Case Study: Sine Qua Non Queen of Hearts 1995

In our latest blog entry, we traced the history of Lafite Rothschild 2000 from its initial release to the present day, using market data to argue that the wine represents a smart investment. Here, we will examine a so-called “unicorn wine,” Sine Qua Non’s Queen of Hearts 1995, and make the opposite claim.

Sine Qua Non is a cult winery based in Ventura County, California that produces highly extracted wines made from Rhone varietals that are notoriously difficult to acquire. The estate never makes the same wine twice, names and labels each of their wines differently year after year, and sells 100% of its wine directly to a mailing list with a waitlist thousands of names deep. In 1995, the winery’s first commercial vintage, Sine Qua Non produced 300 bottles of a rose wine called Queen of Hearts that was never intended for the market and was instead gifted to friends and associates. However, as proprietor Manfried Krankl recounts, “lo and behold some of these 'friends' went about and sold their gifts," and based on the hype surrounding the wine’s name, label design, backstory, and extreme scarcity, the price on the secondary market skyrocketed. In 2014, a bottle was sold to an anonymous buyer on the auction website WineBid for a total of $42,780, an unprecedented sum for a bottle of rose wine. Today, a retailer in London is offering a single bottle online for the equivalent of $96,066 USD. Some aficionados liken this rare, one-off bottling to a work of art, but to me, this comparison does not provide a sound basis for investment. Generally speaking, rose wine is meant to be consumed in the year after the harvest date on the label, as it lacks the phenolic properties for long-term cellaring. As such, the wine is likely oxidized and undrinkable at the present moment, and will not improve in the bottle with additional aging. Because of this, we believe that the speculative bubble surrounding Queen of Hearts will burst as the corks are finally popped, so we do not recommend this wine for investment purposes.

Estate Wine Brokers several recent vintage wines from Sine Qua Non including Omega Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir 2003Dark Blossom Syrah 2011, and The Moment White Blend 2011.