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".
Sine Qua Non Reserve Syrah Subir 2016
“The 2016 Syrah SUBIR (meaning to rise or go up) 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.”
A blend of 89.7% Syrah, 4.6% Grenache, 2.5% Petite Sirah and 3.2% Viognier, this wine was made using 44% whole cluster. It was then reared for 38 months in barrel. Eighty-two percent of the wine was aged in new, French oak, while the remainder was aged in used barrels (one to five years old).
Very deep purple-black, it comes bounding out of the glass with precociously profound notes of baked blackberries, plum preserves, blueberry pie, tilled earth and lilacs plus tobacco leaf, wild sage, truffles and espresso nuances. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is tautly structured, strutting a firm backbone of rounded tannins and fantastic freshness supporting the muscular, tightly wrapped layers, finishing with epic length and loads of minerally fireworks. 932 cases made.”
99 Points, The Wine Advocate