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Sine Qua Non Next of Kyn – Cumulus Vineyard No. 12 & Touriga Nacional Numero Quatro
Perfect Score Wines That Redefine The Industry
When you think of California wine, Napa Valley might be the first region that comes to mind. However, there's an extraordinary California winery that challenges the status quo, both in terms of its location and winemaking philosophy. Sine Qua Non, located in California’s Central Coast, has made a name for itself by pushing boundaries and producing exceptional wines. Two of these wines stand out with more than just perfect scores: The 2018 Sine Qua Non Next of Kyn Cumulus No. 12 & Touriga Nacional Numero Quatro.
Creating A Cult Following
In 1994, Sine Qua Non marked its inaugural vintage with a bold move by Austrian-born winemaker Manfred Krankl and his wife Elaine. They unveiled a mere four barrels of Syrah, naming it "Queen of Spades," complete with a label of Manfred’s own design. Before this endeavor, Krankl had collaborated with other winemakers, notably contributing to the creation of "Black and Blue" with Havens Cellars and collaborating on several projects with John Alban of Alban Vineyards.
This daring debut immediately caught the attention of wine critic Robert Parker, who promptly awarded it an impressive 95 points. At the time, this was the highest rating he had ever bestowed upon an American wine based on Rhône grape varieties.
From these initial four and a half barrels, the legacy of Sine Qua Non began to flourish. It sprouted into four distinct vineyard sites, gathered a dedicated and hardworking team, established a new winery facility, and garnered a worldwide following of passionate wine enthusiasts. The demand for Sine Qua Non wines consistently exceeded the supply, leading to the creation of a waitlist – a testament to their cult-like status in the wine world.
One of the most distinctive features of Sine Qua Non is that they rarely produce the same wine twice. While this might seem counterintuitive in an industry where consistency is highly valued, it's this uniqueness that sets Sine Qua Non apart.
Cumulus Vineyard No. 12 – RP100 & JD100
JD100 “The 2018s at this estate are incredible and, if anything, remind me a little of the 2016s, where just about every wine was at the top of the scale. The 2018 No 12 Cumulus Vineyard is more Syrah-dominated, checking in as 47.7% Syrah, 23.4% Grenache, 21.3% Petite Sirah, 5.6% Mourvèdre, and the rest Petit Manseng, all of which saw 41% whole clusters and 32 months in just 34% new French oak. Darker berries, Italian leather, kirsch, sandalwood, and dried flower notes are just some of the aromatics here, and it's full-bodied, has a seamless, graceful, yet sexy mouthfeel, ultra-fine tannins, and a blockbuster of a finish. It's another one of those wines that has everything: complexity, purity, power, elegance, you name it. Bravo! Drink this incredible elixir over the coming 15-20 years.” Jeb Dunnuck Aug 2022
Cumulus stands as one of the most cherished vineyards of Sine Qua Non, tucked away in the lesser-known locale of Oak View, just south of Santa Barbara, where Manfred and Elaine reside and host their winery. Characterized by a relatively warm climate, it typically takes the lead as the first of their vineyards to undergo harvesting.
This unique vineyard comprises numerous small blocks, each embracing diverse vine training techniques. The initial block, dating back to 2004, is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Roussanne. In 2008, two additional blocks were planted, introducing the rare white grapes, Petite Manseng and the equally scarce Touriga Nacional. These blocks also accommodate a modest portion of Mourvèdre, Petite Sirah, and two more small Syrah selections.
A standout feature is one of these blocks, which follows a Côte-Rôtie-style training system. This particular section boasts a remarkably dense planting configuration, with an impressive 4,350 vines per acre. Notably, these vines are own-rooted, meaning they have not been grafted onto foreign rootstocks, adding to the vineyard's distinct character and the winery's commitment to uniqueness and authenticity.
First A Little Excursion
Touriga Nacional is widely acclaimed for its role in producing Portugal's most exquisite red wines. It thrives extensively in the northern Dao and Douro wine regions, where it plays a pivotal part in crafting both dry red wines and the legendary fortified Oporto (Port) wines. While this grape has long remained unsung, it has recently emerged as a celebrated protagonist in the realm of dry red wines, offering a remarkable value proposition.
In many respects, Touriga Nacional can be considered Portugal's counterpart to France's renowned Cabernet Sauvignon. Both varieties exhibit bold, dark-fruit flavors, often complemented by hints of spice, leather, and violet. Just like Cabernet Sauvignon, Touriga Nacional boasts firm tannins, a distinctive character as a varietal wine, and an impressive capacity for aging. However, it truly thrives when utilized in blends, a practice deeply embedded in Portugal's winemaking culture. This versatility and adaptability allow Touriga Nacional to shine in a variety of wine styles, cementing its position as a jewel in the crown of Portuguese winemaking and in this unique case: California winemaking.
Touriga Nacional Numero Quatro – JD99 & RP98
JD99 “I was able to taste two new releases from the Krankls’ Next of Kyn release. Starting with the 2018 Touriga Nacional Numero Quatro, which also includes 9.1% Syrah, 7.2% Grenache, 6.2% Petite Sirah, and 1.5% Roussanne, it’s a full-bodied, deep, rich monster of a wine that still stays balance and elegant, with a terrific perfume of blue fruits, violets, gravelly earth, and peppery spice. It has building tannins, but the balance is as good as it gets, and it has a finish that won’t quit. Fermented with 35% whole clusters and aged 32 months in 60% new French oak, it’s going to keep for a solid 15 years or more.” JD Aug. 2021
Redefining The Industry
Sine Qua Non's 2018 releases, Cumulus No. 12 and Touriga Nacional, represent a winery that has redefined the norms of the California wine industry. Their willingness to explore diverse regions, grape varieties and embrace unconventional winemaking techniques has resulted in wines that stand as true works of art. Securing a bottle of these limited-production wines is a rare privilege for those seeking an extraordinary and unconventional wine experience. Sine Qua Non's legacy is a testament to the beauty of pushing boundaries and celebrating the uniqueness that wine can offer.
Written by: Arabella Maislinger