IS SINE QUA NON THE GREATEST WINE IN THE WORLD? We go to school to find out!

Tasted Friday, May 22, 2009 - Monday, May 25, 2009 by clayfu with 711 views

Introduction

IS SQN THE DRC OF AMERICA?CONSISTENTLY High scoring wines from the GREATEST OF GREAT wine critics and loved by wine drinkers around the world. I love me a good bottle of Sine Qua Non. Who Doesn't? Manfred does some magic in Ventura when he isn't riding his Ducatti and making label art. If it's not the greatest wien in the world, it surely has the best label art? I capped off a day of moving my furniture and wine from San Diego to Los Angeles with a night of SQN at the Cal Poly School of Management's Kellogg Ranch Restaurant. I was dead freaking tired, drove 150 miles in a U-Haul, worked through Friday Memorial day weekend traffic but was determined to make it to this dinner. I ended up being only 40 minutes late and was put at the children's side of the table with the under 30 crowd. Since we're incredibly immature, I spent the night enjoying multiple bottles of SQN, unknowingly teasing Ryan's girlfriend about her age when I meant to make fun of Joe, hassling the poor student chef for destroying my piece of halibut, being quizzed on Ryan's mystery blend (which he mixed all 3 SQN syrahs) and having a great time among good friends (and a new friend! Go USD law alums!)

We coincidentally had a mini vertical of 04-06 syrah and grenache. Had some Champagne to start off the night and ended with a mystery napa cab and dessert wines. I'm not sure how anyone drove home consuming all that 15.6%+ alcohol wines. I didn't see a red solo spit cup.... funny since we had a long discussion about being pulled over for speeding after having some wines during dinner.

Flight 1 - Intro flight (4 Notes)

We started off with a lovely grower bubbly and moved into a SQN rose & white and finished up with the 98 Veiled Pinot Noir. I'm always impressed by SQN whites, I feel I should be complaining about it being too syrupy and alcoholic, but it never ends up being that way. I felt the fruit was disappearing on the pinot, but my sentiments were shared only by one other person. He drinks burgundy religiously and has worked hard and successfully to covert me as well. Maybe we shouldn't listen to his opinion ;).

  • 2002 Jean Milan Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut Cuvée Symphorine 92 Points

    France, Champagne, Côte des Blancs, Champagne

    (5/25/2009)

    A nutty caramel nose paired with some expressive lemon. Light fuji apple on the palate with medium acidity. Slightly creamy but full of yeast (a certain attorney in the room said girls don't like to hear the two together O_O). A fresh tingly champagne with a nice amount of cream that was a great kick off to our night of wines

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  • 2006 Sine Qua Non Autrement Dit 92 Points

    USA, California

    (5/25/2009)

    Pop and Pour

    Didn't enjoy this very much when Joe brought it last month, but enjoyed it significantly more this time around. THe nose has ripe meaty raspberries with 5 spice and hints of heat. A bit rough along the edges with blunt red berry and strong tannic cherries. Low acidity mixed in with oddly high minerality.

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  • 2006 Sine Qua Non The Hoodoo Man 93 Points

    USA, California

    (5/25/2009)

    Big ol deliciously complex nose of fresh cut caramelized pineapple. Syrupy glycerin like apple with crushed walnuts and butterscotch. A finish of sweet pear and a hint of alcohol. Okay acidity. Everytime I took a sip i wanted to say it was over alcoholic but it wouldn't let me! It straddles the border of balanced big syrupy wine and an over oaked alcoholic wine. Damn you Sine Qua Non for teasing my palate!

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  • 1998 Sine Qua Non Pinot Noir Veiled 91 Points

    USA, Oregon, Yamhill County

    (5/25/2009)

    Most of the party (sans 3 of us) thought it was a very good pinot. I just thought its best days were behind it (AKA DRINK UP). One member of the party said all he could taste was oak and alcohol and the fruit had vanished. For me the nose was still very expressive with deep dark sweet black berries with toasted vanilla seeds and oak. But the palate was limited to a light slightly earthy raspberry fruit... almost no finish and was just limited to that fruit. I didn't get the alcohol/oak my neighbor got, but I wasn't particularly blown away by the palate (nose was quite nice tho)

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Flight 2 - Grenache flight (3 Notes)

I realized I was the only one doing a Grenache flight, everyone else was comparing years side by side while I was comparing varietals. This is what happens when i'm over eager. Into the Dark was my WOTF/WOTN and the same for many others. The Atlantis has monster bottle variation, I am so perplexed by it.

  • 2004 Sine Qua Non Into the Dark 94 Points

    USA, California, Central Coast

    (5/25/2009)

    pop and pour
    The first thing that hits your nose is a bloom of Andre the Giant size huge peppered ripe red berry. After Andre knocks you over the side of your head you're greeted by a loaf of fresh baked bread with just a touch of alcohol. On the palate you get a mouth watering rich sweet cherry with hints of tobacco, pepper, and clove scattered all around. Light rounded tannins with sweet red berries on the 25~ second finish. WOTN for me and most of the group.

