0 immediate, 2 marketplace
Average critic rating : 97.0 points
Sine Qua Non’s 2008 Grenache Estate The Duel boasts extraordinary richness, power and sheer depth. Tobacco, leather, mint and spices are woven together in this large-scaled Grenache. There is plenty of intensity here, but the 2008 has just a touch less aromatic definition than the very finest wines at Sine Qua Non. I imagine some of that may be the result of extended aging in oak. The 2008 is 82% Grenache, 14% Syrah, 2% Viognier and 1% Roussanne, all from the Eleven Confessions Vineyard in Santa Rita Hills. A portion of the Grenache was fermented using whole clusters. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2023. ||Manfred Krankl calls 2011 the most consistently cold year he has ever seen from start to finish, although he adds that every year since 2008 has been cooler than normal. Unlike 2010, there were no heat spikes or even hot days in 2011. A bit of frost in April reduced tiny yields even more, but in retrospect that was a saving grace, as a full crop might never have ripened under the conditions of the year. Vintage 2010 was marked by a late frost that mostly affected Grenache by reducing yields. The rest of the vintage saw quite a bit of rain along with heat spikes during the summer, which produced big, bold wines. Krankl describes 2009 as a vintage that was shaping up to be great, until the rains arrived at the end of the growing season. With one exception, the 2009s are just as sexy and silky as they were last year. Unfortunately, the 2009 Syrah Estate No Name as of Yet was in no mood to be evaluated, so I will have to wait for another opportunity to taste it. In addition to these wines, I also tasted about a dozen library wines that reconfirmed my opinion, stated last year, that the Sine Qua Non wines have gained in elegance and refinement with the gradual move towards estate-owned vineyards. Sine Qua Non fans will find a lot to get excited about with these current and upcoming releases. I also urge readers to check out Manfred and Elaine Krankl’s newest project, Next of Kyn, also reviewed in these pages, and Sine Qua Non’s new website, which gives consumers a rare look at one of this country’s most compelling estates.||Tel. (805) 649-8901 Wine Advocate.August, 2012
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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