The bottle is empty. That counts for something, right?

It’s hard for me not to like Mr. Thackrey as a renegade intellect in this industry—his philosophy is very much in line with mine right down to the rambling and often self-contradictory nature (for more long-winded details from the man himself, look here). When a wine-maker is as outspoken about the balance of place, fruit, and the craft/art/alchemy of wine-making (while minimizing the importance of each of those individually), the expectation is that those elements should present themselves obviously and indelibly as specific to that wine-maker. The problem is, I’ve never thought he has achieved that as well as others who aren’t as obsessed with the idea. Perhaps this is a “can’t see the forest for the trees” situation for him and/or me.

I have always consumed his wines with ambivalence. Sure, they’re generally pretty good, but are they successful at conveying what he wishes them to? I hope not, because, while it is a stated goal, I can’t imagine that all he is shooting for is simple pleasure. Otherwise, why chose such curious vineyard sites and such esoteric grape varieties? When creating a broad non-vintage blend like Pleiades (which varies in composition every year) wherein fruit is sourced from various sites, nearly all that remains is a sense of wine-maker’s influence—there is no balance of place, fruit, and craft.  This is in line with his belief in the indelible imprint of the wine-maker on his wine even in the least interventionist manner of production. But it steers towards his obsession being reduced to self-importance (intentional or not).

Oh, well. He would ultimately say something like, “all that matters is what is in the glass now”, anyway. So here’s what is in mine:

Pleiades XX
Light-to-medium-bodied strawberry-and-clay red. Clearly a good amount of Sangiovese and Pinot Noir in the blend but, also, a good bit of aroma-lifiting and spicy Viognier in there to lighten the whole thing. Served just right at about 60° F which allows the lightness of body to shine. It is nice the way the Viognier lifts the dominant floral Sangiovese, spiciness of the Pinot Noir/Zinfandel, and the touch of earthy Mourvédre, but I would have liked some mid-palate acid to call me back to the glass. Juicy strawberry and ripe cherry fruit with undertones of earthy spice and a surprisingly dominant salinity. Tasty and easy-drinking if a bit lacking in the vibrancy expected of such a blend. The fruit-sweetness countered the spicy heat of my basic chili spot-on. Got the wife and me tipsy, so it worked as expected in that regard. Not particularly “special”, but certainly very drinkable and pleasant and will find plenty of enthusiastic drinkers. Drink now—do not wait, as it is just barely clinging to its peak.

⚄⚂.⚄