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  • 2005 Sine Qua Non Grenache Atlantis Fe2O3~2a, b & c 91 Points

    USA, California

    (5/25/2009)

    Pop and Pour. I have been getting HUGE variations in this Atlantis Grenache, each time has been completely different and this time was probably it's lowest.. with last november being sky high great.
    A nose of REALLY strong pepper and vanilla with a hint of olive. Big bold red berries accompany the pepper on the nose. Hordes upon hordes of smooth spiced berry with a hot sour cherry finish mixed in with tobacco. Pretty limited wine, didn't feel it was anything special this time around. I know this wine has the potential to be awesome, not sure what's going on with the bottle variation.

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  • 2006 Sine Qua Non Grenache Raven Series 93 Points

    USA, California

    (5/25/2009)

    Pop and pour
    An interesting nose of succulent honey and caramel with tart red fruit rollup and vanilla.
    HUGE ripe black (slightly bitter) berries mixed in with gobs of bright cherry and toasted oak laid upon a bed of fresh earth. Surprisingly high amounts of acidity on the finish that leaves your tongue tingly with tart chocolate cherries.

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Flight 3 - Syrah flight (4 Notes)

I'm perplexed how the Poker Face is 100 pts, but different strokes for different folks. I enjoyed the Raven Syrah and I hope to come back to it later on in it's years. Once again the Atlantis Syrah is the least favorite SQN I've had so far. Had a Dayton Cabernet at the very end. One of the best QPR drinkers I've had in a long time. It's a "secret label" , "famous" Napa vineyard and winemaker from Oakville. No clue what it is. Only one wine store is carrying it but it's a freaking steal at sub $15. If you want to know where, feel free to PM me. Ongoing joke with R. Matsui who sent it to me, some lady from China is looking to buy 100 cases of it and take it back to China. Most likely to relabel it as a cult wine and sell it to some unwitting folks at auction. Oh us shady Chinese =P.

  • 2004 Sine Qua Non Syrah Poker Face 92 Points

    USA, California, Central Coast

    (5/25/2009)

    pop and pour.
    Loaves upon loaves of fresh out of the oven white bread with inky dark brooding berries and ripe alcohol mixed in with the customary SQN spice greet you on the nose. A super clean and soft wine with crisp handfuls of bright cherries and raspberries. Vanilla, spiced black pepper, and 5 spice round out the palate. May have to do with the fact that it was a pop and pour, but the wine didn't show strongly. I'm used to being blown away by SQN with bold fruits and spice that is balanced and clean, but everything was subdued. 100pts it is not.

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  • 2006 Sine Qua Non Syrah Raven Series 93 Points

    USA, California

    (5/25/2009)

    By far the darkest SQN of the night. Pop and pour
    A nose of jolly rancherish watermelon at it's peak with ripe crushed grapes and strawberries and some 5 spice. Interestingly enough, the first wine i've had with a really pronounced "grapey smell". There is a bit of that toasted oak with vanilla on the nose but it's overwhelmed by the fruits. The most full bodied wine of the night, mouth coating freshly picked raspberries with a well balanced portion of vanilla, vegetation, earth, and a very very small hint of gamey meat. Tart fresh cherries on a really really really long finish with acidity to match. I think this wine will be going places in a few years, right now it's a bit young... all the flavors haven't balanced completely with each other and the fruit isn't as pronounced as the vanilla and vegetation.

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  • 2005 Sine Qua Non Syrah Atlantis Fe2O3~1a, b & c 90 Points

    USA, California

    (5/25/2009)

    Pop and pour
    a nose of really strong mint and olive juice with just loads and loads of black pepper and baked vegetables. Really hot on the nose. Sweet gobs of strawberry on the palate with dirty minerality and peppered meats. A long strawberry finish that's marred by another huge chunk of alcohol and grippy tannins. Second time i've had this and the alcohol and oak is pretty high. It's saving grace is that really nice sweet fruit and peppered meats that I found particularly expressive among it's brethren of other Syrahs

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  • 2005 Dayton Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 92 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville

    (5/25/2009)

    How can this wine possibly be 15.7% alcohol. I polled the table, Joe and Ryan guessed 14 and under. Decanted 3 hours at the table. A really beautiful nose of raspberry, dark fruit, fresh dirty, and tobacco shavings. A soft palate of gorgeous sweet red fruit, pencil shavings, and earth with smooth subdued tannins

    HOW CAN THIS WINE BE UNDER $15?! RIDICULOUS. I am buying a case tomorrow. Thanks Rick for mailing this bottle for us to enjoy!

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Flight 4 - Dessert flight (2 Notes)

The SQN atlantis is drinking SPLENDIDLY right now. Guiraud not so much. I wonder if we come back to both of these wines in 5-10 years will my opinions be completely different?

  • 2005 Sine Qua Non Roussanne Atlantis Fe2O3~3e 95 Points

    USA, California

    (5/25/2009)

    GEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE wiz. Tons of succulent honey comb with sweet yellow melon on the nose. With honey dew, fresh honey, and soft sweet juice dripping Bartlet pears on the palate. Great acidity to pear with the sweetness, wonderfully balanced and teases the line of being too sweet. Way better than the over the top MR. K's for me.

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  • 2005 Château Guiraud 90 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes

    (5/25/2009)

    Drank out of a 375.

    Really heavy syrup nose with very restrained honey and cloves of parsley mixed in with limited tropical fruit. Super duper cloy on the palate with overly sweet honey and the acidity was hiding behind all that sweetness. I wish I came back to the wine or had the chance to sit with it a day later. Once it all integrates I'm sure itll be a tasty tasty Sauterne (i have 750's so i hope so!)

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