Sine Qua Non: The Indispensable Cult-Favorite Winemaker

Sine Qua Non: The Indispensable Cult-Favorite Winemaker

Sine Qua Non produces a limited number of bottles each year. The select few who are on their wine list are given the opportunity to experience the fusion of art and wine at its best.
Sine Qua Non produces a limited number of bottles each year. The select few who are on their wine list are given the opportunity to experience the fusion of art and wine at its best.

T here really is no wine producer like Sine Qua Non. Named after a Latin phrase meaning “without which, nothing,” or “absolutely indispensable,” SQN gives each new bottle in each new vintage a new name, a new label and a new bottle shape – all of which reflects their unique approach to winemaking. SQN doesn’t have a set method, recipe or style for the wines they make. Rather, they see each year as a new experience and an opportunity to make a wine that reflects what nature has given.

SQN’s fearless creators, Manfred Krankl and his wife, Elaine, have a lofty but simple ambition: to create a wine that every wine lover will want. SQN achieved its cult status quickly. By 2008, just fourteen years after their founding in 1994, seven wines they produced had earned 100 points from Robert Parker. SQN focuses primarily on Rhône varietals and grows their wines in some of the best vineyards in California’s Central Coast. Sunshine, top vineyard sites, mentorship from some of the best winemakers in the world and creative vision have become their hallmarks.

Bottles of wines by Sine Qua Non are displayed in private collection as part of the 2022 auction The Glass Cellar | 30 Years of Collecting

My own fascination with SQN began in 2010, during my years as a sommelier at Veritas in New York City, where I had the good fortune of working with one of the top collections showcasing this wine – the collection of Park B. Smith. At Veritas, I encountered several devout followers and even had the pleasure of meeting Elaine and Manfred Krankl. As I’ve tasted the wines over the years, I’ve learned that each is as distinctive as their bottles and thought-provoking labels would suggest.

Perhaps that’s confusing to lovers of Burgundy and Bordeaux, who prefer to compare vintage to vintage to see a marked style and vintage change. To understand wines better, we frequently try to define them based on what is expected given a certain grape or region. But SQN’s goal is pure enjoyment and their wines reflect that simple passion. The warmth of California comes through, and you’ll often feel a bit of power and intensity on the palate. Yet the wines are balanced, even with their ripe flavor and richness. They invite you to take another sip.

And as you explore the wines of Sine Qua Non at different stages in their development, whether in their youth or with age, you’ll find that they can be enjoyed now or kept in your cellar – whichever suits your pleasure.

Sine Qua Non Wines at Auction

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