2004 Sine Qua Non "Ode to E" Central Coast Grenache.
Gearing up for a major snowstorm here in Chicago. A great reason to pull the cork on greatness. On one of the best Grenache wines I’ve ever tasted. Heck, maybe THE best. If not first in it’s class, it definitely doesn’t take long to call the roll. Certainly one of my favorite wines, period. I love everything about it including the label: “A Love Forever In Bloom, Face With Tracks Of Life’s Attacks, Tattooed Scars Of History, Weathered Crust, Full Of Lust For That Rose Of Love For E.” The wine? The nose is a dreamy aromatic symphony of roses and raspberry compote. Also incense, pepper, graphite and a touch of smokey something off in the background somewhere. Beautiful. The palate is blast of sweet dark berry liqueur with that pepper and Asian spice creeping in on the backside. So lush. So complex. The finish? Intense, rather spicy and never ending. Never ending! As with all things Krankl, mind boggling balance between depth, complexity, raw power and utter weightless elegance. Simply put: Perfect. However you choose to define it. I think my favorite definition of perfection is from Coach Gary Gaines: “Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didnt let them down because you told them the truth. And that truth is you did everything you could. There wasnt one more thing you could've done.” Well Manfred can certainly look us all in the eye on this one! — a month 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?
— 5 months 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! — 6 months ago
2003 Sine Qua Non "Omega-Shea Vineyard" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. 15.5% alcohol. “The Last But Certainly Not The Least.” Y’all know my passion for all things Krankl, but I have a particular soft spot for the SQN Pinots. Maybe it’s because they are no more. But the coolest thing is that they’re not just a fond memory. They’re still making me smile every time I pull the cork. Tonight’s selection continues that trend. In the stem, not a hint of its age. Closer inspection reveals just a touch of amber on the edges. Otherwise crystal clear and light crimson. On the nose, an amazing potpourri. A Black fruit medley. Blackberries, black cherries, black cap raspberries. Chocolate/espresso notes with a hint of woody spices and forest floor. Just a whisper of rosemary. More than ample fruit on the palate with a pleasing nutmeg/dark chocolate chord along with hints of cedar and sandalwood. Sweet and somewhat syrupy but in a good way. Cherry liqueur comes to mind. Voluptuous really. Silky and elegant with a much longer than anticipated finish. Big and powerful, yet balanced and seamless. If you ever get the opportunity to try one of these SQN Pinots, don’t be put off by their age or reviewer scores. They’re unique with that magic Manfred touch. They were perhaps ahead of their time when compared with the big, full-bodied Pinots out there today. In my opinion they are terrific and all still singing! — 4 months ago
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! — 5 months 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!”
— 6 months 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. — 6 months ago
Sami-Odi Baby Tui 2012. Here it is folks. The one that sold me on Mr. Fraser McKinley. The bottle that confirmed the greatness. Every time I open Baby Tui, I say the same thing: “Best showing to date.” And its true! It just keeps getting better. Makes me reluctant to open another one because I’m running out! Years to go. But it’s so great RIGHT NOW! 4 hour decant. 14.9% alcohol. Room-filing aromatics. Cherries, raspberries, black pepper, grilled/charred meats and lavender. Same notes on the palate with powdery tannins. Wonderful texture. Dark and brooding yet rather lithe. Bold and well-structured. Classy and elegant. Long finish. Keep ‘em coming @Fraser McKinley — 4 months ago
Sami-Odi Hoffmann Dallwitz Syrah 2016. This wine is a beast and will benefit greatly from some cellar time, but I can’t seem to keep my hands off. A triple decant along with 6 hours in the decanter at cellar temperature. I should have poured it on a cookie sheet with a couple of industrial fans blowing on it. All that said, the wine is spectacular and reminds me of my favorite Sami-Odi, “Baby Tui.” @Fraser McKinley. The Manfred Krankl Of Australia! What more can I say? — 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.”
— 5 months ago