2016 Sine Qua Non "Rätsel 16" Syrah, originally “Cypher 16,” renamed because of potential legal problems with the rock band? Not sure of the backstory on that one, but it’s pretty clear that Rätsel (enigma, mystery, puzzle, riddle) is simply the German word for Cypher (a secret or disguised way of writing; a code). The wine however, not the band, is a monster. Gargantuan really. Typical SQN nose, and black as a moon-free, starless night sky in the stem. Tonight’s photo should not to be confused with Katie Bouman’s Black Hole masterpiece, although no light can escape from either. Very tight upon opening, singing an aria 36 hours later. SUPER concentrated with unlimited upside potential. More detailed tasting note to come. Yet another stunner! — 5 years ago
2015 Kosta Browne Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, 14.3% alcohol. So I greatly prefer the SLH to the Russian River and the Sonoma Coast. Just seems more elegant and creamy to me. More in my wheelhouse. Very floral on the nose with lots of minty cherry on the palate. Finishes with a touch of sassafras. Bright acidity. Lovely really. And while l’m on the topic of Michael Browne, I vaguely remember an announcement on the last CIRQ release that Michael was starting his own “Browne Family” wine. I even remember clicking on a link to sign up. Now, nothing. Did I dream that whole scenario or can any of you wine aficionados help me out? — 5 years ago
2004 Sine Qua Non "Ode to E" Central Coast Grenache.
Gearing up for a major snowstorm here in Chicago. A great reason to pull the cork on greatness. On one of the best Grenache wines I’ve ever tasted. Heck, maybe THE best. If not first in it’s class, it definitely doesn’t take long to call the roll. Certainly one of my favorite wines, period. I love everything about it including the label: “A Love Forever In Bloom, Face With Tracks Of Life’s Attacks, Tattooed Scars Of History, Weathered Crust, Full Of Lust For That Rose Of Love For E.” The wine? The nose is a dreamy aromatic symphony of roses and raspberry compote. Also incense, pepper, graphite and a touch of smokey something off in the background somewhere. Beautiful. The palate is blast of sweet dark berry liqueur with that pepper and Asian spice creeping in on the backside. So lush. So complex. The finish? Intense, rather spicy and never ending. Never ending! As with all things Krankl, mind boggling balance between depth, complexity, raw power and utter weightless elegance. Simply put: Perfect. However you choose to define it. I think my favorite definition of perfection is from Coach Gary Gaines: “Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didnt let them down because you told them the truth. And that truth is you did everything you could. There wasnt one more thing you could've done.” Well Manfred can certainly look us all in the eye on this one! — 5 years ago
2016 Sine Qua Non "Dirt Vernacular" California Grenache. The blend is 78% Grenache, 11.5% Mourvedre, 7% Touriga Nacional and 3.5% Petite Sirah, dominated by estate fruit, but some 9% came from the Krankl's blocks at Bien Nacido Vineyard that are farmed to their specifications. 16% alcohol. So for me, it all started with “Incognito.” Greatest Grenache I’d ever tasted. Simply stunning and still one of my favorites. How do you top that one? Well then “The Inaugural” showed up. Phenomenal!Then it’s “Ode To E.” Y’all know I absolutely LOVE that wine! Oh but wait, here comes “Trouver L'Arène.” Exquisite! And just in case you missed them all, now there’s tonight’s selection. And I’m pleased to report that the streak continues. As I’ve mentioned previously several times, Grenache is quite possibly the most difficult and finicky grape. But what really sets SQN apart is the final blend. Simply stated, Manfred is a genius when it comes to blending. If you have one, feel free to pull the cork as this wine is absolutely open for business. About a 3 hour decant at cellar temperature, the nose is, as usual with SQN, mind blowing. Cherries, plums, pepper, teriyaki, kirsch and a bouquet of roses. Full-bodied, ultra-rich, multi-layered palate-staining ripe black fruit smorgasbord. Tremendous depth and purity. What a finish! The parade of excellence marches on! — 5 years ago
2013 Sami-Odi Syrah DW-OLD
Thought I’d open something from my favorite Australian producer, @fraser_mckinley, in honor of the start of the Formula 1 Season in Melbourne. (Nice start for my man Max Verstappen and the new Red Bull partnership with Honda). My first and only bottle of the 2013, decanted for 3 hours. 14.4% alcohol. It appears a deep, dark, black hole in the Zalto stem. Nose of dark berries, clove-and-cinnamon and dried fruits, with some forest floor and floral notes in the background. On the palate, rich dark fruits with a cedary tannin. Wonderful acidity. Full-bodied, fresh, rich and complex. Lengthy finish. My recollection is that Fraser told me that 2013 was a difficult year with the entire first fruit being destroyed by frost, and then there was a second set. Always amazes me that these challenging years always seem to produce the most memorable vintages. I’m a big fan of Fraser’s work. — 5 years ago
