TN: A day of lots of SQN and a few more!

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Loren Sonkin
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TN: A day of lots of SQN and a few more!

#1 Post by Loren Sonkin » December 7th, 2014, 5:15 pm

A DAY OF LOTS OF SQN AND A FEW MORE! - Loretta Paganini School of Cooking and the Woods of Newbury (12/7/2014-12/9/2014)

A local cooking school has a series of lunches on Saturday afternoon that is open to the public. The allow BYO. Our friends Charlie and Alice go every week, and Charlie has taken charge of making these amazing wine events. This was the culmination of the fall semester, and so Charlie set as a them, one of his favorite wineries, Sine Qua Non. We all contributed. Duncan and his lovely fiancée Yvonne travelled to Ohio to join us. While it may be true that the wines would have performed better had they been drunk by a few people over a longer period, that isn't the point. This was FUN! And the wines were great! Jane and I feel quite lucky to have been a part of this and even more to have friends we can share events like this with. The wines were grouped in flights of one or two. Each wine had about twenty minutes with a pour of just under 2 ounces. There were 13 of us. Luckily, I got mine and a lot of my wife's wines too. At the end of the lunch, we then went back to Charlie and Alice's home for some more wine.
Some whites to start
It's always interesting to try these. Some I like, others I love. White Rhone varietals are always tricky as to when they are ready to drink.
  • 2010 Sine Qua Non The Monkey - USA, California (12/7/2014)
    Golden in color. The nose has a lot of vanilla, some smoke and some lemon cream. Full bodied. Nice back bone of acidity. Slightly bitter. I have had this a bunch of times now and it always seems like it is skipping a beat but with a bit more time will get there. I would hold these and wait at this point. (92 pts.)
  • 2011 Sine Qua Non The Moment - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County (12/7/2014)
    I liked this better than most SQN whites. Lighter gold in color. Much cleaner nose. Apricots and marzipan on the nose. A refreshing tartness on the palate. beautiful texture. Slightly waxy turning a lovely and interesting tangerine on the finish. Drinking great now, I wonder if it ever gets better although it will certainly develop. (95 pts.)
And we're off
A disappointing start. I think some people were having too much fun to let some off bottles get in the way. ;-) In any event, this was it for off bottles, so perhaps it was best we got them out of the way early.
  • 2001 Sine Qua Non Midnight Oil - USA, California, Central Coast (12/7/2014)
    The other side of the table seemed to be enjoying it, but I think that was more of the excitement of the tasting. Our end was quite disappointed. This was not a proper bottle. Quite advanced, it tasted past prime. I scored it 88, but as I said, I don't think it was a sound bottle. Ruby/purple with browning at the edges. The nose has raisins, black raspberries, and was slightly oxidized. The palate was a bit flat and showed little fruit. Can't say if this was a bad fitting cork or saw poor storage at some point, but I have had this and it should have been much more vibrant.
  • 2003 Sine Qua Non Syrah Papa - USA, California, Central Coast (12/7/2014)
    Corked. Not horribly, but enough that there was little fruit. No point in drinking it with all the other wine to come. NR (flawed)
Back on track.
  • 2002 Sine Qua Non Syrah Just For the Love of It - USA, California (12/7/2014)
    Absolutely my favorite SQN ever. This may not have been 100 points this time, but just barely. It may have been the setting. The nose has black raspberries, blue berries, iodine, slight toast and spice. Layered and complex. Young at probably not at peak although this has been so good since release, peak may be a misnomer. Absolutely fabulous bottle of wine. (99 pts.)
  • 2005 Sine Qua Non Syrah The 17th Nail in My Cranium - USA, California (12/7/2014)
    This seemed slightly shut down since release. It is a great bottle of wine, but needed air (it was pop and pour). Black raspberries, black pepper, toast, slight floral notes. Great texture (maybe the best Syrah of the night in that matter). Tight layering as it unwinds in the glass. Long finish. A long life ahead. (97 pts.)
  • 2005 Sine Qua Non Grenache The Naked Truth - USA, California (12/7/2014)
