Saturday, August 14, 2010

True love from Sine-Qua-Non

I remember tasting through the barrels of syrahs and grenaches with Manfred Krankl in 2000. To taste with Manfred is always one of the highlights of my trips in Central Coast. Most of the winemakers I meet are of course very passionate about their wines and all there is to know and talk about from the birth of the grapes until the wine is bottled and its life after that. So is Manfred Krankl too, but even more!
Although the wines from Sine-Qua-Non are never shy, Manfred himself is surprisingly modest when talking about his wines. One quite interesting detail in his strictly focused ambition is to taste all wines blind (even the barrel samples) to be completely free in his mind and never favor any vineyard source, particular lot or clone. Therefore all barrels are given fantasy names instead of the usual information regarding grape variety, clone and vineyard or even block source (so does his former winemaker Maggie Harrison at her great winery Antica Terra in Oregon).
During the tasting in 2000, we came to a few barrels I thought were so great that I had to ask Manfred if they were to be bottled separately (they came from Alban Vineyard and White Hawk Vineyard). He told me he was of course quite happy with these wines, but that they were not complete on their own. He compared each barrel with a singular instrument – only when you put them together, there will be an orchestra. Even though many of the single barrels at Sine-Qua-Non seems to be almost perfect – at least, that’s my impression after all the barrel tastings I’ve done with Manfred Krankl over the years – it’s in the blend the last part of the magic is created. Thus the Sine-Qua-Non wines are always blends from multiple sources, and therefore carry the entry level designation of just “California”.
The result of the blending from the barrels I tasted in 2000, ended up in the 2002 Just For The Love Of It. For me, this wine was love at first sight, and has always been a benchmark for my dedication and love of Sine-Qua-Non.

2002 Just For The Love Of It / 98-100 p
This vintage, the final blend was 96% Syrah and two percent each of Mourvèdre och Viognier, and they were sourced from (almost equal parts) Alban Vineyard in Edna Valley, Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Maria Valley and Stolpman Vineyard in Santa Ynez Valley, with small amounts from the magnificent White Hawk Vineyard (that I fell in love with) and Shadow Canyon.
I’ve tasted this wine on several occasions over the years, and a part from the bottles I’ve poured at my house they’ve all been tasted blind. I most of the cases, I gave the wine a perfect 100 point score, in some cases 98 or 99 points, hence the spread of score above. From being a very dense, lush, ripe and slightly spicy wine in its early years, still with a tremendous finesse, it has now turned into a more complex and silky wine. Still it offers the intensity it used to, it’s loaded with ripe and dark fruit, but it seems to be less "sweet" today. The lovely notes of violets I found in the young wine are still here, as well as sweet notes of expensive oak barrels (they have always been well integrated). On the palate, its ripe och silky, intense and with just some warmth of the alcohol which doesn’t disturb me at all since the taste is so rich and lingering. There is still enough glycerol to give the wine that seductive, silky and just lovely texture, and somewhere inside all of the good stuff this wine offers, the first notes of secondary aromas are beginning to speak. When I compare my tasting notes over the years, I’ve noticed one common thing that’s worth mention … give the wine air before enjoying it, at least 30-40 minutes in a decanter.
Drink it 2010-2018.

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