Jean-Marc Quarin was born in 1955 in the Châteauneuf du pape appellation. His grandparents
were winegrowers, in Italy on his father's side and in the Languedoc-Roussillon region
on his mother's side.
As a teenager, Jean-Marc spent all his holidays next to Carcassonne (Corbières region),
where he picked his first grapes. After high school, he decided to become a special
education teacher. His parents moved to Arcachon and he studied at the University
After graduation, at the age of 25, Jean-Marc Quarin decided to take advantage of
being in one of the world's finest wine regions to take his first wine appreciation
course. "I wanted to see if I would continue to value the wines my family
had taught me to like even after training my palate".
In 1984-1985, he took a course at the Faculty of Oenology "to learn about taste
defects in wine" and obtained a degree in wine tasting with distinction. He also
received practical winemaking experience at Domaine de Chevalier in Léognan during
the 1985 vintage. While at this famous estate, he became familiar with the leading
dry white Bordeaux at the time and learned from Claude Ricard, a great partisan
of balance and tannic elegance in red wines. Jean-Marc took part in the tasting
to constitute the final blend of the 1984 vintage with Emile Peynaud. "I
remember that Peynaud recommended fining twice to smooth out the rough
edges of this wine totally dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon. It went on to become
one of the finest 1984s in all Bordeaux".
In 1989, Jean-Marc Quarin received his degree in education science,
which involved writing a dissertation on teaching people how to taste.He then decided
to create Bordeaux Quintessence.
“Bordeaux Quintessence represents the period which enabled me to identify the
enormous wealth of taste of Bordeaux wines. I became able to identify the specific
tastes which come from this region and understand what differentiates one Bordeaux
wine from another, and then what their differences are compared with other French
wines and those from other countries wine critic when I stopped Bordeaux
Quintessence in 1998 in order to set up the Carnets de Dégustations, an independent
guide for the discerning wine lover, of which I am both the writer and the editor".
One of Jean-Marc's major strong points is the fact that he is based in Bordeaux.
This enables him to follow the situation there closely, taste the new wines when
they are very young, anticipate on their quality, and discover the most talented
winegrowers. Indeed, "a wine's potential depends on what happens in the vineyard".
For instance, barely one month after the harvest of vintage 2000, Jean-Marc Quarin
published an article announcing the excellence of the vintage, even indicating Château
Margaux and Cheval Blanc as the imminent stars. He did not mistake the strong tannins
of 1994 for those of a great vintage. In 1995, he hailed the vintage in spite of
the rains in September. He realised very early the exceptional quality of the Cabernet
Sauvignon in the Médoc in 1996 while in 1998, he was the first to point out the
outstanding level of the Pomerols.
In 98, the press recognised him as a gifted taster and writer, comparing him to
the most famous in his field.
To help consumers find their way in the world of wine, Jean-Marc Quarin shares his
tasting notes and his observations through his publications and training courses,
as well as through the many conferences he is invited to world-wide. He also set
up an organisation which offers customised wine tours. "As a matter of fact, says
Jean-Marc Quarin, I use the values my first work taught me, such as humanity,
sensitivity and good teaching methods, to explain in a simple manner about
wine and its world, its taste and its subtleties."
Today, in 2007, Jean-Marc Quarin has written over 2 800 pages about Bordeaux wines
and his unique data base contains more than 23 000 tasting comments.
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Wine scoring system
The scale I use for the scores in my tasting notes in English is based on a 100 point system and on a 20 point system for my French tasting notes.
The scale is used to indicate quality and the score itself refers to a specific quality on this scale. It gives an absolute indication,
and not a relative one, so that it can be used to compare different growths, different vintages and different appellations.
The tasting comment gives a description of the taste. This description supplements the information given by the score to help
you decide which wine suits your personal taste best, especially when you hesitate between two wines with the same score.
Scores lower than 70.
These scores indicate wines with oenological deficiencies and/or distinctly unpleasant wines.
Scores between 70 and 83.
Scores given to insignificant wines which mainly leave you with a feeling of dissatisfaction.
Scores between 84 and 86: Good Wines.
When a wine reaches a score of 84/86, it has risen above the anonymous, mass produced wines. For lesser growths,
wines with such scores are very desirable. For a great growth, it means that the wine is not at its best, which
can be due to natural causes (weak or medium vintages) and/or to human factors (a certain lack of care in the work,
whether in the vineyards or in the winery).
Scores between 87 and 89: Very Good Wines.
Wines in this range have a well defined character due to their nice body, pleasant taste, elegance and good balance.
They suit consumers with high standards and can be kept up to 5 or 10 years after their year of birth.
Scores between 90 and 95: Excellent Wines.
These scores are attributed to wines which are powerful and refined at the same time, offering complexity and a deep taste.
They are certainly worth keeping at least 10 years in the bottle so as to enjoy the most voluptuous sensations they can develop.
Yet, remembering that only good young wines will result in good old wines, I think you should not feel bad about trying them at
an earlier age. On the contrary, if you do so, you will have the joy to discover the variety of charms these wines offer at
Scores between 96 and 100: Exceptional Wines.
Here we find the Nec plus Ultra of all wines. They are powerful, complex, rich, subtle, and refined at the same time, with a very
specific and original expressiveness (which constitutes their pedigree) and they are endowed with an immensely long ageing potential
(20 to 50 years and more). These rare wines will impress several generations of wine lovers and they establish the reference points
in the world heritage of wine tastes.