Today, we are delighted to release the highly sought-after Sine Qua Non 2018, non EBAs, which are perennially popular due to their uber scores and price. It marks our first look at the 2018 vintage in Napa which had a slow and steady growing season and cool autumn that provided ideal conditions. The result is high quality, intense and complex wines and Antonio Galloni has already declared ‘2018 looks like a strong vintage’.
Sine Qua Non have used this canvas to produce remarkable Non EBAs (extended barrel age). As always, a Syrah dominant and a Grenache dominant wine has been made, equipped with their unique names and labels. The Syrah has been named Squeezebox and in 2018 is composed of 82% Syrah, 6.7% Mourvèdre, 5% Petite Sirah, 2.3% Grenache, 2.7% Viognier and 1.3% Muscat, which Lisa Perrotti-Brown of The Wine Advocate says it ‘kicks off with bright, vivacious scents of freshly cracked black pepper, licorice, baker’s chocolate and menthol before opening out to a core just singing of Black Forest cake, wild blueberries and ripe blackberries with wafts of smoky bacon and garrigue.’ It is clearly a remarkable wine and has been awarded a barrel score of 98-100, making it potentially the joint highest scoring perfect non-EBA.
The Grenache dominant chef-d’oeuvre has been named Profuga and flirts with perfection with a score of 97-99 points. In 2018 it is composed of 77.5% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre, 8.3% Syrah, 3.3% Petite Sirah and 0.9% Viognier. Even in its nascent stage Perrotti-Brown describes it as having ‘bedazzling pirouettes out of the glass with the most gorgeous rose oil, kirsch, licorice and fragrant earth scents, leading into a powerful core of black raspberries, redcurrant jelly and powdered cinnamon plus a waft of underbrush… This is all beautifully framed by tightly knit, very finely grained tannins, and the finish holds this provocative, lingering siren’s note, delivering exotic spices and rose-laced accents. Beguiling.’ That is some tasting note and it speaks of the utterly remarkable ability of Sine Qua Non to produce non-EBAs which compete with their siblings which spend another year in barrel. They really are where the smart money is.
Sine Qua Non Squeezebox and Profuga 2018 are released today at £250 per bottle, which presents a great way to enjoy Sine Qua Non at a stunning price point. To put this in perspective, the 100-point EBAs start at £500 and rise to £1,000. As one bottle is never enough of this powerhouse wine, we are pleased to offer a special price of £1,500 for three bottles of each, six bottles in total. Only 1,350 cases and 600 magnums were made of each, which again represents the intense selection and focus that goes into these brilliant wines.
Sine Qua Non was created in 1994 by Manfred Krankl, an Austrian immigrant, as a hobby. The reception for his first 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.