    Does anyone make a better Grenache than SQN? I don't think so (although there are some that may be as good). This was beautiful. SQN's are big yet they avoid being ponderous or alcoholic. No easy trick in CA. The nose has black cherries, raspberries, spice, red licorice and even some lavender. On the palate, lovely texture. Lots of fruit black cherries, raspberries with a great backbone of acidity to carry all the fruit. A touch of charred wood. Long finish. Getting close to peak but not there yet. (98 pts.)
  • 2007 Sine Qua Non Syrah Labels - USA, California, Central Coast (12/7/2014)
    Great showing for this wine. Very smooth. Really in a great place right now. The nose has black raspberries, blue berries, spice, pencil lead and floral notes. Lovely texture. Layers of fruit, oak and spices on the palate with great acidity. Lush texture. Smooth finish. Beautiful. (98 pts.)
  • 2006 Sine Qua Non Syrah A Shot in the Dark - USA, California (12/7/2014)
    This needed some air. At first there was a lot of heat, but that blew off. Still, I think a couple of hours in a decanter may have helped this be even better. Chocolate covered raspberries, black raspberries, black pepper and spice on the nose. Full bodied. Muscular texture. As it unwound in the glass, there is tight layering. Lots of fruit, oak and spice. Also some earthiness. Long finish. (96 pts.)
  • 2006 Sine Qua Non Grenache Raven Series - USA, California (12/7/2014)
    Purchased at retail (Whole Foods) from back in the day when SQN was available at retail in Ohio. This was the last vintage for that sadly. Purple in color with some ruby at the rim. The nose is very nice with black cherries, cranberries, spice, and some smoke. Also some earthiness. On the palate, this has a nice complexity. Not as big as most of the wines this day but that of course, is relative. Lots of lush cherries and black cherries on the palate. Tight layering. Great acidity. Long finish. (95 pts.)
  • 2006 Sine Qua Non Syrah Raven Series - USA, California (12/7/2014)
    Very nice showing for this bottle. Purple in color. The nose has black raspberries, grilled meats, black licorice and black pepper. Full bodied. Intense black raspberry fruit on the palate. Some underlying charred wood, black pepper. Nice balance. Long finish. (96 pts.)
  • 2010 Sine Qua Non Syrah Five Shooter - USA, California, Central Coast (12/7/2014)
    Wow. Great showing. Best nose of the tasting. Deep. Black raspberries, black licorice, iodine, violets, black pepper, blue berries it just gets deeper and deeper and more complex. The palate is amazing as well if tighter and not as complex as the nose. Black raspberries, dark chocolate, charred wood. Lush texture. Juicy acidity. Long finish. Just beautiful. (99 pts.)
  • 2010 Sine Qua Non Grenache Five Shooter - USA, California, Central Coast (12/7/2014)
    Very nice. The nose has dark cherries, some dark chocolate, raspberries, and spice. Lush and full bodied. Juicy. On the palate, this is ripe and delicious. Mostly red fruits, raspberries and cherries, but some purple fruits as well. Long finish. Smooth with no noticeable alcohol. (98 pts.)
  • 2011 Sine Qua Non Grenache Dark Blossom - USA, California, Central Coast (12/7/2014)
    Still quite young. The nose has cherries and cranberries. Some white pepper and spice. This may be the leanest wine on the table, but it is still full bodied and large. The palate has cherries and dark cherries with a bit of earthiness and spice. Tart acidity. Long finish. (96 pts.)
  • 2011 Sine Qua Non Syrah Dark Blossom - USA, California, Central Coast (12/7/2014)
    Another wow wine. Would love to revisit with more time and more wine as it just kept getting better in the glass. The nose has black raspberries, blue berries, vanilla, spice, black licorice and kirsch. On the palate, the wine just explodes with fruit and complexity with a lush texture and great acidity. Long finish. Wonderful. (99 pts.)
Back at Charlie and Alice's home:
  • 2012 Sine Qua Non Chardonnay Pearl Clutcher - USA, California, Central Coast (12/7/2014)
    This has been open for a day and stored overnight in the fridge when I got to it. I suspect it was better on day 2 but I don't know for sure. It is a great Chard. The nose has lemons, caramel and toast and a really interesting pine note that was enjoyable if different. Full bodied. I found a significant amount of oak, but at least on day 2, there is enough other stuff to support it. Seemed to me to be the best side of classic Cal Chard. it reminds me somewhat of The Judge. Not sure if I will ever get to try this again, so it was a real treat! (96 pts.)
  • 2009 Alban Vineyards Grenache Alban Estate Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley (12/7/2014)
