September 27, 2022

Sine Qua Non toast, part 7: 11 Confessions

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We last saw our friend just over 3 years ago, before China shuts its borders with the rest of the world including Hong Kong. He is passing through Hong Kong on his way across the Pacific, and it seemed like a good time to gather the troups for another blowout featuring the wines of Sine Qua Non. REX Wine and Grill was chosen as the venue for this gathering, which gave me an opportunity to finally try Chef Nathan Green's cooking.

We started with some amuses bouches:

Gougères - definitely got some kick inside, perhaps thanks to yellow mustard.

Mackerel tartlet - with bottarga on top. These had pretty big and bold flavors.

Crispy pig ears - with malt and vinegar in the batter. They look like Mozzarella sticks, actually. These were nice and crunchy. The sauce on the side was like a tartar sauce but with additional kick... maybe with yellow mustard.

Onion tart - on top of the pastry sheets we had some caramelized onions, mushroom, and "beef cold cut"... believed to be bressola.

Burrata and figs, culatello, walnuts, aged balsamic

REX steak tartare, bone marrow toast, seasonal pickles - pretty nice, definitely got that spicy kick. Of course the bone marrow toast on the side was nice, but too little bone marrow!

Venison carpaccio, pickled girolles, ramps - none of us understood why the chef decided to add this sweet citrus fruit dressing on top...

Lobster and scallop raviolo, Champagne sauce, n25 oscietra caviar - this was decent.

Green apple sorbet - with a little Calvados poured on top. Our palate-cleanser.

Scottona bone-in ribeye

Honestly, the flavors were decent. Good amount of smoky flavors. The problem was the quality of the product, and some complained about excessive tendons and sinews which made the beef too chewy.

Rubia Gallega, 9 year-old, bone-in ribeye

Rubia Galega is arguably my favorite beef, but this one fell pretty short in terms of flavor. It also came with a ton of connective tissue, which many of us found annoying. Another let down coming from the quality of the product.

Beef dripping chips, malted vinegar - we joked that these were like as big as a quarter or even a third of a potato. Nice and crispy on the outside, I found myself unable to stop eating these despite the fact that I don't like fat chips.

Potato cake, sautéed duck heart - a little on the salty side. The duck hearts were certainly not for the faint-hearted...

Since this was the first time in a long while that we were able to get together with our friend from just across the Shenzhen Bay Bridge, it seemed an even better idea for everyone to bring a bottle from the winery's estate Eleven Confessions Vineyard. We coordinated so that not only did everyone brought a syrah, we ended up bringing 8 consecutive vintages.

2012 Sine Qua Non In the Abstract - 35% chardonnay, 32% roussanne, 17% viognier, 16% petite manseng. Very prominent nose of tropical fruits, so fragrant, lots of popcorn and toast, very floral, very ripe, with apricot notes. Very big and voluptuous.

2015 Sine Qua Non Entre Chien et Loup - 44% chardonnay, 40% roussanne, 8% viognier, 8% petite manseng. Leaner and more focused, more flint and lemon on the nose. Still got that sweetness but not so vanilla or candy-like. Some 45 minutes after opening there was a bit more acetone, as well as some vanilla on the edges.

2004 Sine Qua Non Ode to E Syrah - 94% syrah, 4% grenache, 2% viognier. Served more than 3½ hours after opening, not decanted. Very ripe, a little minty, with vanilla oak, and blueberries. Pretty damn sweet and very enjoyable. Arguably the wine of the evening.

2005 Sine Qua Non 17th Nail in My Cranium - 97% syrah, 3% viognier. Served 4 hours after opening without decanting but slightly warmer than preferred. A bit more concentrated than Ode to E, with lots of toasty oak, very open and fragrant. This did have a little hint of green notes, with some pine needles. Still drinking very well.

2006 Sine Qua Non A Shot in the Dark - 96.5% syrah, 3.5% viognier. Served 4 hours after opening without decanting. Very ripe and jammy, but still a little sharp on the nose.

2007 Sine Qua Non Dangerous Birds Syrah - 93% syrah, 4.5% grenache, 2.5% viognier. Served almost 3½ hours after opening without decanting. Nose was not as open as A Shot in the Dark, but more concentrated on the palate.

2008 Sine Qua Non The Duel Syrah - 93% syrah, 4% grenache, 3% viognier. Opened a little more than an hour before serving without decanting. Nose was still fairly closed.

2009 Sine Qua Non This is Not an Exit Syrah - 80% syrah, 12% grenache, 7% roussanne, 1% viognier. Decanted 3 hours after opening, and served more than 2 hours after decanting. Very smooth and drinking nicely.

2010 Sine Qua Non Stockholm Syndrome Syrah - 96% syrah, 3% grenache, 1% viognier. Decanted 2½ hours after opening and served some 2 hours after decanting. This was more open than the others in the same flight. Pretty rich but nicely balanced. Clearly the best of the three in this flight.

2011 Sine Qua Non Patine Syrah - 93% syrah, 4% petite sirah, 1.6% roussanne, 1.4% viognier. Served about 2 hours after decanting. Somehow this seemed more developed on the palate.

1998 Mr. K TBA - from viognier. Honeydew, a little acetone, honey, and marmalade. Really sweet on the nose and of course on the palate.

A pretty epic evening, and we are definitely looking for the next edition... feature the grenache counterparts.

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