2005 Alban "Pandora" Edna Valley Rhône Blend, 15.9% alcohol. 92% Grenache, 8% Syrah. “Curious? Open it up...” note on the back label. Pandora always one of my favorite Alban offering. Medium/dark ruby red in the stem with an explosive nose of cherries, berries, spices and tea leaves with just a hint of lilac/lavender/flowery background notes. Sweet marinated bing cherry palate with fresh cracked pepper and stewed currants and that telltale Alban tar. Creamy mouthfeel. Full bodied but not heavy or overbearing. Smooth tannins. Long, satisfying finish. Supposedly outside the drinking window, but I wouldn’t be in any hurry to open one. Quite a few years left in the tank. Appreciate the dedication on the bottle John. Big fan! — 18 days ago
2006 Sine Qua Non "The Hoodoo Man" White Blend
39% Roussanne, 31% Viognier and 30% Chardonnay. 15.8% alcohol. “There ain’t a horse that can’t be rode, there ain’t a man that can’t be throw’d” Yet another of my Sine Qua Non guilty pleasures. Similar to the 2009 “The Thrill Of Stamp Collecting” and the 2011 “Patine,” this is one of those Sine Qua Non wines that I find to be a might more compelling than the expert reviews. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why, but this one has always sort of tickled my fancy, and never fails to please. Ive always been rather fond of the perhaps Grant Wood, American Gothic inspired label. Now, some 12 years down the road, as with most of Manfred’s whites, the extra cellar time has just added nuance to this sexy effort. Lustrous, radiant gold in the stem, with a stunning bouquet of smoky, nutty peach cobbler with hints of white flowers lurking in the background. Tropical fruits and orange marmalade with a toasty, butterscotchy finish of substantial length. Absolutely wonderful acidity. Unctuous, oily texture that I treasure. Powerful and intense. Great balance. I like to taste great whites slightly warmer than cellar temperature, but I would say this one just got better and better with more air and as it warmed. Just beautiful. “Salud, chindon Mr. Krankl!”
— a month ago
Casual Sunday. 2012 Antica Terra “Angelicall,” 2012 Marcassin, Marcassin Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and, last but not least, 2013 Sine Qua Non ♂️Syrah. Angelicall is a full-throttle Rosé from Maggie. The Marcassin Chardonnay is THE best Chardonnay I’ve tasted in quite some time. SQN ♂️- um, it’s me here. Need you even ask? All exceptional, but that Marcassin.....WOW!!! — 3 months ago
2010 Greer Cabernet Sauvignon from Rutherford, Napa Valley. 4 hour decant, deep crimson hued, this wine has a killer explosive nose of dark fruits, cinnamon, baking spices, menthol and flint. Chocolate covered cherries, cocoa and espresso mid palate, with a touch of nutmeg. Moderate trademark Rutherford dusty tannins in just the right proportion. Dense and concentrated. Beautifully layered with a silky mouth feel, and a lingering finish. In this age of $400-$500+ Napa Cabs, this wine takes a back seat to none of them. I’m a fan. You da man Rob Greer! — 4 months ago
2008 Next of Kyn (Sine Qua Non) "Cumulus Vineyard No. 2" Central Coast Syrah. Pictured next to the inaugural vintage box, and documenting my disturbing inability to remove the cork in one piece, let’s begin with a quote from Manfred regarding the genesis of the brand: “The name is in reference to the fact that it is the next closest relative to SINE QUA NON, yet it is separate and different, and with its own personality, character and style. Implied is also a dose of hopefulness, of wishful thinking, that one of our five kids will someday take it over as his or her own.” (Unless my reverse adoption petition is granted, fingers crossed). The wines all emanate from Cumulus Vineyard, the Krankls’ first true estate vineyard. Most of the Syrah is planted on own-rooted, head-trained vines. The first three vintages were essentially Syrah-based, with some Grenache and Roussanne, all done with fully destemmed fruit. The wine spends around 30 months in French oak, with around 50% new oak. This particular vintage, which might very well be my favorite, is absolutely firing on all cylinders right now on its 10th Anniversary. So good in fact, that I will be looking to pick up a few more asap. 4 hour decant. Midnight black in the stem. Darker even than the 17th Nail from a week ago. Gorgeous bouquet of freshly baked, smokey blueberry pie cooling on the windowsill next to a vase of violets and lavender. Pleasing palate of sweet black cherry compote, licorice and Asian spices with just a hint of bacon fat. Lengthy, spicy finish. Beautiful structure. Lush and concentrated. I may need to add this to my guilty pleasures list as I don’t believe this was a critical standout. At least not by Manfred Krankl standards. Maybe the experts need to revisit?
