Sine Qua Non is one of California's most famous wine producers. Based just north of Los Angeles in Ventura County, and with most of its vineyards in Santa Barbara, it eschews the usual image of top California wine as being only from Napa Valley. That is not the only thing eschewed at Sine Qua Non – the same wine is rarely made more than once, turning the idea of the American icon wine on its head. The "cult winery" specializes in Rhône grape varieties, with most of the red wines based on Syrah and Grenache. White wines are typically based on Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier and are also modeled after Rhône wines.
The current release of the estate vineyard (a.k.a. the extended barrel-aged cuvee), the 2010 Grenache Stockholm Syndrome is an incredible effort that I couldn’t find a fault with. A blend of 75% Grenache, 22% Syrah, 2% Roussanne and 1% Viognier, all from the Eleven Confession Vineyard, it spent just under 30 months in 22% new and 78% used French oak prior to bottling. Locked and loaded, it knocks it out of the park with its cassis, licorice, smoked duck, spice-box and exotic herb-styled bouquet. The palate follows suit and while it has the expected depth and richness of the estate, it’s seamless, elegant and lively, with perfect balance, ultra-fine tannin and a finish that just won’t quit. It doesn’t get any better and count yourself lucky if you can latch onto a couple of these. It will thrill for 15-20 years. (JD)
The 2010 Grenache Stockholm Syndrome has an explosive energy to it that takes hold of the senses and never lets up. A distinctly dark side of Grenache comes through in an intense, opulent, full-throttle wine endowed with superb intensity and tons of fruit. Hints of over ripeness appear, especially on the finish, but that isn't enough to detract from the pure pleasure the 2010 delivers. (AG)
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