    This is really great but after all the great SQN Grenaches, it was a bit unfair. Still, this outstanding. Ruby in color with purple swirls. The nose has black cherries, black raspberries and spice. Full bodied. Young. Lots of black cherry and raspberry fruit on the palate. Long finish. Going back to it later in the night, it had started to really open up showing a bit more oak, but also a tight layering suggesting further development. (93 pts.)
  • 2009 Sine Qua Non Grenache This is Not An Exit Eleven Confessions Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Sta. Rita Hills (12/7/2014)
    This bottle had also been open the day before and had just a taste left. Beautiful wine. The nose has black cherries, smoke and charred wood. Also some spice. Quite complex and layered on the palate. Soft but still tannins. It had a lot of air of course, but it didn't seem to suffer from that. Gorgeous wine. (95 pts.)
  • 2005 Sine Qua Non Syrah Atlantis Fe2O3~1a, b & c - USA, California (12/7/2014)
    Again, a left over from the night before. I love this wine and have had a fair amount of bottle. The 20 hours of air did not seem to hurt it at all. great nose of black raspberries, smoke, kirsch and black pepper. Juicy, lush texture. Complex, layered fruit, slight earth, and spice and charred wood. Long finish. Delicious. (98 pts.)
  • 2000 Alban Vineyards Syrah Lorraine - USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley (12/8/2014)
    Bought by me on release and stored. The nose shows some VA which is off putting to some. It partially blew off but remained distracting. It still is holding it own and probably close to peak. Nice black raspberry fruit and charred oak. Lots of layering of fruit and earthiness on the palate. A bit too much alcohol on the finish. (90 pts.)
  • 2006 Saxum Bone Rock James Berry Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles (12/9/2014)
    Inky purple in color. The nose has black raspberries, blueberries, camphor, black pepper and grilled meats. Full bodied. Also, that light on its feet quality that I love about Saxum. The palate is lush with black raspberries, blueberries and layers of charred earth and wood. Great acidity. Long finish. I love Saxum and this wine demonstrated why I like them a touch better than SQN (heresy, I know). They have this lightness despite all the power and size, more like Mohammed Ali than George Foreman. Both are great of course, and vintage and vineyard matter too. This woke my palate up while drinking it among a lot of wines. (97 pts.)
  • 2006 Lillian Winery Syrah - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County (12/7/2014)
    This is in a nice place right now. So often I have had these and found them young. This seems to be, while not at peak, at least showing its stuff. Smooth, complex and layered complexity on the palate. Black raspberries, black pepper, slight earthiness on the nose. Great texture. Beautiful. (94 pts.)
  • 2007 Lillian Winery Syrah Blue Label - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County (12/7/2014)
    From Magnum. This is young and tight in this format. Luckily I was able to take my time and revisit. It needs time, but this is outstanding. Lovely nose of black raspberries, kirsch, black pepper, floral notes and grilled meats. Lovely texture. Juicy acidity. Long, persistent black raspberry fruit. Firm tannins. Some vanilla. Long finish. Excellent. (96 pts.)
  • 2012 SonkinCellars Persona - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County (12/7/2014)
    I am biased, but IMO, it did not embarrass itself and held its own among the illustrious company. This was pop and pour and like many 2012's, I am surprised at how well they drink in that format. Still, they will reward air or cellaring IMO.
  • 2012 Bevan Cellars Tin Box - USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville (12/7/2014)
    George opened this late which was a real treat. Might have been the best wine of the day. It was close. The nose has cassis, chocolate, spice, and blue berries. Despite its youth, this is very accessible and quite delicious. It also shows some complexity already. I am always impressed with how well Bevan wines drink young. Gorgeous. (99 pts.)
Thanks to all for contributing some great wines for our cellars. It was great to meet Duncan and Yvonne. And much thanks to Charlie and Alice for making it happen.
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Last edited by Loren Sonkin on December 9th, 2014, 1:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Jeff Lewis
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TN: A day of lots of SQN and a few more!

