A previous brush with death for Manfred Krankl inspired the 17th Nail in my Cranium, as in his. Manfred Krankl used that image on the 2005 Sine Qua Non Syrah Sta. Rita Hilla Eleven Confessions Vineyard (98 points, $200 on release).
An empty barrel fell off a rack and split open his head, leaving Krankl in a pool of blood and requiring 16 stitches.
One wonders what inspiration or message Krankl might have in store for an upcoming label after surviving a near-fatal motorcycle crash almost a year ago near his home in Ojai, Calif. With the 2015 harvest now underway, he's happily on the comeback trail, though still in physical therapy.
He is also celebrating the publication of his hefty new book, The Art of Sine Qua Non (Cameron & Co.), a 250-page tome that chronicles the story of his life through the wines and their labels, most of which are reproduced in the book, along with some of those that were rejected by the TTB. It's a tour de force that showcases Krankl's talent as an artist and a wordsmith, and a wonderful glimpse into his inner sanctum.
Members of the Sine Qua Non mailing list had first crack at The Art of Sine Qua Non; 350 special-edition copies were accompanied by a magnum of 2012 Petite Sirah that is classic SQN, underscoring Krankl's belief in ripeness and double entendre: Named "The Writing on the Wall," it's deep and assertive, mixing power with finesse accented by a luxurious texture. Those limited-edition box sets quickly sold out, but the book is also available on its own for $190.
"For some odd reason I have always had a little soft spot for that variety, and I have always wondered why people don't try to do more with it," he wrote in an e-mail. "I have given up wondering and decided to give it a try myself. We now have it planted at three different estate vineyards," those being Eleven Confessions near Buellton, The Third Twin near Los Alamos and at the Krankls' home vineyard, Cumulus, near Ojai. "Without a lot of attention it can become a little rustic, but I do believe with love and care it can be quite special."
Krankl only made 356 magnums of The Writing on the Wall. It's 94 percent Petite Sirah that was cofermented with Viognier. The fruit came mostly (80 percent) from The Third Twin, with lesser amounts from Cumulus, and the Viognier from Eleven Confessions Vineyard. He is quite pleased by the result, enough so to keep Petite in the stable.