Vintage California Cult Rhone Wine Tasting Featuring Sine Qua Non, Saxum and Alban Vineyards

Saturday, June 24, 2023 - 07:30 PM

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“I pray you, do not fall in love with me, for I am falser than vows made in wine.”

William Shakespeare, As You Like It


We never make vows with wine unless it is over 16% alcohol…. there are only a few grape varietals that can handle that level of heat without being out of balance with Syrah and Grenache being two of them.

Syrah or Shiraz is one of the few red grape varietals that can by itself be made into a world class wine that can be cellared for decades.  Although the names are not identical the grape varietal is the same.

Grenache is another one of the most prominent Rhone varietals and although it is fairly different from Shiraz the wine drinking people that enjoy Shiraz also seem to enjoy Grenache.

We just received some of the top Rhone style wines from California so  I figured it was time to see what the best of California has to offer in the Rhone world and Sine Qua Non is always on the table for these events.  We have some of the other top wine producers in this category like Alban and Saxum to add to the table this evening.  Everything on the table is 8 years old or more so most of these wines are drinking at or near their peak but maybe they need a few more years in the bottle but that’s why we conduct these tastings to be sure…we are doing scientific research with wine here at Wine Watch!! 

This evening you can taste 10+ different wines from Sine Qua Non going back 10 years old for less than the cost of a single bottle in most cases!  And the price of this event includes dinner!!  The fee for this event is $495 + tax for reservations call 954-523-9463 or e-mail

Sine Qua NonAlban VineyardsSaxum Vineyards
Saturday, June 24, 2023
7:30 PM

2008 Sine Qua Non The Duel Estate Grenache, Sta Rita Hills, Usa
2008 Sine Qua Non The Duel Estate Syrah, Sta Rita Hills, Usa
2009 Saxum James Berry Vineyard Paso Robles
2010 Alban Vineyards Lorraine Estate Syrah Edna Valley, Usa
2010 Alban Vineyards Syrah Reva Alban Estate Vineyard
2010 Sine Qua Non Five Shooter Grenache, California, Usa
2010 Sine Qua Non Five Shooter Syrah, California, Usa
2012 Alban Vineyards Reva Estate Syrah Edna Valley, Usa
2012 Saxum Terry Hoage Vineyard Paso Robles
2013 Alban Vineyards Seymour's Vineyard Syrah Edna Valley, Usa
2015 Saxum Heart Stone Vineyard Paso Robles

Cheese and Charcuterie Selection
Hudson Valley Foie Gras Torchon with Current Jam and Brioche Toast Points
Seared Ancho BBQ King Salmon Served over Black Bean Puree with Roasted Pepper Salsa
Mongolian BBQ Kurobuta Pork Loin with and Sweet Potato Au Gratin
Dark Chocolate Creme Brulee with Raspberry Coulis

The fee for this event which includes dinner is $495 + tax for reservations call 954-523-9463 or e-mail  Please let chefs Toni and Dani know if you have any dietary restrictions and they will be happy to accommodate you.

A bit about Sine Qua Non from their web page:

"an essential condition; a thing that is absolutely necessary."

Our wines were born of pure passion and a wishful dream – to make something that is so distinctive and so delicious as to make it indispensable to wine lovers the world over. Clearly a rather lofty, even unrealistic notion, but one we decided to pursue anyway. And so with the 1994 vintage  started Sine Qua Non, made a whopping four and a half barrels of Syrah that we called “Queen of Spades.”

That first wine was a much greater hit than we could have ever imagined and it literally changed our life. What started as a hobby, more or less on a whim, has become not only our full time occupation, but indeed our life. It is now a part of just about everything we do.

These first four and a half barrels have grown into four different vineyard sites (see our Vineyards section please), a good number of wonderfully dedicated and hard working employees, a new winery building and a simply amazing number of loyal wine lovers the world over. In fact there are so very many lovely folks interested in our wines that we don’t have enough to go around and instead had to create something as annoying as a waiting list.

We are humbled by all the positive feedback we continuously receive by people like you as well as critics and journalists from all corners of the earth. We take that as our mandate to forever strive to get better, to never compromise and to stay true to ourselves and by extension to all those who have supported us and believed in us since those first 100+ cases of wine left our cellar…now so many years ago.

Although at heart we are a Rhone (Ranger) house where Syrah and Grenache play top fiddle… supported by Mourvedre, Rousanne and Viognier, we have an aversion to labels and dogmas or mindless ritual that are sometimes called tradition. And so we also grow non-Rhone-origin grapes such as Petite Manseng, Touriga Nacional, Graciano and Petite Sirah. Varieties we believe can work well on a Rhone canvas.

e are not working on a grape growing or winemaking THESIS. Instead we want all of our efforts to be reflected in every glass of SQN. And so our goal has been and always will be to understand Mother Nature’s often oblique ways and (re)act accordingly so that we may create wines that express all that Nature has so generously given us. And all that this beautifully warm and sunny place called California has to offer. Wines that speak to the heart and the mind both. Wines that are ripe and flavorful, but also graceful and balanced. Wines  that are perfectly enjoyable and delicious young, but  that will age and show a new and interesting personality with each passing year. Wines that surprise with each sip and where the last drop – not the first sip – was the best one. Wines that make you smile and happy and appreciate all that is lovely.

Wines that make you sense they were crafted by people who loved making them.

With that we hope you’ll join our vinous family and thanks again for looking us up.

