Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Steve's visit with Sean Thackrey, the hidden Mastermind
www.wine-maker.net <-- this is a MUST-see website for winos and history buffs
Walk into the 'barn' of Sean Thackrey and prepare to be shell-shocked with reality and long-lost passion that California winemaking once was.
Deep in the thicket of Bolinas, California...past the winding beach towns of Stinson Beach, across the inlet bay, sits the mastermind at work at his over-sized wooden table. Notebooks, tasting sheets, winemaking books, beakers, and vintage Russian plastic glove molds line his shelves. This is where the winemaker/ philosopher/storyteller conducts his business.
Sean has been making small quantities of wine in a 2 story wooden barn, the size of a single-family home, with the rustic feel of a mountain cabin for many years. I have been carrying his wine for awhile because it is so delicious and unique, but I didn't know the full extent of how minimalistic and old-world his practices were until this highly-anticipated visit came to fruition.
This guy is awesome. His barn is full of very mature barrels that he is conducting real experiments in. 4 different clones of pinot noir, grown in the same vineyard, with the same exact conditions, and now being made into wine in the exact same style. Sean feels what he is doing is revolutionary, and it is. The best part about it, is how humble and real he is about wine. I can't tell you how many times he exploded into laughter just talking about the wine industry, how much it has changed, and how "funny" its people are.
As Sean unleashed the fury of his technical wine knowledge, background and stories making wine, he kept refilling my glass with something new of his. His 'Orion' blend is his flagship wine and what he is known for. However, his 'Pleiades' wine is something to really talk about (side note: all his wines are named after constellations, and bear a little gold moon on the label which symbolizes how wine changes and reveals itself in time). It's a non-vintage wine that he makes and consists of pinot noir and viognier. He also has some syrah, mouvedre and sangiovese to name a few more, along with grapes that are unknown. That is what makes this wine fantastic- his attention to detail with homage given to the past.
All of his wines are expressive, rich in color and flavor, and just taste raw (in a good way). After hours of conversation with Sean, I can honestly say this guy loves wine and everything about it and those are the kind of winemakers worth knowing.