Sine Qua Nonís 2008 Grenache Estate The Duel boasts extraordinary richness, power and sheer depth. Tobacco, leather, mint and spices are woven together in this large-scaled Grenache. There is plenty of intensity here, but the 2008 has just a touch less aromatic definition than the very finest wines at Sine Qua Non. I imagine some of that may be the result of extended aging in oak. The 2008 is 82% Grenache, 14% Syrah, 2% Viognier and 1% Roussanne, all from the Eleven Confessions Vineyard in Santa Rita Hills. A portion of the Grenache was fermented using whole clusters. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2023.
Manfred Krankl calls 2011 the most consistently cold year he has ever seen from start to finish, although he adds that every year since 2008 has been cooler than normal. Unlike 2010, there were no heat spikes or even hot days in 2011. A bit of frost in April reduced tiny yields even more, but in retrospect that was a saving grace, as a full crop might never have ripened under the conditions of the year. Vintage 2010 was marked by a late frost that mostly affected Grenache by reducing yields. The rest of the vintage saw quite a bit of rain along with heat spikes during the summer, which produced big, bold wines. Krankl describes 2009 as a vintage that was shaping up to be great, until the rains arrived at the end of the growing season. With one exception, the 2009s are just as sexy and silky as they were last year. Unfortunately, the 2009 Syrah Estate No Name as of Yet was in no mood to be evaluated, so I will have to wait for another opportunity to taste it. In addition to these wines, I also tasted about a dozen library wines that reconfirmed my opinion, stated last year, that the Sine Qua Non wines have gained in elegance and refinement with the gradual move towards estate-owned vineyards. Sine Qua Non fans will find a lot to get excited about with these current and upcoming releases. I also urge readers to check out Manfred and Elaine Kranklís newest project, Next of Kyn, also reviewed in these pages, and Sine Qua Nonís new website, which gives consumers a rare look at one of this countryís most compelling estates.