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2012 Sine Qua Non Stein Grenache

2012 Sine Qua Non Stein Grenache

97 RP

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From the critics:

95-97 VM

Critic Reviews

Starting with the Grenache release, the 2012 Grenache Stein is a blend of 76% Grenache, 16% Syrah and 8% Mourvedre, aged in 14% new French oak (15% was in concrete), that comes mostly from the estate’s Eleven Confessions Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills, but also includes grapes from the Cumulus, Third Twin (Syrah) and Bien Nacido vineyards. Checking in at 15.7% alcohol, it’s no lightweight, yet it has considerable elegance in its sweet blackcurrants, white pepper, licorice, baking spices and hints of violet-like aromas and flavors. Possessing the hallmark purity of the estate, it’s full-bodied, concentrated, rich and textured, with sweet tannin barely noticeable on the finish. I don’t think it’s one of the greatest Grenaches from the estate, yet it’s still an incredible effort that will benefit from short-term cellaring and have 15-20 years or more of overall longevity.

Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 97 RP
The 2012 Grenache Stein is incredibly refined, silky and pure, with bright red and blue-hued fruits. Today, the flavors are primary, so readers will have to be patient get the full breadth of aromas, flavors and textures. The Stein is a decidedly feminine, gracious Grenache that impresses for its textural beauty and nuance. I imagine it will provide a long and broad drinking window of pure pleasure over the next 15-20 years. This is an absolutely gorgeous wine from Sine Qua Non. The final blend is 76% Grenache, 16% Syrah and 8% Mourvèdre; 53% from Eleven Confessions, 29% from Cumulus, 9% The Third Twin and 9% Bien Nacido. The 2012 was done with 29% whole clusters and will spend around 22 months in French oak (14%) prior to its scheduled bottling this summer.

Vinous Media | 95-97 VM

Wine Details for 2012 Sine Qua Non Stein Grenache

Type of Wine California Red : Whether it's Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or Zinfandel, Californian red wine producers have a lovely habit of taking a varietal and expressing its essence in a unique, never before seen way. From Napa Valley to the regions south of Los Angeles, there's a red for everyone - and it's never too late to start exploring.
Varietal Grenache : The vast and complex world of grape varietals is wondrous, fascinating and somewhat baffling. The how and why certain varietals either prosper or fail in winegrowing regions around the world is interesting; varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon thrive in extremely gravely soils, while Merlot finds success in rich clay. The Grenache grape variety is no exception. It excels in some of the most “inhospitable” soils and climates; inhospitable perhaps for anything but the wonderful Grenache grape. It seems adaptable to harsher climates and terroir and when at its best can produce one of the most concentrated and alcohol laden wines.

Grenache (or Garnacha as it is called in Spain) is believed to have originated from the north-eastern Spanish province of Aragon. The varietal first spread south and east, to Catalonia, Rioja and Navarra. It expanded greatly throughout the 12th-17th century, to Corsica, Sardinia, Southern Italy, Sicily, Croatia and even Greece. It was first planted in France in the Languedoc region in the 18th century and eventually its arrival to Rhone in the 19th century. The worldwide expansion of Grenache was inevitable and would eventually find its way to Australia, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Provence and America. It was first introduced to California by Charles Lefranc, a prominent Santa Clara winegrower, in 1857.

Today, Grenache is one of the most popular and widely cultivated grape varietals in the world covering 163,000 hectares world-wide. It has been used in a myriad of ways and has been both, the workhorse and backbone in blending but also as a single-varietal. It is undoubtedly the magical component of the infamous Chateauneuf-Du-Pape appellation of France where a sea of Grenache grape vines grace the vineyards. Though there are 13 allowable varietals permitted by law in the AOC (controlled designation of origin), Grenache makes up 70-75% of all grapes grown in the appellation. It flourishes in a terroir of large stones, crystalline rocks, quartz, sandstone and the famous ‘galets roules’ (large round stones found throughout Southern Rhone). Chateau Rayas, which produces, perhaps the truest expression of Chateauneuf-Du-Pape is composed of 100% Grenache. Due to grape’s thin skin, the wine of Rayas is reminiscent to the color of red Burgundy offerings.

In Provence, Grenache is widely used in the blending of Rose wines. The great Sasha Lichine, of Chateau D’Esclans, who revolutionized the rose industry uses Grenache as the primary blending agent in his fleet of Rose. The grape’s phenolic qualities, ageability and character have lent to the success of D’Esclans, as his Garrus is the world’s most renowned, prestigious rose wine, while his Whispering Angel is the top-selling French rose in the United States.

In California, Grenache has taken on “new life” as it has found great success in the last 20-some years. New World winemakers and growers have adopted the grape (along with Syrah), producing what is referred to as “Rhone Rangers.” Manfred Krankl of Sine Qua Non and Alban Vineyards may be some of the finest examples of Grenache in California. Alban vineyards was the first important California winery to produce single-vineyard “Rhone” varietals, beginning a craze among other vintners as well as consumers. Krankl has fashioned ethereal wines from 100% Grenache that rival the greatest expression of Grenache in the world, earning him the title “California Cult” producer.

