2003 Sine Qua Non - Wine Advocate #172 - Aug 2007: The mind-boggling 2003 The Inaugural Syrah is an emotional experience to taste as well as drink. Aged 38 ½ months in French oak, it was fashioned entirely from the Eleven Confessions Vineyard, which is planted with Syrah clones #470, 174, and the Estrella River and Alban field selections. This stunning Syrah boasts a magnificent bouquet of spring flowers, blueberries, blackberries, charcoal, licorice, and roasted meats. It hits the palate with remarkable intensity, purity, and full-bodied power, but it somehow manages to dance across the taste buds with the gracefulness of a ballerina. Awesomely long, I still tasted this wine 60 seconds after I had spit it out – no easy task, even for a professional. This majestic Syrah should be a modern day legacy for Sine Qua Non, ranking alongside the other stunning Syrahs they have produced, such as the two 2002 cuvees, Just For The Love Of It and Heart Chorea. This is a nuanced, complex wine, whereas the 2004 Poker Face is more exuberant and flamboyant. It should age beautifully for 10-15+ years. To reiterate, it is a challenge to analyze these wines. I know they are distinctive, and I think I am beginning to understand why they are so much greater than just about every other Syrah or Grenache-based wine in California. In short, it is talent and incredibly meticulous hard work. No one works as hard or is as maniacal about a vineyard’s viticulture and winemaking as Manfred Krankl. Take that, add in exceptional talent, humility, top-notch vineyards, and I believe I understand the fundamentals of why these wines are so special.
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