Sine Qua Non Eleven Confession Grenache E 2015
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2015 Grenache E slides beguilingly out of the glass with a powerfully evocative, earthy/meaty nose of wood smoke, grilled meats, fragrant soil, truffles and iron ore with a core of kirsch, blackberry pie, Black Forest cake and aniseed plus touches of wild sage, rose hip tea and Indian spices. The palate is full-bodied, surprisingly muscular and built like a brick house with an unbelievable structure of very fine, densely pixilated tannins supporting the generous, multi-faceted layers, finishing with epic length, jaw-dropping texture and tons of cerebral mineral and spice nuances. WOW! 900 cases, 228 magnums and 30 double magnums were made.
The 2015 Grenache E comes all from the Eleven Confessions Vineyard and spent a whopping 38 months in 28% new French oak, with the balance in used barrels of varying sizes. An incredible effort that offers complex notes of cured meats, graphite, ground white and black pepper, flowers, and cassis, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, ultra-fine tannins, and a purity level that’s just about off the charts. Showing the concentrated, powerful, structured style of the vintage, give bottles 3-4 years in the cellar and enjoy over the following decade or more. Rating: 98+
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.
California is a winemaking colossus; by itself it is the fourth largest producer in the world. Red wine accounts for 56% of the total by volume, and red grapes 63% of total acres planted. In addition, a number of California red wines are heralded as being among the most prestigious and sought-after wines in the world.
While the state’s incredibly diverse geography, soils and microclimates allow for a wide array of styles, the key factor unifying California red wine is the abundance of sunshine and a long, consistent growing season. This leads to well-developed fruit marked both by impressive ripeness and balancing acidity.
The state’s most famous red wine region, of course, is Napa Valley, where Cabernet Sauvignon reigns as king. But California boasts a wealth of other impressive appellations. The much larger and climatically varied Sonoma County also produces world class California Cabernet, along with wonderful examples of California Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.
Fine versions of Cabernet and Zinfandel hail from Paso Robles as well, which is also gaining fame with Rhone varietals like Syrah and Grenache. As for Pinot Noir, terrific examples can be found from AVA’s such as Anderson Valley, Carneros, Santa Lucia Highlands and Sta. Rita Hills. Wineries in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties are making wonderful Syrahs, and the Sierra Foothill appellations are proving to be an experimental hotbed, with Italian and Spanish varietals employed to great effect.
This of course is a mere sketch. The subject of California red wine is as deep and broad as an ocean, and absolutely a joy to explore!