2015 Sine Qua Non Entre Chien et Loup

Year: 2015
Appellation: Ventura
Country: USA-California
Wine Advocate: 97+
Vinous Media: 94
Jeb Dunnuck: 97
White Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 15.2%
Price :
$169.95

"The 2015 Entre Chien et Loup is a blend of 44% Chardonnay, 40% Roussanne, 8% Petit Manseng and 8% Viognier coming 44% from Bien Nacido Vineyard, 30% from the Cumulus (Estate) Vineyard and 26% from the Eleven Confessions (Estate) Vineyard. No settling was done to the juices—they were fermented as “dirty” as possible and, as usual, they were not racked. This wine was matured for around 19 months (bottled April 12, 2017), in: 19% concrete eggs, 20% stainless steel, 20% used barrels and 41% new French oak. It opens with a positively electric nose of ripe apricots, pink grapefruit and green mango with notions of candied ginger, honeycomb, allspice and baking bread. Medium to full-bodied, the palate has a wonderfully satiny texture and incredible freshness, cutting through the dense tropical and stone fruit layers, finishing with epic length and many layers of savory and spice notions. By the way, I love the name of this wine and just wait until you see the label which, I’m happy to report, has already (somehow) been given the all-clear by the TTB. 811 cases were made. Drinking deliciously right now, it is built like a brick house and should cellar gracefully for 10-12 years+.

Having not seen the Krankls since an event in Hong Kong around three and a half years ago, I visited Sine Qua Non in September this year, just one day prior to the third anniversary of Manfred Krankl’s motorcycle accident. It was like a hundred years had passed and no time at all. Manfred and Elaine both looked extremely well, albeit as though their chakras had been totally reset with a sledgehammer. Without doubt, they’ve come through a close shave, stronger, richer in spirit and taking nothing for granted.

I think it is a testament to all the rock-solid groundwork with attention to the most minute details that have been laid down in the vineyards (mostly estate now) and the winery since their inceptions, and to Manfred’s “rock,” Elaine, not to mention the winery’s dedicated team, that the winery did not miss a single beat during the 2014 harvest. The 2014 releases from Sine Qua Non and Next of Kyn are simply stunning, possessing at once incredible perfumes and provocative gravitas. As for the 2015s, they do not just beautifully encapsulate the incredible energy and multilayered depths that the best wines of this vintage possess—they essentialize these attributes, while the late-released 2013s are pure power juxtaposed by carefree decadence and wanton opulence. As you will see from my notes and scores, my excitement for these wines is about as fervent as it gets. Those who know me, know that I do not hand out 100-point scores lightly or often, but I am compelled to give a perfect score when the wine clearly deserves nothing less.

My visit to Sine Qua Non was after having spent two weeks driving from Napa to Paso Robles and down to Santa Barbara, visiting wineries, staying in Airbnbs and tasting, tasting, tasting my way through more than 1,100 California Central Coast wines. At the risk of preaching to the many of the converted out there, I cannot but say openly what a lot of followers of this winery already know: Sine Qua Non is leagues ahead of most of the wineries of this major area in terms of not just signature style, consistency and plain deliciousness, but in terms of utmost quality. This is the undeniable truth right now. The levels to which the Krankls and their team have taken the vineyards in the heart of California Central Coast is astonishing. Their work ethic, creativity and no-compromise stance should be considered a beacon for other wineries seeking sky’s-the-limit heights.

Apart from tasting the usual suspect grapes and vineyards from Sine Qua Non, I also got the opportunity to be the first person outside of the winery to taste the inaugural and very limited edition offering coming exclusively from their estate vineyard called The Third Twin. The vineyard, located in Los Alamos, about a 40-minute drive north of Santa Barbara, has belonged to Manfred and Elaine Krankl since 2000. At the time of purchase, around 15 acres were already planted to Syrah and Petite Sirah. In February 2011, the Krankls planted a further 11 acres in a block of almost pure sand, including about 1.33 acres to the Spanish variety Graciano. They decided to bottle a small amount (65 cases only) of the 2014 vintage. This is without a doubt the finest example of this grape I have ever tasted." (WA)

"The 2015 White Wine Lightmotif opens with a huge nose of apricot, peach pit, honey, chamomile and herbs. Ample and luscious on the palate, with tremendous depth, the 2015 is terrific today, even though it is still recovering from its recent bottling. I would give it a few years to settle down. The Sine Qua Non whites always need time in bottle, and that is very much the case here as well. In 2015, the low yields produced a white that is quite intense, even by Sine Qua Non standards. The blend is 40% Chardonnay, 40% Roussanne, 8% Petite Manseng and 8% Viognier. " (VM)

"As good, if not better than the 2014 white, the 2015 White Wine Entre Chien et Loup (which translates to between a dog and wolf, but is a French saying referring to dusk/twilight) checks in as a blend of 44% Chardonnay, 40% Roussanne, 8% Petite Manseng and 8% Viognier, raised in a combination of concrete eggs, stainless steel, used barrels and new French oak (varying sizes). The Chardonnay dominates on the nose which shows terrific buttered citrus, stone fruits, marzipan and brioche nuances. These carry over to the palate where the wine is full-bodied, thrillingly concentrated and textured, with bright, even racy acidity. Give this beauty a few years, and it’s going to keep for two decades or more. " (JD)