Sine Qua Non B-20 Syrah 2008
Syrah/Shiraz from California
This is a breathtaking set of wines from Sine Qua Non and Manfred Krankl. It's hard to say precisely to what degree a greater reliance on estate owned vineyards, generally cooler growing seasons over the last few years and a reduction in new oak are shaping these wines, but the bottom line is that Krankl is coaxing fruit of incomparable elegance from the sites he works with. The silkiness and polish of the tannins is breathtaking. I also had a chance to see numerous estate vineyards during my visit with Krankl and Cellar Master Jim Binns including the Cumulus vineyard that informs Krankl's newest project, Next of Kyn, which is reviewed separately. That said, there are fewer more perfect matches than Grenache and Syrah as farmed by Krankl in the Eleven Confessions vineyard, which is located in the Santa Rita Hills, one of the cooler spots in California's Central Coast. The wines that emerge from this site are often profound. The sheer drive for perfection and attention to detail at Sine Qua Non is something I have rarely witnessed anywhere else in the world.
The Wine Advocate - ""The 2008 Syrah B-20 is a cool, inward wine graced with layers of beautifully delineated, chiseled fruit. This is a distinctly mineral, precise style relative to the more outgoing 2009, but both are striking. Floral notes add lift as the finish turns explosive with a burst of dark fruit, tar, licorice and crushed rocks. This is one of the more understated wines readers are likely to come across from Sine Qua Non. It is gorgeous when given the time to open up. The B-20 is predominantly Syrah, with 6% Grenache and 2% Viognier. About half of the Grenache was fermented with whole clusters and the wine was aged in French oak (60% new) for 26 months. The vineyard sources are 52% Eleven Confessions, 18% Cumulus, 18% Bien Nacido and 12% White Hawk. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2023.""
International Wine Cellar - "Glass-staining purple. Highly aromatic nose combines blackberry, cassis, violet, truffle, graphite and cola, with a strong note of cracked pepper. Juicy, precise and shockingly delicate for a big boy (15.5% alcohol), with intense flavors of dark berry compote and candied violet. This has both weight, silkiness, and a strong, energizing core of minerality. Very suave on the back end, finishing with very suave tannins and superb lift."
Wine Spectator - "Fresh, rich and vibrant, with a medley of cranberry, spice, pepper, wild berry, blueberry and mineral notes. Full-bodied and supple in texture, ending with game meat and dried berry flavors supported by firm, spicy tannins. Drink now through 2020. 1,320 cases made."
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Sine Qua Non Winery
Sine Qua Non was created after the 1994 harvest of a Bien Nacido Syrah named “The Queen of Spades”. Winemaker Manfred Krankl feels strongly that each vintage is a completely unique wine and thus he gives each wine a unique name. He also creates the artwork for each new label himself. Previously, Manfred had made wines with Bryan Babcock and John Alban and still sources much of his fruit from Alban’s vineyard. The basic white wines have always been a white blend of Chardonnay, Roussanne and Viognier and a red wine based on Syrah plus Grenache. Sometimes there are small quantities of Rose and a Grenache-based red.
Sine Qua Non has its own winemaking facility in Ventura, California not far from the Santa Barbara vineyards where the fruit is sourced from. In the last few years Manfred and his wife, Elaine, have begun creating their own vineyards dedicated to Rhone varietals. Their winemaking philosophy is to work in very small batches, gravity flow, natural yeasts (unless a fermentation problem is anticipated), long lees aging for the whites and repeated racking for the reds to open them up. This is a modified explanation of a very dedicated and artistic approach to winemaking. The wines are simultaneously very rich and elegant, superbly balanced and thoroughly harmonious with food, never overwhelming. View all Sine Qua Non Wines
About Other CaliforniaView a map of Other California wineries
California has nearly 100 American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) and accounts for almost 90% of wine production in the United States. In our section of Other California, we include wines from smaller AVAs as well as wines from the California AVA. Here are a few smaller AVAs you may see on the label:
Livermore Valley AVA, located right outside of San Francisco and home to wineries such as Wente.
Lodi County AVA, an AVA further east of San Francisco and known for its excellent, old-vine Zinfandels.
San Francisco Bay AVA, a sprawling AVA that covers Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, to name a few. Wine that holds only the California AVA is typically a wine that includes grapes from a number of different AVAs, which leads to the general labeling of the wine as California. This does not denote the quality of the wine, only the diversity of where the grapes originate.
About CaliforniaIt's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
- Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
- Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
- Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
- Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.