Sine Qua Non Retrospective at Luma on Park

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SQN Krankl"Something that Cannot be done Without", is what Sine Qua Non has come to mean to its collectors and enthusiasts. It literally translates in Latin to "without which not." Recently, a group of collectors got together for a Sine Qua Non Retrospective. It took place in the cellar, downstairs at Luma on Park. The vintages spanned over a decade with 42 different bottlings. To call these wines rare is an understatement; they are so hard to find they are the mystical unicorn wines that no one can get their hands on. The production of the wines is extremely limited, their wines routinely receiving 98-100 point scores. The label art is different each year, designed by the winemaker/owner, Manfred Krankl. Krankl is considered a mad scientist of sorts, and the limited availability of his wines, along with the original art on the labels, have made it so the bottles themselves are just as valuable as the wine inside. In May, a bottle of the 1995 Queen of Hearts Rosé, sold on WineBid for $37,200. It is highly doubtful that the wine inside is any good anymore, even if the wine has been stored perfectly. Since only 25 cases of this wine were made, we may never know. By the way, if you sign up on the waiting list today, estimates are that you have a 20 year wait coming.

I know what you're thinking, "If these wines are so hard to find, how did they find their way to Winter Park?" The answer lies in two local SQN collectors, Adam Chilvers and Tom Titzer. For the last few years they have been discussing the possibility of pulling together their collections and enjoying them one evening. In December, discussions turned into reality when they finally said, "Let's just do it." They put together a full inventory of what they had, and began planning the evening."

sqn tableAdam and Tom chose Luma on Park to host this event. From the planning phases to the execution, everything went smoothly. Tim and Brandon (Luma owners), should be proud; they have a great team who truly cares about what they do.
Before I get into the wines, I must say that I had some preconceived notions. I got mixed comments from my wine friends. Some thought it was excessive and indulgent and others thought it was cool and an amazing opportunity, I kind of agreed with both because my experience with the wines was very limited until this dinner. I knew it was an ultra cult winery that sends polite "we're sorry" post cards to those on the waiting list. These wines are pretty much impossible to get. I went into the dinner wondering if I was going to be wowed by the wines, or underwhelmed because the buildup was so high.

sqn glassesAfter getting to try 42 different wines - 6 white, 32 red, 4 sticky (dessert) wines - I feel like I now have a pretty good feel for the wines. Let's just say, by the end of the event, everyone was having a great time! It was very interesting to see the evolution of the winemaker and the wines as the vintages went from using some sourced fruit (mind you, it's the best fruit in the area), to his purchasing/planting his own Eleven Confessions and Cumulus Vineyards. The wines were all very well made, not one bottle was corked and sediment was pretty much non-existent. The wines were indicative of not only the vintage, but also the place where they grew, in the Santa Rita Hills area. There is a definite passion that you can taste in the wines. My favorite wines of the night were the 2006 "Ravens Series" Syrah, and the 2010 "Stockholm Syndrome" Syrah. The standout out vintages was 2004 – 2006 and 2010. The 2004 "Poker Face" Syrah was a favorite amongst that vintage group, and the 2004 "Ode to E" Grenache was out of this world. The 2005 "17th Nail in my Cranium", was exploding with depth, complexity and flavor. One of the attendees who collects mostly Old World wines, confessed that he was very impressed with the 2004 – 2006 vintage, and that he thought it would stand up to the best from the Rhone Valley. The 2011's were still babies, and some of the 2007 – 2009 wines seemed to be in a dormant phase. However... we were splitting hairs at that point. There was a lot of talk about tannin, balance, acid and what makes a wine good to age. If I have learned anything in the wine business, it is that wine is alive and always changing and adapting. I wouldn't be surprised if the wines from Manfred Krankl break the rules and shock the wine world a decade from now.
Something that cannot be done without = Sine Qua Non

SQN bottlesThe 42 SQN wines tasted are as follows (Robert Parker's Wine Advocate Ratings to the right):
Whites

2008 Kolibri White Wine [97pts]

2009 On the Lam White Wine [93pts]

2010 The Monkey White Wine [92pts]

2011 The Moment White Wine [95pts]

2012 In the Abstract White Wine [97pts]

2012 Pearl Clutcher Chardonnay [97pts]

Reds

2004 Poker Face Syrah [100pts]

2004 Into the Dark Grenache [99pts]

2004 Ode to E Syrah EBA [99pts]

2004 Ode to E Grenache EBA [100pts]

2005 Atlantis Fe 203-1b Syrah [100pts]

2005 Atlantis Fe 203-2a Grenache [97pts]

2005 17th Nail in my Cranium Syrah EBA [100pts]

2005 The Naked Truth Grenache EBA [97pts]

2006 Raven Series Syrah [96pts]

2006 Raven Series Grenache [98pts]

2006 A Shot in the Dark Syrah EBA [100pts]

2006 In the Crosshairs Grenache EBA [100pts]

2007 Labels Syrah [98+ pts]

2007 Pictures Grenache [97pts]

2007 Dangerous Birds Syrah EBA [98pts]

2007 Dangerous Birds Grenache EBA [99pts]

2008 B-20 Syrah [95pts]

2008 The Line Grenache [98pts]

2008 The Duel Syrah EBA [99pts]

2008 The Duel Grenache EBA [97pts]

2009 The Thrill of Stamp Collecting Syrah [95pts]

2009 Upside Down Grenache [96+ pts]

2009 THIS IS NOT AN EXIT Syrah EBA [97pts]

2009 ESTO NO ES UNA SALIDA Grenache EBA [96pts]

2010 Five Shooter Syrah [98+pts]

2010 Five Shooter Grenache [98pts]

2010 Stockholm Syndrome Syrah EBA [100pts]

2010 Stockholm Syndrome Grenache EBA [100pts]

2011 Dark Blossom Syrah [99pts]

2011 Dark Blossom Grenache [97pts]

2001 Midnight Oil Red Wine [96pts]

2002 Just for the Love of It Syrah [100pts]

Stickies

2006 Noble Man Chardonnay [95pts]

2006 The Straw Man Marsanne [97pts]

2007 To the Rescue Grenache [96pts]

2008 Jinete Bajo Roussanne [96pts]

SQN buffet

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