2007 Grenache Dangerous Birds: This wine, which is scheduled to be released in several months, is 88% Grenache, 10% Syrah and 2% Viognier (36% whole clusters utilized), all from the 11 Confessions Vineyard. A whopper at 15.6% alcohol, this is the extended barrel-aged Grenache, spending 32 months in a combination of small oak casks as well as larger demi-muids. Absolutely magnificent, with incredible uplifted aromatics and great raspberry and black cherry fruit intermixed with blackberry, camphor, licorice and lavender, this wine is full-bodied, with super purity and a huge, massive mouthfeel as well as stunning texture and length. How Krankl was able to combine almost unbridled power with such extraordinary purity, definition and elegance is mind-boggling. This wine should drink well for at least 15+ years.
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.