Friday, January 21, 2011

Sine Qua Non 2007 Labels Syrah and 2007 Pictures Grenache

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SQN 2007 Labels Syrah
Bookmark and Share Having dinner at Todd English's Blue Zoo restaurant in Orlando is a special event in itself. The architecture is dazzling with sculpted glasswork and shimmering chandeliers to capture the light and your imagination. Add three elusive never to be forgotten wines and you truly have an evening to etch into your memory.

The occasion was a dinner for our organization's executive board and I had selected a couple of nice wines to accompany the four-course meal. The white, to go with the ahi tuna or mahi-mahi entrees, was Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc, a nice Marlborough with some zip. The red was the 2007 Blue Rock Baby Blue from the Alexander Valley AVA in Sonoma. This red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Merlot, and Malbec is made in an approachable style that is simply delicious.

On any other night, the Baby Blue would have been the star of the evening. Not this time.

One of our board members asked if he could bring some special bottles of wine. "Of course,'" I replied. At $25 corkage per bottle, this is much less expensive than even mundane wine on the wine list. These wines were certainly not mundane -- actually in a universe apart from mundane wine.

Swirling in decanters in all their glory were the Sine Qua Non 2007 Labels Syrah, 2007 Pictures Grenache, and Bevan Cellars 2008 David's Cuvee.

Sine Qua Non is Latin for, “without which, it could not be.” In 1994, Elaine and Manfred Krank established Sine Qua Non in Ventura. The winery sources many of its grapes from Santa Barbara County, including the famous Bien Nacido Vineyard. The focus is on Rhone varietals.

SQN is a "cult wine." Not much is produced. Our friend on the board is on a mailing list and is given an opportunity to buy this scarce wine.  SQN wines, each which have unique label art, a name and unusual bottle, are snapped up quickly and the values skyrocket each year. To get a bottle, you may have to do so through an auction and be prepared to pay more than $200 each for the '07 Grenache and Syrah.

Our friend was leaving a consulting company and preparing for a new position at Google. He wanted a chance to savor the wine with friends who could appreciate it and in so doing, "make a memory."
There's much to be said about the SQN Syrah, but I can sum it up by saying I've never tasted a finer wine and it made all other Syrahs seem clumsy by comparison. It's a blend of 89% Syrah, 7% Grenache, and 4% Viognier from four separate vineyards. This is no California fruit bomb. It is lithe and agile with silky tannins and fabulous blueberry and blackberry flavor notes. It was a spectacular accompaniment to the beef tenderloin entree. 
The Pictures Grenache was also a revelation to me. I enjoy Grenache, especially Spanish wines (Garnacha). It's fruity and light-bodied. The SQN Grenache, in the hands of a master winemaker, is another creature entirely. This is a fuller-bodied wine, but pure and precise with flavor notes of raspberry. Its freshness and richness make it remarkable.

The wine is 89% Grenache with 9.5% Syrah and a dash of Viognier.

Sine Qua Non? Sine Qua Cool!

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