On Friday, the Wine Advocate released its newest report and most notably Lisa Perrotti-Brown has awarded Sin Qua Non’s non EBAs their first joint hundred points, a remarkable feat. It is remarkable for several reasons: the perfect scores have previously been reserved for the great vintages of the EBAs (Extended Barrel Aged). Moreover, this is the first year that the editor, Perrotti-Brown, has taken over the reins on SQN, who is considered a particularly strict scorer. As such, for both the non EBAs to achieve the 100 point mark represents a huge discount to their EBA counter parts, which with their perfect scores, cost significantly more.
Sine Qua Non make less than 4,000 cases a year, split between numerous wines, some spending 24 months in barrel, others given extra barrel age, spending 40 months in oak. Each sells out 10 times over on their mailing list and rises in price quickly, each awarded near perfect scores. To date Parker has awarded fourteen 100 pointers to the EBAs, in this regard it is in a league of its own and is the most coveted Californian wine. The perfect scoring 2014 non EBAs add even greater prestige, a veritable cherry on top of their already incredible record. Each year, Sine Qua Non release a Syrah and Grenache dominant wine, with a different name every year. In 2014, these wines are called Shakti and Piranha Waterdance. The Shakti is made from Grenache and the Piranha Waterdance, from Syrah. We are delighted to be able to offer a starter pack of each, one loose bottle of the Shakti and one loose bottle of the Piranha Waterdance for £440, £220 per bottle. We can also offer these in a case of three bottles of each for £1,320 per 6×75. This represents incredible value when compared to the price of the EBAs and even more so compared to most 100 point Californian wines, which start at double the price.
In 2014 the Shakti is crafted with 88% Grenache, 6% Mourvèdre, 4% Petite Sirah and 2% Touriga Nacional. Production was just 1,199 cases, along with 600 magnums. Piranha Waterdance, is a blend of 81% Syrah, 8% Petite Sirah, 6% Mourvèdre, 4% Touriga Nacional and 1% Graciano. 1,839 cases were made, again with 600 magnums. We expect these to be exhausted very quickly, with the market keen to own this pair of perfect scoring non EBAs.
Sine Qua Non was created in 1994 by Manfred Krankl, an Austrian émigré, as a hobby. The reception for this wine named ‘Queen of Spades’ was extraordinary and in 1995 he released the ‘Queen of Hearts’, of which only 24 cases were made: a bottle sold in auction in 2014 for $45,000.
The winemaking facility is based in Ventura, close to Santa Barbara, where the grapes are grown. The wines are often compared to Screaming Eagle and Harlan, however Sine Qua Non focuses on Grenache and Syrah, although Mourvedre, Rousanne and Viognier play a supporting role. Manfred is a Rhone Ranger at heart, focused on creating what he describes as sexy wines which are peerlessly rich, elegant, harmonious and complex. Manfred works with tiny batches, passed through a gravity flow and only starts fermentation with natural yeasts. It is challenging to describe a bottle of Sine Qua Non, it has to be experienced. However, Sine Qua Non is a wine many collectors claim is an essential element in their cellar and the name, which means ‘absolutely necessary’ haughtily suggests just that.
Most wineries focus on a single wine with a single label, to achieve shelf recognition, so people know what to look for. However, Sine Qua Non seldom makes it onto a shelf, few collectors will part with a bottle. Manfred strongly believes that each vintage is completely different and as such each wine should have a unique name.
Sine Qua Non Grenache Shakti 2014
100 points, Lisa Perotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate
The 2014 Grenache Shakti is blended of 88% Grenache, 6% Mourvèdre, 4% Petite Sirah and 2% Touriga Nacional, coming 51% from the Cumulus (Estate) Vineyard, 18% from The Third Twin (Estate) Vineyard, 9.5% from Bien Nacido Vineyard and 21.5% for the Eleven Confessions (Estate) Vineyard. It was produced using 42% whole cluster and aged for around 21 months in French oak, 6% new (bottled June 21, 2017). It offers up a deep garnet-purple color and notes of dried Mediterranean herbs, dusty earth, Chinese five spice and rose petals over a core of red currants, mulberries, red plums and black raspberries, plus a waft of chocolate covered cherries. Full-bodied, decadently concentrated and yet very, very pretty in the mouth, it delivers incredibly fine-grained, ripe tannins and wonderful freshness, finishing on a persistent—totally disarming—perfumed red fruit note. 1,199 cases of 750 milliliter bottles and 600 magnums were made.
Sine Qua Non Syrah Piranha Waterdance 2014
100 points, Lisa Perotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate
Blended of 81% Syrah, 8% Petite Sirah, 6% Mourvèdre, 4% Touriga Nacional and 1% Graciano, sourced from 34% The Third Twin, 35% Eleven Confessions and 31% Cumulus (all estate vineyards), the provocative, inky purple colored 2014 Syrah Piranha Waterdance was made using 26% whole cluster and hits the scent scene with exuberant, pure crème de cassis, blackberry cordial and blueberry coulis notes with hints of espresso, licorice, garrigue and menthol, plus a gorgeous underlying perfume of red roses. The full-bodied palate is oh-so-elegant and pretty, revealing very finely pixelated tannins that beautifully frame the almost electric intensity, culminating in an epically long, licorice and chocolate-laced finish. Too stunning for mere words and rude to even try—just drink it. 1,839 cases and 600 magnums were produced.
Sine Qua Non Grenache Shakti & Syrah Piranha Waterdance 2014
6×75 - £1,320 IB
Special Pack: One Bottle Each 2×75 - £440 IB
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