2011 Dark Blossom Syrah Sine Qua Non

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Average critic rating : 99.0 points



The 2011 Syrah Dark Blossom showed even better from bottle than barrel. A blend of 84% Syrah, 8% Grenache, 4% Petite Sirah and the rest Roussanne and Petite Manseng, this beauty was fermented with 17% whole clusters and aged in equal parts new and used French oak. One of the shining successes in the vintage, it’s a full-bodied, concentrated and layered Syrah that has awesome aromatics of blackcurrants, Peking duck, pepper, licorice and charcuterie in its seamless, thrillingly pure profile. As with Manfred’s other 2011s, the tannins are certainly present, yet they’re sweet, polished and have no hard edges. Give this beauty 2-3 years in the cellar and enjoy bottles through 2031. ||These latest releases from Sine Qua Non and Next of Kyn are at the pinnacle of wine, and it’s simply impossible to taste through these and not be blown away. While I think the star of the show at the moment is the 2010 vintage, the 2011s aren’t far behind, and the 2012s should rival them as well. In addition, to give you an idea how these wines age, don’t miss the recent 2004 retrospective on these wines that was published at eRobertParker.com. We finished the tasting with Manfred’s Next of Kyn releases, and these are the strongest set of wines yet to come out under this label. The focus here is exclusively on his estate Cumulus Vineyard planted around the estate in Oakview.||Tel. (805) 649-8901; www.sinequanon.com eRobertParker.com.August, 2014

Sine Qua Non: The Importance

Sine Qua Non has emerged as arguable one of the most collectable fine wine producers on the planet; a Rhône-inspired Californian tour de force. Their fame exploded in the early 2000s, leading to what Robert Parker described as “an absolutely brilliant succession of true works of genius”, which has not abated since. On the global fine wine market, there are few who can touch Sine Qua Non in terms of sheer desirability and originality.


Robert Parker has called Sine Qua Non: “one of the world’s great wineries”, and it has earned a place alongside icons such as Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Leroy, Petrus and the first growths for its “compelling, singular and world-class wines that are like no other being produced on Planet Earth.”

Parker’s colleague Jeb Dunnuck concurs: “About as good as it gets across the board, these singular, incredible wines are the result of an obsessive attention to detail at all stages of the wine making process.” Antonio Galloni seconds the motion: “The sheer drive for perfection and attention to detail at Sine Qua Non is something I have rarely witnessed anywhere else in the world.”  And Jeff Leve seals it: “There is no winery on earth that competes with what Manfred and Elaine Krankl have done at Sine Qua Non for creativity… The wine is stunning young and with bottle age. There is nothing out there like it.”


Sine Qua Non: The Insight

Those looking to buy Sine Qua Non need to be fast and well connected, such is demand and rarity. Critic scores are consistently huge with the number of perfect 100 pointers from Wine Advocate extending well into double figures.


Staple Rhône varietals are used – Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Roussanne, Viognier and Chardonnay – but Sine Qua Non believe that each vintage is unique, they therefore produce different cuvées each year in tiny quantities. Each one is individually and idiosyncratically named, receiving new and unique label designs every time. The range is therefore diverse and extensive and the labels are works of art in their own right…


Robert Parker offers some broad-brush advice:  “In an ocean of mediocre wines, the SQN offerings are totally profound. They inspire and energise anyone who tastes them…. They produce California’s finest Grenache, one of the two or three best Syrahs and some of the top white varietal blends in addition to some utterly profound dessert wines.”


Wines are produced in tiny batches and released via tightly-controlled allocations through the domaine’s private mailing list, making the hard to come by. However, FINE+RARE’s extensive network can provide fleeting access to them before they are snapped up by collectors and aficionados.


Sine Qua Non: The Background

Born in Austria, Manfred Krankl moved to Los Angeles in California where he met Elaine, his now wife. The pair began to dabble in winemaking, supported by Bryan Babcock and John Alban in the early years, with the idea of making wines for their restaurant. But in the end the winemaking consumed all. Their winery was established in 1994 and the first official release, Queen of Spades 1994, has become highly collectable and vastly expensive. The rest of their wines have followed suit.


Sine Qua Non’s winemaking facility is located in Ventura County, not far from the Santa Barbara vineyards from which they source their fruit. Although some grapes are bought, much of the fruit comes from their own vineyards, which are as eclectically named as their wines: Eleven Confessions in Santa Rita Hills, Cumulus in Oak View, The Third Twin in Los Alamos, Molly Aïda in Tepusquet Canyon. Manfred Krankl’s winemaking techniques have been compared to Etienne Guigal’s, opting for small volume, natural yeasts, extended lees ageing for whites, repeat racking for reds and new oak. Sweet wines were produced with help from legendary Austrian winemaker Alois Kracher, hence their name: Mr K.


Sine Qua Non is a Latin term meaning a thing that is absolutely necessary. For all serious collectors, owning Sine Qua Non’s Central Coast AVA wines has become absolutely necessary.

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