SCOTT’S BLOG: CHIMÈRE – MANFRED KRANKL’S NEWEST COLLABORATION
November 11th, 2011
Manfred Krankl of Sine Qua Non has earned his reputation as one of the most individualistic, single-minded winemakers on the planet, so it’s equally remarkable that he’s shown an affinity for collaboration as well, first with the late Alois Kracher, Jr. to create the Mr. K sweet wines, and now with Philippe Cambie and the Maurel brothers to createChimère from the vineyards of Clos St. Jean in Chateauneuf du Pape.
The opportunity to collaborate grew naturally from the mutual respect and friendship of Krankl and Cambie, built over years of tasting together and following each other’s work. Manfred relates, “I have liked him from the minute I met him…and I no longer remember when and where that was. I know he likes what we do, so there was an instant relationship.”
That personal relationship is key, as Manfred explains, “Generally I am rather partnership averse, unless it is with the ‘right people’ and done in a way that allows for each person involved to move on, without the slightest hiccup, at any time he/she wants to… Just like it was with my late friend Alois Kracher, [the partnership] is one of a simple handshake – nothing more. No piece of paper exists, no lawyer will ever be involved.”
Given both Cambie’s and Krankl’s love for Grenache, one might expect their partnership to produce a Grenache-based blend. On the other hand, anyone familiar with Krankl should know better than to expect him to be so predictable. The first vintage (2010) will be “a cuvee that is dominated by Mourvedre (93%) with 5% Grenache and a little shot of some whites for perfume. The Mourvedre is really quite wonderful, and I thought it would be more interesting to not just make another Grenache cuvee, of which they already have several different ones, and all of them are incredible.”
As followers of Sine Qua Non have come to expect, the label will feature Krankl’s artwork, and the name Chimère (or Chimera in English) has more than one meaning. Of course! In Greek mythology the Chimera was a hybrid beast with the body and head of a lioness, a tail that ends in a snake, and a goat head rising from its spine. Krankl: “But it also means ‘an illusion or fabrication of the mind – an unrealizable dream…a fancy,’ AND it is also an ‘individual part consisting of tissues of diverse genetic constitution.’”
It hasn’t been bottled yet, but it’s likely to all go into magnums, and probably fewer than 400 will be released late next year. An email to the winery to express interest is highly recommended, but no guarantees are being made to anyone – not even regarding the future sources of the fruit. Manfred explains, “It could be that there will be a wine from the Rhone one year and from the Central Coast another. But for now 2010 and 2011 are both slotted to be from the vineyards of Clos St. Jean.”
That should make for interesting classification, as wine lovers try to define exactly what Chimère is. But then, as his 2007 Syrah taught us, Manfred absolutely hates labels!