Sine Qua Non Dirt Vernacular Grenache 2016
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
I called the 2016 Grenache Dirt Vernacular a perfect wine last year, and it’s still straight-up heavenly stuff that tops out on my scale this year. A blend of 78% Grenache, 11.5% Mourvèdre, 7% Touriga Nacional, and the rest Petite Sirah, it comes mostly from the Eleven Confessions Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills yet also includes fruit from the Third Twin, Cumulus, Bien Nacido, and Molly Aida vineyards. Aged 23 months in 38% new French oak, it offers awesome notes of kirsch liqueur, blackberries, ground pepper, leafy herbs, and graphite as well as a full-bodied, powerful, yet weightless style on the palate. It’s one of those wines that offer incredible intensity and depth, yet stays weightless, seamless, and elegant. It’s a magical wine and one of the greatest Grenache releases to ever come from California.
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.