The wines of Sine Qua Non are made by the eccentric Manfred Krankle in the outer suburbs of Ventura California, in a winery described by Robert Parker as "a set scene from the movie Mad Max". Each is produced in minute quantities from impossibly low yields, bought in from trusted vignerons in the central coast area. With little estate fruit to speak of and constantly changing tastes, Manfred Krankle rarely makes the same wine twice, prefering to be able to chop and change vineyards as he sees fit. While this is an unorthodox approach for a quality producer it doesn't seem to affect the quality of his wines, which regularly receive Parker scores in the high 90's, very often reaching the mythical 100 mark. As Krankl himself says, "People buy Sine Qua Non, they don't give a toot where it's from".
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Sine Qua Non Reserve Grenache Pajarito del Amor 2016
“The 2016 Grenache Pajarito Del Amor is a single-vineyard wine—a barrel selection from the Eleven Confessions estate vineyard in Sta. Rita Hills. “This vineyard is by far our coolest,” Manfred said. “Sometimes we don’t harvest this vineyard until November. The wines from here have a lot of structure and presence. The soil is a heavy clay, so the wines can be pretty muscular.”
I asked Manfred what he considers when he is looking to make a single-vineyard expression. “I pick out the wines that can have longer barrel aging,” he replied. “The wine has to be meaningfully dense and balanced. I try to make the selection early on, when the wines go into barrel, to decide which barrels they will go into. I take thicker barrels from Seguin Moreau so that the wine evolves longer and slower.”
Indeed, this wine spent 38 months in barrel, which is amazing when you consider how vibrant and fresh this Grenache is, also knowing how easily Grenache can oxidize. Fifty-four percent of the wine was aged in large (600-liter) new French oak, while the remainder was aged in used vessels of various ages and sizes.
Composed of 85.4% Grenache, 7.1% Petite Sirah, 6.9% Syrah and 0.6% Viognier, employing 56% whole cluster, the nose of this opaque, garnet-purple colored uber-Grenache completely explodes with a candied violets, mandarin peel and Indian spices perfume, giving way to a core of bursting-ripe red berries—redcurrants, Morello cherries and raspberries—with an undercurrent of earth, earth and more sweet, fragrant earth. The numbers are telling me this is a full-bodied wine (16.9% alcohol), but the palate is deceptively ethereal, possessing more of a medium to full-bodied feel, thanks in part to bags of well-integrated freshness and fantastic harmony, with soft, silt-like tannins, finishing with loads of savory layers and a fragrant, floral breeze. Yowza, that’s good. 916 cases, 228 magnums and 30 double magnums were made.
p.s. – I thought I had recognized the reference to “Pajarito del Amor”, so I had a look in “The Art of Sine Qua Non”, Manfred Krankl’s book, and in the 2010 release section, there is this: “P.S.: Haven’t given you a music recommendation for a long time. So maybe while you are placing your order you may want to have a little background music. Listen to the lovely Carla Morrison and her song, “Pajarito del Amor” (that little bird of love). For some reason it seems fitting.” 2022 – 2042
100 Points, Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate, Aug 2020