Sine Qua Non 'Papa' Syrah 2003 (Wax Capped) Rated 98 points!

The Wine Advocate (Robert Parker) – Rated 98 Points
There are 860 cases of the 2003 SQN Papa, a blend of 97% Syrah, 2% Mourvedre, and 1% Grenache sourced from six different vineyards. An old black and white photograph of Manfred Krankl’s father holding a baby with a head the size of a large watermelon (presumably Manfred) serves as the label for this wine, which has just about everything one could want in a great Syrah. It exhibits extraordinary power and richness along with large quantities of sexy, seductive cassis, black cherries, and a chocolaty undertone. Unctuously textured, rich, and full, it will provide amazing drinking over the next 10-15 years.
“Now that Krankl has reached the apex of a kind of insider-y fame–it’s got to give you a warm feeling when the definitive wine critic, Robert Parker, dubs you “One of the most creative and multidimensional winemakers on Planet Earth”–his comfort level with all the weirdness has taken on the afterglow of shrewd marketing jujitsu. Make your wine in a warehouse in a rundown suburb of Los Angeles? That’s…authentic! Refuse to expand production beyond the 3,500 cases you can personally make and shepherd along? Cunning dog…create scarcity! And the doozy: Give each new bottling, in each vintage, a completely new name (“Imposter McCoy,” say, for a 1997 Syrah, or “Poker Face” for a 2004 Syrah) and a new label design with your own sly, often psychologically dark, artwork. That’s…well, that’s confusing.
The Syrah blends, in particular, have triggered collectors’ feeding instincts. The Wine Spectator‘s Auction Index, which tracks 32 trophy wines, showed Sine Qua Non’s Syrahs trading at between $300 and $2,000 a bottle in early 2008. While the overall Index for these wines had climbed 128 percent since 1999, Sine Qua Non Syrahs had gone up 163 percent.
But these wines are originals, and people obviously cherish special feelings for them. Divorcing customers have wrangled over who gets the slot on Krankl’s buyers’ list, and one man who believed he had been skipped over on the waiting list recently had his attorney threaten Krankl with legal action. Even the modest amount of his wine that makes its way into restaurants may prove elusive. A New York sommelier once confided to me that he steered diners he deemed unworthy–too much money, too little soul–away from his small allocation of Sine Qua Non.
These Syrahs–like all of Krankl’s wines–are unapologetically Californian, generally high in alcohol and made from very ripe fruit, but Krankl says, “I have never had a desire to make the biggest wine. There is no art to that.” What he wants instead is “…a wine that is not purely intellectual, that has sex appeal to it, that is juicy and full-bodied but does have a certain liveliness and agility and grace, that isn’t a fruit bomb–I don’t know if that constitutes a philosophy.” He imagines his wines occupying a middle ground on the continuum between the superdense, color-saturated artisanal Shirazes of Australia and the layered, leaner reds of the northern Rhône Valley and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.”