Thackrey

It’s no secret that California winemaking attracts plenty of entrepreneurs and artisans,  characters who seem larger than life. But in a world of “class acts,” Sean Thackrey occupies a class of his own. He crafts his wines in a redwood barn in Bolinas, a small town on the coast about 45 km north of San Francisco – i.e. nowhere near the wine country. He came to winemaking with no experience, after a successful career as an art dealer. Aside from a course or two on winemaking chemistry, he is entirely self-taught. Indeed, he derives more knowledge from obscure winemaking texts hundreds of years old than from any newfangled research to come out of UC Davis. As a result, his methods are quirky and instinctual compared with those used by more empirical winemakers. He’s been known to improvise his way through a harvest, deciding on the spot whether or not to soak, to de-stem, to ferment warm or cool, to punch down or to pump over. He says turning grapes into wine is like a cook turning salmon into a meal. The methods are there to make delicious wine from a particular lot of grapes – not to serve principal or notions of correctness.    Nevertheless, Thackrey is one of the true pioneers in the art of discovering and making wine from old, neglected vineyards. Thackrey made his first Orion, a field blend of mostly Syrah from an old vineyard near Yountville, in 1983. This was during the first great Chardonnay boom, when more Zinfandel went into “White Zinfandel” than was made red and full-bodied. However, the critical acclaim for Thackrey’s constellation-named old vine blends has led more winemakers as well as old farming families to recognize the value in these vineyards lurking along the back roads of Napa, Sonoma and Mendicino counties. Unfortunately, Thackrey has sometimes lost a good source of fruit as when a vineyard is sold to a more deep-pocketed winery.  Currently Thackrey produces about 5,000 cases a year of proprietary blends and varietal wines. As for the stars and constellations that name his wines, he’s said they are a “symbol of the antiquity and mystery of my craft, which I could have practiced essentially unchanged in the Sumeria of the Gilgamesh epic.”

Wines from this Winery

NV Thackrey "Pleiades" XXIV

NV Thackrey "Pleiades" XXIV

The constellation Pleiades is a tight agglomeration of stars so bunched together one needs to look carefully to make out the individual components. That may be an apt analogy for this non-vintage wine, which Thackrey appears to create by throwing together whatever grapes he has on hand in a particular year. This blend likely includes Sangiovese, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Mourvedre, but nobody but Thackrey himself knows for sure. But does one really need to know the DNA of a wine whose whole is light years away from the sum of its parts? The main point is to just luxuriate in the intense pleasure it creates!

Details
¥ 5,000
Out of Stock
Thackrey

Thackrey "La Pleiade" II

La Pleiade is an evocatively aromatic, luscious, mineral-driven white blend whose varietal components, vineyards of origin and even vintages are shrouded in mystery. As Sean Thackrey's white counterpart to his popular Pleiades, even the name is a mystery, referencing the celestial constellation or, perhaps, a group of rebellious 16th century French poets, who broke with tradition by writing in French. A rebel among winemakers, Thackrey breaks plenty of rules in crafting his unique vision of a California white wine. Blending different vintages as well as grape varieties and subjecting them to more skin contact than usual has produced a dry wine that’s full-bodied and a bit chewy with lovely floral aromatics, stone fruit flavors, acidity and minerality. La Pleïade will pair well with a range of dishes from grilled fish or chicken to goat’s and sheep’s milk cheeses.

Details
¥ 5,000
2013 Thackrey

2013 Thackrey "Lyra" Noble Vineyard Viognier

Even though Lyra was Sean Thackrey’s first white wine (now joined by the La Pleiade blend), he understands what makes Viognier so compelling: “extraordinary voluptuousness of aromas, complex palate of tropical fruits and flowers, and richness of texture.” Those qualities are not easy to achieve. Vionier vines require plenty of warmth and sunlight to produce very ripe grapes but not too much heat – or else the wine will be all alcohol and no flavor. The Noble Vineyard appears perfectly situated to produce excellent Viognier. The Knight’s Valley – between Calistoga and the Alexander Valley – is one of Sonoma’s warmest regions, yet it cools down enough during summer evenings to moderate the ripening of Viognier grapes. About Lyra Viognier, Sean Thackrey says, “It is not a wine for puritans, oenological of otherwise, and bears little resemblance to most other white wines. Those whom it seduces will revel in the experience.”

Details
¥ 7,300
2013 Thackrey

2013 Thackrey "Sirius"

Perched on high mountain ridges 550 m above the Ukiah Valley in Mendicino County, the Eaglepoint Ranch was planted in 1975 to several robust “heritage” varietals such as Syrah, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. Once a key player in California wine, especially as a blending grape that added tannin, color and acidity, Petite Sirah has struggled against declining popularity in recent decades. But prospects are improving in the inland hills of Mendicino County, where the grape does well in a somewhat shorter growing season that can feature some extremely hot summer days. Eaglepoint Ranch Petite has been singled out for elegance in addition to its nuanced fruitiness, and Robert Parker has hailed Sirius to be “about as good as Petite Sirah gets in California.

Details
¥ 8,900
2013 Thackrey

2013 Thackrey "Orion"

“California Native Red Wine” only scratches the surface of this mysterious wine. As a field blend of Syrah and a few other varieties planted in 1905, the Rossi Vineyard is certainly a “California native.” However, Thackrey’s research suggests that Syrah in late 19th century California differed significantly from the modern version of that grape; indeed, his hunch is that the Rossi vineyard is planted to clones from the great vineyards of Hermitage that were later wiped out by phylloxera. We’ll never know for sure. But we do know that Thackrey has been making stunning wines from these vines since 1992. Every vintage differs from the last, in particular because Thackrey modifies his winemaking each year to suit the character of the fruit.

Details
¥ 17,000
2000 Thackrey

2000 Thackrey "Orion" (1.5L)

“California Native Red Wine” only scratches the surface of this mysterious wine. As a field blend of Syrah and a few other varieties planted in 1905, the Rossi Vineyard is certainly a “California native.” However, Thackrey’s research suggests that Syrah in late 19th century California differed significantly from the modern version of that grape; indeed, his hunch is that the Rossi vineyard is planted to clones from the great vineyards of Hermitage that were later wiped out by phylloxera. We’ll never know for sure. But we do know that Thackrey has been making stunning wines from these vines since 1992. Every vintage differs from the last, in particular because Thackrey modifies his winemaking each year to suit the character of the fruit.

Details
¥ 34,000