 30% in new barrique; the balance is aged in older small barrels.
With the older vines producing fruit of greater depth and transparency to the terroir, Quintet is greater than ever. And, at least in the opinions of Nick Stock and James Halliday, two of today’s most knowledgeable voices for Australian wine, the 2018 may well be the greatest Quintet to date.
Vibrantly expressive and seamlessly harmonious, the 2018 Quintet is delicious now, yet poised to develop even greater depth and nuance with age. It is the complete fulfillment of John Middleton’s vision.
At $89.95 a bottle and $525 per 6-btl case, this is one of those collecting opportunities that will come along rarely in your life. Please don't be asleep at the wheel.
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