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Thackrey is an eccentric, some say enigmatic winemaker who crafts his distinctive wines at his home in the town of Bolinas which he bought in 1970 ("Time in Bolinas is so very small, the clock on the courthouse ain't working at all....and the mayor of Bolinas is digging for clams, but folks in Bolinas don't give a damn") He likes to tell the story that he loved the view from the house but wanted to spruce up the fence, so he planted grapevines along its base which eventually produced grapes which lead him to....you can see where it led him.
In his bib overalls with the words, "Famous Winemaker," embroidered on the bag in gold letters, Thackery strikes you as a farmer, but when you speak with him he impresses you as a scholar. If you visit his website, www.wine-maker.net, you will find a beautifully composed review of the history of the making and understanding of wine. It is derived from his over 600 volumes of old and ancient texts on wine that form his personal library. He uses these texts as inspiration for his winemaking in contradistinction to most winemakers who use the latest information from University of California Davis as their guide. The information provided on the website is a prodigious undertaking but reads clearly and is well-organized. If you want to find out about his wines, you have to look elsewhere!
Many of his winemaking techniques are historical and for the most part were abandoned about the same time as the invention of shoes. He is suspicious (or disdainful) of the University of California at Davis approach to winemaking, criticizing their technique as sterile in nature. He is committed to creating natural wines and is more than willing to take risks in order to create wines of personality.
I believe the first vintage for Andromeda was 2002 and most people are surprised to find out that Thackrey crafts a Pinot Noir. His Devil’s Gulch Vineyard Pinot Noir is like no other Marin County wine with more heft and alcohol than any other. The wines are not described on the website and are sold to a mailing list with limited retail distribution.
2015 Sean Thackrey Andromeda Devil’s Gulch Ranch Marin County Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., 329 cases, $60. Produced and bottled by Sean Thackrey, Bolinas, CA. Grower Mark Pasternak only sells Pinot Noir grapes to Sean Thackrey and Dan Goldfield for vineyard-designated bottlings. Devil’s Gulch Vineyard is located above Nicasio and is one of the cooler and windier Pinot Noir growing sites in California. Yields are small due to wind that interferes with pollination, often less than 1 ton per acre. Thackrey aims for a wine “that is uniquely expressive and one that is wilder and more mysterious and not meant to be light and simple.” Aged 13 months in neutral French oak barrels. · Moderately light garnet color in the glass. A very interesting nose with uncommon aromas of peppermint basil, herbcoated black cherries, peppered beef and earthy flora. Rather bold in a mid weight plus style, with generous flavors of black cherry, blackberry and brewed tea. Plush in feel, with commendable balance and with a density that does not sacrifice charm. A truly unique wine from a challenging site crafted by a contemplative winemaker. Score: 94. Reviewed August 6, 2017 ARTICLE »
2010 Sean Thackery Cassiopeia Wentzel Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., $45. Named for the constellation, this is Thackery’s newest project, conceived as an exploration of clonal influence. There are five wines that make up the Cassiopeia project: four made from a single Dijon clone (114, 115, 667 or 777) all grafted to identical rootstock, planted at the same time, farmed identically and subject to the same exposure at the Wentzel Vineyard. This, the fifth wine, is a blend of all four clones to demonstrate how the characteristics of each informs the wine. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of dark red berries, briar, oak, herbs, and exotic flowers. Medium bodied flavors of dark red cherries and berries with a backing of savory herbs. A bit exotic and intriguing. Lovely soft and polished mouthfeel. More expressive aromatically the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Very good. Reviewed October 2, 2012 ARTICLE »
2008 Sean Thackrey Andromeda Devil’s Gulch Vineyard Marin County Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., $45. · Moderately light in color. Unique array of aromas including green garden, cut flowers, and Ponzu. The flavors are unusual and challenging to describe in the manner that I have come to expect from this quirky, talented producer. The wine does not follow the usual hardline flavor profile of Pinot Noir but does offer some tasty black cherry and berry fruit. A leafy, green note runs consistently through the taste profile as well as oakderived vanilla. Soft in the mouth and nicely balanced, this wine was more interesting the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Could be very interesting a few years down the road. For the adventurous. Good (+). (Note: Sean Thackrey:Wine Maker website is a highly recommended visit if you have any interest in the history of winemaking) Reviewed March 2, 2011 ARTICLE »
2007 Andromeda Devil’s Gulch Ranch Marin County Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., $45. · Unusual aromatics featuring floral, particularly roseate, musk and sage scents. The pedigree of the fruit shows through on the palate with the fruitiness offset with notes of spice and edible flowers. Smoothly textured with soft tannins and respectable finesse. Failed to noticeably improve after two days from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, so I am not sure cellaring will significantly alter the wine. Very good (-). Reviewed February 15, 2010 ARTICLE »
2006 Sean Thackrery Andromeda Devils Gulch Ranch Vineyard Marin County Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 50. · Quite a departure from the 2002 and 2004 vintages. Much lighter and redder in color. Subdued redder Pinot fruits on a light frame with moderate tannins that need to be shed. Savory herbs add interest. Reviewed January 14, 2009 ARTICLE »
2004 Sean Thackrey Andromeda Devil’s Gulch Vineyard Marin County Pinot Noir
$60. I believe the first vintage for Andromeda was 2002 and most people are surprised to find out that Thackrey crafts a Pinot Noir. His Devil’s Gulch Vineyard Pinot Noir is like no other Marin County wine with more heft and alcohol than any other. Thackrey’s wines are sold through a few top wine retailers (use Thackrey’s wine finder feature on his website to locate) and to a mailing list. 40% of his wine is exported. The label at the right is for another of Thackrey’s wines, Orion, but the Andromeda label is very similar. · Hovering well over 15% alcohol, his Pinot Noir is heavy with thickly-layered dark fruit and a mouth coating finish. There are aromas and flavors here that defy description. Maybe some wooly mammoth or even pterodactyl. Loaded with teeth staining Pinot extract, it lends itself to sipping, much like a fine Port. Reviewed July 16, 2007 ARTICLE »
2004 Sean Thackrery Andromeda Devils Gulch Ranch Vineyard Marin County Pinot Noir
15.3% alc., $80 on secondary market. · Similar to the 2002 vintage, but less fruity and fresher. Aromas of fermenting berries, herbs, sassafras and exotic wood. Rich, sweet black raspberry fruit that is well-collared with soft tannins and a long follow-through on a dry finish. The alcohol is nicely integrated. Reviewed January 14, 2009 ARTICLE »
2003 Sean Thackrey Andromedia Devil’s Gulch Vineyard Marin County Pinot Noir
15.2% alc.. · A very unique style that has the imprint of winemaker Thackrey. Plenty to like here and the alcohol is fully integrated. Reviewed November 26, 2006 ARTICLE »
2002 Sean Thackrery Andromeda Devils Gulch Ranch Vineyard Marin County Pinot Noir
15.1% alc., $50-$90 on secondary market. · Pleasing aromas of dark cherry syrup, black raspberries, chocolate, herbs and wet oak. Fully ripened fruit flavors including earth-dusted raspberries and raisins with a touch of aged dark oak in the background. Silky smooth in texture with a good acid cut at the end. This wine has aged gracefully. Reviewed January 14, 2009 ARTICLE »