— a month ago
2012 Cayuse "Bionic Frog" Walla Walla Valley Syrah. In honor of my finally having made the grade to be blessed to receive a Frog allocation from Mr. Baron, I thought I’d celebrate by pulling the cork on this beast which was gifted to me by the most generous and revered wine Connoisseur, the man with the palate I so very much respect, the Rake of the Left Coast, the right honorable Mr. Bill Bender (@Bill Bender) First off, I find the Bionic Frog in general to be one of the most hedonistic, completely over the top and playful expressions of Syrah on the planet which of course, places it squarely in my wheelhouse. Still the most unique wine in the Cayuse lineup, and arguably one of the most sought after Syrah’s around. And now on to this vintage in particular, which none other than the esteemed Jeb Dunnuck(the one reviewer who I find to have a palate most closely aligned with my own) described with the enticing phrase “flirts with perfection.” Opaque, impenetrable ink blue in the stem. Wild, typical stoney Cayuse aromatics of black olives, bacon fat and dark fruits with notes of violets and lavender. A combination savory/sweet palate with olive tapenade, mushrooms and tar combined with sweet black plums and blueberry compote. Super rich, lush mouth feel. Dense concentration. Amazingly pleasing salinity on the lengthy finish. A full-throttle Porsche Cup Car lap of Road America, complete with The Kink, wine experience. (A track day we need to reprise soon Chuck). Sensory overload in the best way possible! The Frog knows! — 2 months ago
Sine Qua Non 2012 “In the Abstract” White Blend.
In honor of the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend at the Red Bull Ring, and a 98 degree day in Chicago, I thought I’d open a little something from my favorite Austrian winemaker. 35%Chardonnay 32%Roussanne 17%Viognier 16%Petite Manseng. Hailing from Bien Nacido, Cumulus and Eleven Confessions vineyard, it spent just under 19 months in 48% used barrels (1-4 years old), 27% new French oak and the balance in concrete eggs. Beautiful deep, translucent gold in the stem. On the nose, fresh-cut white flowers, apricots and peaches with carmel corn and a killer buttery brioche note that just makes me smile. HUGE, full-throttled palate of those aforementioned honeyed apricots and peaches with some mint and spice notes. Finishes with a lingering touch of toasty oak. Viscous, unctuous and oily texture from the Roussanne component. Big, bold, and decadent., yet elegant and classy. For me, this wine is all about the nose and mouth feel. Good Lord, I do love and treasure these SQN whites. To my palate, they evolve and improve every bit as much as Manfred’s reds. They’re in a class by themselves. — 4 months ago
2005 Sine Qua Non "The 17th Nail in My Cranium" Sta. Rita Hills Syrah
Buckle your chinstraps folks because tonight we’re headed to the wine world equivalent of the summit of Mt. Everest. The absolute pinnacle in the Universe of wine for yours truly. The “it just don’t get any better than this” moment as far as grapes are concerned. Let me begin first with the name of this magic elixir. If memory serves, it was derived from a combination of the fact that this was the 17th Syrah produced in the Garage d’Or otherwise known as Sine Qua Non, and, in that same year, Manfred was felled by a rogue barrel requiring several staples to close the gash to his cranium, hence... "The 17th Nail in My Cranium"
The wine is a blend of 96.5% Syrah and 3.5% Viognier which was aged 38+ months prior to bottling. % alcohol. 4 hour decant at cellar temperature. Achromatic Raven black motor oil in my Zalto. Undoubtedly, the wines I find most compelling are of the “swirl, sniff and contemplate” variety, and this one might just set the benchmark. Explosive aromatic potpourri of blackberry jam, roasted coffee, fresh ground black pepper, graphite and spice with a faint floral arrangement lurking somewhere in the background. On the palate, sweet cherry compote and black currant with undertones of roasted game and black olives. A big, full bodied wine that’s light on its feet. A tightrope walker. A powerhouse with impeccable manners. Elegant and lithesome. A ballet dancer. Mikhail Nikolayevich Baryshnikov in his prime. Complex, with layers of flavors in beautiful, perfect harmony. Crosby, Stills & Nash singing “Suite Judy Blue Eyes.” The Beach Boys, “Good Vibrations.” Perfect balance. Pure, silky mouth feel. Immeasurable finish. And I mean that literally, as in it just continues on and on. Just utter perfection. A wine that is in fact so entirely perfect as to eliminate the need for a search for an alternative. The last word. To paraphrase The Bard, this wine “might (just) be the be-all and the end-all.”
— a month ago
2012 Cirq "Treehouse Vineyard" Russian River Pinot Noir from an amazing red-soiled Vineyard at an elevation of approximately 750 feet. I like to think of it as a more elegant Kosta Browne. Flowery, raspberry nose giving way to rose petal, cola, chocolate covered cherries and licorice on the mid palate. Vibrant acidity. Nice texture. Beautiful finish. Best showing to date, but I would say leave it in the cellar for a while. Built for aging, me thinks. Personally, I can’t wait to taste Michael’s new venture. Very talented winemaker. — 2 months ago
2000 Sine Qua Non “The Hussy” 100% Roussanne from the Stolpman and Alban vineyards. 14.9% alcohol. According to the back label, “Hussies are quite rare rare! There are only about 1400 of them.” At least that was true about 18 years ago. I suspect that Hussies are significantly more rare these days. Still my favorite SQN Wood boxed set, complete with strategically placed “Peep Hole” over the Magnum label. A label that somehow made it past the discerning eyes of BATF only one year after the same bureaucrats struck down “The Good Girl” which then subsequently became “The Boot” ((as in “the label got the boot”). Vibrant glistening gold with a nose of mangoes, peaches orange marmalade and white flowers. Still vibrant and decadent with that a honeyed apricot and fig mid palate with some smokey/toasty accents. Typical SQN lengthy finish. Stunning texture. Love that Roussanne glycerin-unctuosity. Just can’t get enough of these one-of-a-kind hedonistic whites from the Master. Happy 4th of July all you SQNers! — 3 months ago