2003 Sine Qua Non "Omega-Shea Vineyard" Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. 15.5% alcohol. “The Last But Certainly Not The Least.” Y’all know my passion for all things Krankl, but I have a particular soft spot for the SQN Pinots. Maybe it’s because they are no more. But the coolest thing is that they’re not just a fond memory. They’re still making me smile every time I pull the cork. Tonight’s selection continues that trend. In the stem, not a hint of its age. Closer inspection reveals just a touch of amber on the edges. Otherwise crystal clear and light crimson. On the nose, an amazing potpourri. A Black fruit medley. Blackberries, black cherries, black cap raspberries. Chocolate/espresso notes with a hint of woody spices and forest floor. Just a whisper of rosemary. More than ample fruit on the palate with a pleasing nutmeg/dark chocolate chord along with hints of cedar and sandalwood. Sweet and somewhat syrupy but in a good way. Cherry liqueur comes to mind. Voluptuous really. Silky and elegant with a much longer than anticipated finish. Big and powerful, yet balanced and seamless. If you ever get the opportunity to try one of these SQN Pinots, don’t be put off by their age or reviewer scores. They’re unique with that magic Manfred touch. They were perhaps ahead of their time when compared with the big, full-bodied Pinots out there today. In my opinion they are terrific and all still singing! — 5 years ago
2005 Saxum "James Berry Vineyard - 44" Paso Robles Rhône Blend, WOW @punchpeddler, this is simply stunning! Doesn’t get much better! #saxum #saxumvineyards #justinsmith #rhonewine #rhoneblend #wine #winetasting #winelover #winery #winenight #wines #winestagram #winelovers #wineblogger #wineaddict #winetime #zalto #zaltoglass @zaltify #saxumvineyards — 5 years ago
2004 Cayuse "En Chamberlin" Walla Walla Valley Syrah Ex-Cellar 2018 Selection. 14.7% alcohol. Think bacon frying in the background as you pour fresh, warm blueberry compote over your pancakes while wearing your soft leather Moto jacket and you’ve nailed the nose. On the palate add some balsamic chocolate to that background of dark fruits and roasted game. Wonderful salinity with a silky texture. Lingering finish. Nice NCAA hoops selection. — 5 years ago
2001 Sine Qua Non "On Your Toes" California Syrah, 14.9% alcohol.
So a few weeks ago, I was pontificating about the SQN G.O.A.T. Syrah on an Jeb Dunnuck Instagram post af “Heart Chorea.” I suggested a 4-way tie among “Heart Chorea,” “Poker Face,” “JFTLOI” And “The 17th Nail.” I was sorely tempted to add “A Shot In The Dark” but then Mark Christensen mentioned adding “On Your Toes,” and I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d tasted it. So Mark, you’re responsible for tonight’s selection. Oh, and by the way, it’s now a 5-way tie because this wine is simply off the charts extraordinary. And I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record on this topic, but that nose!!! Filing the decanter just floods the cellar with a robust bouquet of hot blueberry pie, strawberry preserves, soy sauce, smoked meats, beef blood, Asian spice, white pepper and lavender. Once in the stem, add shaved truffles and mocha frappe to the mix. I remember once seeing a wine’s nose described as “feral” and I’m going to steal it here because it’s absolutely spot on! I wish I could share it because it’s simply mind blowing! Well worth the price of admission on its own. On the palate, all of the above with notes of cedar, caramel and maple syrup. Pure silk. Great depth and complexity. Opulent and powerful yet light on its feet and positively elegant. Possibly the most hedonistic wine I’ve ever tasted! At least that’s how I feel tonight. In the moment. Perfect confluence of time and place. Endless finish. How long can these SQN beauties continue to sing? There’s no end in sight as far as this guy’s concerned. And I don’t usually do this here, but if anyone out there is sitting on a Magnum they’d be willing to part with, I’m extremely interested. Sine Qua Non. My magnificent obsession! — 5 years ago
Sami-Odi Baby Tui 2012. Here it is folks. The one that sold me on Mr. Fraser McKinley. The bottle that confirmed the greatness. Every time I open Baby Tui, I say the same thing: “Best showing to date.” And its true! It just keeps getting better. Makes me reluctant to open another one because I’m running out! Years to go. But it’s so great RIGHT NOW! 4 hour decant. 14.9% alcohol. Room-filing aromatics. Cherries, raspberries, black pepper, grilled/charred meats and lavender. Same notes on the palate with powdery tannins. Wonderful texture. Dark and brooding yet rather lithe. Bold and well-structured. Classy and elegant. Long finish. Keep ‘em coming @Fraser McKinley — 5 years ago