#2 Post by Jeff Lewis » December 7th, 2014, 5:49 pm

Are you kidding me. Wow.

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#3 Post by adam landa » December 7th, 2014, 6:06 pm

Unbelievable Loren...Thank you for posting.

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#4 Post by Jeremy C » December 7th, 2014, 6:19 pm

I am in awe. Thank you for sharing.
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TN: A day of lots of SQN and a few more!

#5 Post by C Janko » December 7th, 2014, 6:46 pm

Wow what a incredible showing!
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#6 Post by andrewnorth » December 7th, 2014, 7:51 pm

Wow, what a line up.

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#7 Post by David Glasser » December 8th, 2014, 4:39 am

Awesome...

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#8 Post by Bruce Leiser_owitz » December 8th, 2014, 5:10 am

So, just another night of sucky wines, eh?

Thanks for the notes.

Bruce
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TN: A day of lots of SQN and a few more!

#9 Post by Rich Stahmer » December 8th, 2014, 5:54 am

Thanks for the great notes on the SQN's. I usually open mine 1 at a time...I'm jealous. I hope you are right that The Monkey has room to improve. The bottle I opened recently was the best white wine I have had in a few years. I still have 2 left.

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#10 Post by Phill.WC » December 8th, 2014, 6:54 am

Awesome notes!
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#11 Post by Justin Wittkopf » December 8th, 2014, 7:05 am

Holy cow, Loren. Damn!

Thanks for the notes and letting us glimpse at that great day of wines.

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#12 Post by larry schaffer » December 8th, 2014, 7:26 am

Loren,

Sounds like a fantastic night indeed!

Quick question - do you think you're usually a 'generous' rater? I ask because if I had had that Midnight Oil blind and it tasted the way you described, I don't think it would score in the high 80's. Just curious . . .

Cheers.
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Loren Sonkin
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#13 Post by Loren Sonkin » December 8th, 2014, 9:33 am

Larry, that's funny. Some people tell me I am too stingy while others say I am an easy grader. I usually score your wines at 90-92, so you tell me? [cheers.gif] FWIW, I find Tercero wines to not only be outstanding, but great values as well.
With regards,

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#14 Post by larry schaffer » December 8th, 2014, 10:21 am

Loren,

Thanks for your comments - greatly appreciated! But my comment had more to do with what you had to say about that Midnight Oil - if you had had that blind and didn't know the producer or wine, what do you think you would have scored it? Curious to hear . . .

I know that none of us want to believe that we 'rate' or 'score' wines based on anything but what's inside the bottle, but to me 'context' is important and therefore does affect these things at times . . .

Can't wait to try your wines one of these days - perhaps we should swap out some White Hawk stuff, my friend?!?!? (my 10 is drinking well right now)

Cheers!
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#15 Post by Loren Sonkin » December 8th, 2014, 6:14 pm

If I had it blind, I would think it was good but past prime. I like to think I would have still scored it about the same, but its hard to know. I certainly gave it the benefit of the doubt having had better bottles of this wine and knowing how good it can be. At least in the sense of saying it was a bad bottle. If this was my first time trying this wine/producer I probably would not go back for more, especially at release pricing.

Be glad to work something out.
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#16 Post by Phill.WC » December 8th, 2014, 6:52 pm

Loren,

Did you decant the Five Shooter Grenache? Your notes have me curious and I might just pop on Wednesday.
Thx
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#17 Post by M Hoose » December 8th, 2014, 8:44 pm

Wow - what a line-up indeed.

Thanks for the notes - killer
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#18 Post by Loren Sonkin » December 9th, 2014, 5:30 am

Phil, to my knowledge no wines were decanted. Only the Raven saw any extended breathing (a couple of hours).
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