The varietal’s birthplace and most of Spain’s winegrowing regions have enjoyed great success with Grenache (Garnacha), where the varietal thrives in its natural elements of the hot and windy Mediterranean valleys. It ripens late with a long hang-time, so it needs hot, dry conditions. The long and deep roots are well suited to water stress, allowing for super concentrated flavors and aromas, especially with old vines. Spain has some of the finest Garnacha offerings as well as some of the least expensive in the world.

The incredible adaptability to areas of such inhospitable, dry and infertile soils is a mystical quality of Grenache. The world has been granted a gift, one that suits every budget and nearly every palate. From Chateauneuf-Du-Pape to Rose, to Cotes-Du-Rhone to Spanish Garnacha, the varietal has certainly earned its spot on the top of hot list.

Country US : As one of the most prolific and innovative wine regions in the world, America is a joy to explore. Most wine connoisseurs will agree that the nation's finest and most compelling wines are being produced today, which means that we have front-row seats to one of the most inspirational stories in wine history. While other regions tend to focus on specific wine styles and have somewhat strict rules as to which varietals you could grow, areas like California have few such restrictions in place. As a result, creative visionaries behind America's most reputable estates have been able to develop compelling, unique, and innovative styles, with a level of terroir expression that rivals even France's largest giants.
Region California : With a history of wine production that dates back to the 18th century, California currently sits as one of the world's most prolific and reputable wine regions. With an area as vast as California, you can expect a colorful collage of terroir profiles, a series of microclimates, and micro-environments that give the wine a unique, memorable appeal. The region's produce is far from homogenized in that sense, and it would take you countless hours to sample all of it. While the region boasts scars from the Prohibition era, it went through what can only be described as a viticultural Renaissance sometime after the 1960s. At that point, California went from a port-style, sweet wine region to a versatile and compelling competitor on the world market. Today, no matter which way your taste in wine leans, you can find a new favorite producer among California's most talented.

Notable sub-regions include legendary names like Napa Valley and Sonoma County, places that any wine lover would die to visit. California's quintessential warm climate allows for incredibly ripe fruit expressions, a style that provides a stark contrast to Old World-inspired, earthy classics. Even where inspiration was clearly taken from staple French appellations, Californian winemakers put their own unique spin on the wine.

Overview

Producer Sine Qua Non : Manfred Krankl may be just as quirky and artistic as the wines he creates at Sine Qua Non. From his unique blending of varietals, to the imaginative wine names that grace the unique and often sly, psychologically dark labels, Krankl’s unusual approach to winemaking is viewed as artisanal as well as unorthodox. However unpredictable he may be, the consistency of quality wine production has allowed Sine Qua Non to establish a very special niche in today’s wine world. One in which the famed Robert Parker stated that Manfred Krankl is, “One of the most creative and multidimensional winemakers on planet earth.”

Great praise has come frequently for Sine Qua Non since its inception, which Krankl states was coincidental. His wines have earned multiple 100- point ratings from Robert Parker; though, Krankl finds his new “insider-y” fame humorous. His comfort level with all the weirdness has taken on the afterglow of shrewd marketing tactics. Nothing seems usual about the operation here, where each vintage brings a slew of wines that may be structured entirely different from the previous year. Varietals change, as do the label artwork, but the quality remains consistent.

Krankl is non-conforming to traditional winemaking nor marketing and will not allow the market to dictate his approach. He was once consulted by a business man who encouraged him to use the same label on each vintage so consumers could identify his wines, to which Krankl replied, “hell no.” His ability to artistically design wines that truly express the varietals is unprecedented and though he has been mentioned along with other California Cult producers such as Screaming Eagle and Harlan, Sine Qua Non does not reside in Napa Valley.

The winery hails from Santa Barbara, Central Coast and deems itself a Rhone Ranger of California, as a majority of their wines are made from Syrah and Grenache. Krankl’s love of the Rhone varietals is evident in his bottlings and isn’t ashamed of his neglect of Cabernet Sauvignon which reigns king in California. He concedes that “Cabernet can be great, sure, but its’ not sexy. It makes me think of Masterpiece Theatre.” A staunch stance on a varietal that has brought California into the apex of winemaking. But then again, nothing about Krankl is ordinary, nor are the wines of Sine Qua Non.

Krankl has never had the desire to be the world’s greatest wine producers or to produce big wines laden with alcohol which are so prevalent in America. Nor has he had the ambition to be the largest, as his annual production is a mere 3,500 cases. His vision was to craft a wine that is not purely intellectual, that has sex appeal, juicy and full bodied, liveliness, agility and grace, but isn’t a fruit bomb, or overly alcoholic.

What is accomplished at Sine Qua Non is so incredible, so impressive, inventive and complex that it is difficult to describe the portfolio of wines, the varietals harvested and the intricate manner in which they are produced. Each bottle of Sine Qua Non is a piece of art and perhaps that is the subliminal message sent by Krankl himself who uses winemaking as his canvas. Much like a classical piece by impressionist, Claude Monet, Sine Qua Non must be witnessed personally to fully understand and appreciate.

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