In vino veritas,

Elaine & Manfred Krankl


All the Saxum we have in store:

Saxum Vineyards is focused on producing Grenache, Syrah, and Mataro based blends from the Willow Creek District of Paso Robles. We let our rocky calcareous soils, steep hillsides, sunny days, and cooling ocean breezes speak through our wines by keeping our yields low, picking the fruit at the peak of ripeness, and using a minimalist approach in the cellar. We respect our land and farm everything sustainably without chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. Because our vine’s roots penetrate deep through the fissures in the calcareous soil irrigation is rarely needed. Production is kept around 8000 cases a year divided between ten different cuvees, Broken Stones, James Berry Vineyard, The Hexe, Bone Rock, Rocket Block, G2 Vineyard, Paderewski Vineyard, Heart Stone Vineyard, 4hearts Vineyard, and James Berry Vineyard White.


All the Alban Vineyards wines we have in the store:

Before I was old enough to drink wine (legally), I spent a lot of time wondering why Europe fermented over 500 different grape varieties, while California was using about 6. The strangest part was that people only drank 2 of the six. Fortunately, I was too young to recognize that anyone seriously planning to change how many wine types were being produced in California would have to contend with the American love affair with Cabernet and Chardonnay; our wine equivalents of chocolate and vanilla.

Far into my quest for wine grapes that would make sense for California, I celebrated my 24th birthday. That evening a friend handed me a glass of Condrieu. Knowing nothing about the wine, and informed simply (though erroneously) that it was cheap, I downed what would prove to be one of the most significant gulps of my life. Instantly I could see myself producing the world's greatest six-dollar bottle of wine. I envisioned myself hanging out with the Gallo boys. The next day I researched everything U.C. Davis had on the subject of Condrieu- about 12 sentences. I learned 3 key facts: Viognier is the grape of Condrieu, it ain't cheap, and I'd soon be moving to the Rhone if I wanted to learn much more.

I frantically completed my course work and research for my Master's in enology at Davis, immersed myself in everything Rhone, and applied for a scholarship that was being offered by the Franco-American chamber of commerce. The degree "allowed" me to start re-paying my student loans, the Rhone immersion kept me smiling, and the scholarship was my ticket to France.

While apprenticing anywhere producers would let me- from Beaujolais to Provence, I also spent a good bit of time organizing climate and soil information. Everything I found indicated that Syrah, Grenache, Viognier and Roussanne made more than mere sense for California. The information left me puzzling over how we ever planted Chardonnay from Ukiah all the way down to Temecula. I would have plenty of time to puzzle as my next 6 years would be spent 'picking up sticks'.

Vines are propagated from vines. Just as it's tough to get a chicken without an egg and vice versa, it's impossible to get vines without vines. Because there was essentially no Grenache Noir, Roussanne, or Viognier in California at that time, and the clones of Syrah were few and poorly documented, I would need a lot of time to make cuttings. Starting with only a handful of various selections, it took years to generate commercial quantities of the vines I wanted to grow.

Spending all those years in green houses, I lost touch with reality. At a time when there were fewer than 50 acres of Viognier in the world, I propagated 32. Perhaps the only wine more obscure than Viognier was varietally labeled Roussanne. Our release of pure Roussanne in 1991 was the second such wine produced globally and the first from the United States (what exactly Bergeron is remains in doubt).
Since reds take more cellar time, I originally hit the road pouring my two whites-Viognier and Roussanne. If I had not been so young and brash, I might have been discouraged by the barrage of folks who kept telling me that consumers haven't heard of these wines, and no one can pronounce Viognier (Vee-own-yeah is easy to say; tough to read. Anything with the word So-veenyown; as in Cabernet So-veen-yown is truly hard to say).

What I really discovered on my journeys was that compared to the amount of wine I had, there was an abundance of progressively minded folk all over the world open to the idea that delicious is more important than varietal recognition. I am forever indebted to the core group of courageous and passionate wine buyers and sommeliers who championed Alban Vineyards in the early years. The people who were driven to hand-sell and promote wines that in and of themselves were of little economic significance to them. These 'missionaries' nurtured the fledgling California rhone movement, and with it took our wine trade from black and white into the age of color. I am delighted to see Rhone varieties flourish throughout California and rather overwhelmed by Robert Parker's declaration in The Wine Advocate that I am "...the spiritual and qualitative leader of the movement..."

Many of our original customers are now my good friends. Some I have even worked with to help start wineries of their own focusing on Rhone varieties. Two moved to San Luis Obispo County to help organize Hospice Du Rhone- the world's largest international celebration of these wines, visit As the Rhone renaissance became truly international and significantly rooted in what happened here in California, perhaps the greatest surprise in my life thus far was how the story came full circle. In 2005 I was made an honorary citizen and Decurion of Cote Rotie and Condrieu. The sons and daughters of the producers who were terrified about my plans to develop their then threatened varieties internationally, believed that my efforts had actually accelerated recognition and interest in their own wineries. Being presented this distinction before the leaders of these key northern Rhone appellations, on their home turf, remains somewhat surreal to this day.

In some ways my life is still measured in sticks. As more people have discovered the world beyond chocolate and vanilla, there has been an explosion in plantings of these varieties. Alban Vineyards has provided a large portion of the cuttings needed to see California's Viognier acreage go from 0 to over 2000, and Syrah has jumped from a few hundred acres to more than 17,000. Grenache will be next. But the story has gone way beyond change and diversity. Of the 22 wineries in California included in Robert Parker's The World' Greatest Wine Estates, 10 currently make at least one 'Rhone', and 2 produce almost exclusively wines from Rhone varieties. While we Rhone producers may forever be 'garage bands' at heart, our stage is now very much international.