SQN drinking window

I apologize if this has been covered at length in other threads, but Buzz’s post about his 2011 Eleven Confessions Grenache got me to thinking about drinking windows.

I am curious for those of you who have followed SQN for many vintages…when do you find the wines hit their stride? I realize there are many variables at play here, not the least being vintage, but Manfred has a remarkable ability to seemingly override less than ideal vintages with a superb touch in the cellar to produce outstanding wines. On the same topic of variables, do you find that the Grenache based wines are open for business earlier than the Syrah? Generally, that has been my impression.

I am always looking at my SQN’s wondering when I should open them. I typically wait at least 5 years from vintage, and try to hold out for 7-8. How about others? I would expect a wide variety of responses, but thought it would be interesting to see if there is any commonality in them.

Hi Jim,

I virtually always open one off the truck (à la Charlie Luhta) and then open one each year or so. I think they are delicious from the get go, although obviously different than they are as they age. After the first 2-3 years I’ll open one maybe every other year. I think they really start to blossom in the 5-7 year range, which is probably where I like them the best, a balance between youthful and headstrong but starting to show a bit of maturity as the tannins integrate a bit.

I think the oldest I’ve had is 20-years old (Against The Wall sometime last year), and, with perfect storage, it was still very vibrant and delicious, and makes me think I could hang on to these longer, but I’m not sure that there is any payoff for holding them longer.

Although the wines do change with time, I’m not sure they get better, per se, just different. And that is one of the things I like about them–you can open one virtually any time, and the overall enjoyment is roughly the same.

As for Syrah vs. Grenache I haven’t noticed a marked difference (for my palate) although as I reflect on it I think you’re probably correct.

One outlier vintage for me was 2009. I thought they were fairly closed for the first few years, but they are shining now. I noticed similar results from other producers in '09 as well (e.g., Saxum didn’t drink well, for my palate, early on but I think his '09s are also singing right now), so I assume there is something about the vintage that led to this result.

THIS ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^