RP 94 to 96 - 2009 Grenache Upside Down: There will be 1050 cases of this blend of 84% Grenache, 11% Syrah and the reappearance of a little Mourvedre (5%). Seventy-two percent came from the 11 Confessions estate vineyard, 22% from the Cumulus estate vineyard (the source for Next of Kyn) and the balance from the Bien Nacido Vineyard. It is a big wine at 15.7% alcohol and seems to show surprising amounts of tree bark and mushroom notes for the tiny quantity of Mourvedre. It is structured, dense, quite closed, and (obviously, this being a barrel sample) not as exciting as the wines tend to be from bottle. It is a more earthy, French style of Grenache from Krankl, with a more restrained personality, which I think is in keeping with the vintage character.
The conclusions I came to about this tasting may seem obvious just by reading the tasting notes. People forget that as famous as Sine Qua Non and both Elaine and Manfred Krankl have become over the last 15 years, their wines really only began to hit full world-class qualitative levels at the turn of the last century (2000). The vineyard sources have largely changed from Alban, Stolpman, Bien Nacido, Shadow Canyon and White Hawk Vineyards to primarily estate vineyards Cumulus Vineyard in Ventura County and 11 Confessions Vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills. In the future, Krankl’s newest vineyard in Alisos Canyon will be an additional component part. His meticulous craftsmanship and phenomenal attention to detail, both in the vineyard and in the winery, have been increasingly noticeable over the last decade. He seemed to hit full stride about eight or nine years ago, and what has unfolded since then is an absolutely brilliant succession of true works of genius, both in his expressive, sometimes slightly abstract artwork on the labels, to the meticulously crafted wood boxes in which the wines are housed. Of course, the most important thing of all, the actual wine itself, is both the beginning as well as the end for consumers, and where 100% of my focus and judgement are centered. Grenache, as Krankl would be the first to say, is by far the most challenging grape varietal to make majestic wine from, and unequaled in difficulty by any other grape in the world except Nebbiolo. That’s why we see so little of it from great terroirs. High quality Grenache exists in northern Spain, southern France, parts of southern Italy and Sardinia, and in southern Australia, but rarely in California. This makes Krankl’s achievement all the more remarkable. Regarding the article’s title, “Wasted” – I was so elated (by their quality) as well as depressed (because I couldn’t drink all of these elixirs) that it seemed as if too much wine had been “wasted.” On a light-hearted note, my condition once I finished the academic part of the tasting could have been described as “wasted” by those who still hold to the notion that alcohol is the demon drink.