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Spotlight on: Sine Qua Non Syrah

Syrah from quirky California producer in high demand at auctions

John Siudut
Posted: March 26, 2008

Sine Qua Non is a quirky California label run by winemaker Manfred Krankl, who began making his own wines in 1994 to supply the restaurant Campanile where he was the managing partner and wine buyer. Krankl gives each vintage and blend a unique name, bottle and label (which he designs himself), and the small-production wines are released only to mailing list customers. As such, there is high demand for the Sine Qua Non wines in the auction market: the Syrah-based wines have appreciated by 163% in price since the second quarter of 1999. In comparison, the Wine Spectator Auction Index, which tracks 32 collectible wines, has seen a 128% rate of return in the same time period.

Sine Qua Non Syrahs were among the first California Syrahs to draw a significant trading volume in the auction market, along with Araujo Eisele Vineyard Syrah and Kongsgaard Syrah from Napa. Today Sine Qua Non Syrahs are all selling in a price range between $300 and $2000. At the high end, the Queen of Spades 1994 (92 points, $31 release, $1,089 current), which entered the auction market at $537, now sells for $1,089 and recently sold as high as $1,983 when a three bottle lot sold for $5,950 at Zachys June 15th Auction last year. Other wines, like Impostor McCoy California 1997 (92 Points, $59 release, $363 current) and In Flagrante California 2000 (90 points, $87 release, $336 current) are sold within the $300 to $500 range. The newest Syrah based wine, Poker Face (non-rated) from the great 2004 vintage, has captured the attention of the auction world, selling 159 bottles since it began trading in the second quarter of 2007 at $400 and now averages $504 a bottle.

Acker Merrall Condit's sale on Saturday, March 29, 2008 is featuring many mixed and single lots of Sine Qua Non wines, including 3 bottles of Poker Face with a high estimate at $500 a bottle.

This data comes from the Wine Spectator Auction Index, a composite of average prices for wines sold at commercial auctions. The prices are indexed to 100 in the second quarter of 1999. This chart plots the index value for all Sine Qua Non Syrah-based wines sold at auction against the index value of the Wine Spectator Auction Index.

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