First wine tasted, the 2010 Sean Thackrey Viognier “Lyra” Noble Vineyard Knights Valley was a rich, structured white wine with an unctuous, honeyed texture. On the nose, the aromas of tropical fruit, peach pit, buttered toast, butterscotch, and white flowers prevailed, while the palate revealed lots of body, a good bit of alcohol, yet dry with medium acidity and a medium slightly bitter finish. This is a powerful Viognier, hard to drink on its own, yet skillfully paired with a smoked duck salad, with roasted cabbage, and grapes, tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette. The salads’ acidity cut through the Viognier’s richness, and balanced the streak of minerality from the wine. It sells for $39.
Second wine, the Sean Thackrey “Pleiades” Old Vines XXI California is a non-vintage red wine blend of whatever orphan barrels were left over from making his other wines. Thackrey makes “Pleiades” like a chef, concocting a soup whose recipe changes according to what’s best and available each year. Thackrey blends red and white grape varieties, different regions, and even different vintages, to make an intriguing wine. This 21st annual bottling is seductive, a savory, pale ruby red wine, with lots of black cherry, raspberry, black plum fruit, framed with gardenia and orange blossom aromas, and a little smokey oak. Anise and eucalyptus notes contribute to its complex aroma. While it’s impossible to definitively identify all the grapes used, certainly the dark plum fruit of Sangiovese, the red and black cherry earthiness of Pinot Noir, the floral quality of Viognier, the spice of Syrah, and the gamey edge of Mourvedre made themselves known. This blend of grapes is in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape tradition of combining up to 13 varietals into a intense, savory, sun-kissed brew. It’s earthy and fragrant right now, and will get fatter over time. “Pleiades” is perhaps the easiest Thackrey wine to find, and certainly a great deal at $26 a bottle. Heirloom LA’s signature lasagna cupcake was paired with the wine, hand-made pasta dough sheets layered with carrot puree and smoked mozzarella, truly an ethereal experience!
Third wine, the 2010 Sean Thackrey Pinot Noir “Cassiopeia” Wentzel Vineyard Anderson Valley Mendocino, is a new project for Thackrey. 100% Pinot Noir, it explores clonal influences of a single grape varietal. Blended from four Dijon Pinot clones (for the wine geeks among us), this rich Pinot Noir has big red and black cherry fruit, cinnamon spice, and earth. It went well with Heirloom LA’s seared branzino, on a bed of saffron couscous with preserved lemon, red bell pepper, and pine nuts. “Cassiopeia” sells for $49.
Fourth wine, the 2009 Sean Thackrey Petite Sirah “Sirius” Eaglepoint Ranch Mendocino is a powerful red wine, jam-packed with blackberry, blueberry, camphor, pepper and spice. Pure fruit, round tannins, and an herbal edge, it’s one of the best examples of California Petite Sirah, and in case you were wondering, not related to Syrah. “Sirius” is crafted for the present and future, beautiful fruit that can be enjoyed now, and excellent aging potential for the next 20 years. It retails for $49 a bottle. Heirloom LA paired this dark beauty with their luscious shepherd’s pie, made from roasted free-range turkey, wild mushrooms, peas and carrots, with a mashed potato top crust. Wow, what a treat!
Robert Parker calls Sean Thackrey “one of California’s most iconic and mystical winemakers” and when you taste his wines, you’ll understand why they sell out so quickly. His alchemy of harvested grapes, fermented outside under the stars, and then swirled into a magical elixir, has garnered a large following for his small production wines. In fact, most of his wines are difficult to find. These artisan wines of the world find their way to Silverlake Wine, and take their turn in the spotlight of Sundays at Three. It’s a fun Sunday afternoon that will enrich your wine speak and delight the wine aficionado in us all.