Sean Thackrey Aquila Sangiovese 2002

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I’ve written about Sean Thackrey before, whose wines are both iconic and atypical for California. Thackrey embraces California’s terroir and the ripeness of the grapes but his vinification techniques are unlike almost anyone else (open vat fermentation under the stars for one) and he has extremely detailed clone based blending techniques, as he believes clones are one of the most important variables in the character of a wine.

Two Rarities Conspiring for Quality

Until the recession these wines were nearly impossible to find even in California. These days they have become a little more accessible and, just recently, some of them have even made their way into our market.

One of the more exciting claims made by Thackrey is that his unique wines can age incredibly well and change dramatically over time. So it was with great relish that I picked up this 9 year old Sangiovese made from fruit from Eaglepoint Ranch, Mendocino, California. This now discontinued wine is unlike old world Sangiovese and it also shows up the oh so many unpleasant and poorly made Sangioveses that California wineries have attempted to produce over the years. These wines were so bad that most critics simply came to believe that Sangiovese does not grow well in California. While this is mostly true, Thackrey shows his talents by making something special out of the grape.

The Wine

This is big bold California wine that is also supple and smooth on the palate. The fruit is dense and ripe but also of very high quality so that it hides the nearly 16% alcohol very well. Thackrey’s wines always have a distinctive herbal and medicinal quality that was also present in this wine and may be an acquired taste for some. For me it adds a unique touch to the wine and seems at home in the melange of fruit and oak flavours that Thackrey crafted into what is probably California’s best Sangiovese. This is not a cheap wine, but it is most certainly one worth trying, particularly if you like richer wines, but have become bored with the mainstream in California wine production.

$90 at Kits Wine Cellar


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