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george wine company, vintage IV

Regular readers of the PinotFile will know the story of george wine company. George Levkoff had his wine epiphany when a friend brought a 1991 and 1992 Williams Selyem Rochioli Vineyard Pinot Noir to share at dinner. Four years later, he left his job as a bond trader on Wall Street and headed west to Sonoma. He interned at Williams Selyem from 1999 to 2002, learning the winemaking process. He also worked at the smaller Brogan Cellars which was more closely modeled after the type of winery he hoped to have for himself. With grapes from David Hirsch of Sonoma Coast’s Hirsch Vineyard, he released 150 cases of his inaugural Pinot Noirs in 2003 (Block 3A from the Pommard clone and Block 4A from the Mt. Eden clone). The wines immediately caught the attention of top sommeliers at restaurants in Las Vegas and New York and his Pinot Noir has become quite a cult wine. I have been a fan from the beginning, entranced by the elegance and sensuality that his wines exhibit.

Vintage II (2004) consisted of 125 cases of Hirsch Block 3A and Block 4A Pinot Noir and 125 cases of Martinelli Nuptial Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Vintage III (2005) yields were miniscule at Hirsch and george only made tiny amounts of Hirsch Pinot Noir along with the Martinelli Nuptial Vineyard Pinot Noir. The Vintage IV (2006) offering has just come out. With this latest vintage, george has achieved his initial goal of producing 500 cases of Pinot Noir. The releases include the 2006 george Martinelli Nuptial Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (300 cases), 2006 george Leras Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (100 cases - farmed by Nick Leras since 1957) and 2006 george Marta Ella Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (100 cases - this vineyard is adjacent to, and owned by, Benovia Winery and is managed by well-respected viticulturist Daniel Roberts). The three Pinot Noirs are sold in either a 6-pack ($300)or 12-pack ($600) mixture of the three wines.

Now george has a thing for small case, but his wines are good with a capital G. He is a one man show and his wines show his imprint from start to finish. He sorts the grapes by hand, does the punchdowns, crafts the wine (100% new Francois Freres French oak), bottles the wine, hand-numbers each bottle, and personally delivers the wine to many customers.

I have not tasted the 2006 Pinot Noirs, but here is a recent tasting note from last year’s vintage.

2007 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Clones 115, 777. · The deepest colored wine in the lineup. Plenty of acidity that is hidden by the fruit richness present. Mouthcoating aromas and flavors of fresh berries, mocha, and graham. A Lolita, but still hitting plenty of high notes.

2007 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Aromas of bright cherries carry through to the finish. Delicious and juicy, with lively acidity on the finish. Needs a little time to shed refined, but notable tannins.

2007 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Old Vines Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Exotic scents of wild berries, spices, and graham. Plummy dark fruit with sinew which is brooding, rich and plush, but retains a degree of finesse. Tangy acidity provides juiciness. A wine to contemplate.

2007 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Young Vines Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Touch reduced at present. Sweet red stone fruit charge with herbal and orange peel highlights. Immensely satisfying finish that won’t let go.

2007 Rivers-Marie Willow Creek Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

3 barrels. · Complex and comforting nose featuring cherries, floral perfume, and oak spice. Not particularly giving now with reticent earth-imbibed cherry flavors. Quite gentle with finely ground tannins.

2006 Aston Estate Sonoma Coast Clone 777 Pinot Noir

14,7% alc., $70. · Subdued nose showing demure black cherry and wild herb aromas with a whiff of alcohol. Substantial dark red fruit core with a hint of chocolate. The wine is quite withdrawn at present. Nicely balanced with a clean finish. This shows good potential and will benefit from another one to two years in bottle.

2006 Aston Estate Sonoma Coast Clones 115, 777 Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., $70. · Intriguing perfume of underbrush, forest floor and dark red cherry with a nice hint of oak. The wine shows a soft core of tannin wrapped in layers of luscious cherry and raspberry fruit, providing a fullness that envelopes the tongue. Everything is in beautiful balance and the combination of two clones provides more interest than the single clonal wines described above. This was downright terrific the next day when sampled from an opened, re-corked bottle.

2005 Aston Estate Sonoma Coast Clone 777 Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., $70. · Dark reddish-purple. Clean aromas of Chinese plum sauce, blackberries and fresh oak. Tart black cherry and anise flavors with a citrus note on the finish. Acidity is a little too much now. Needs food.

george wine company is located in Healdsburg (the wine is made at Moshin on Westside Road in the Russian River Valley). The wines are sold exclusively to a mailing list at www.georgewine.com. 707- 495-7783. If you can’t snag some, the following restaurants have it: Aureole Restaurant, Charlie Palmer Steak, Delmonico Steakhouse, Le Cirque, Michael Mina Bellagio, Postrio, Spago all in Las Vegas, BLT Steak, Buddakan, Café Boulud, Gotham Bar & Grill, craft, db Bistro moderne, Eleven Madison Park all in New York City, and Campanile, CUT, Cyrus, Dry Creek Kitchen, Jardinere, Madrona Manor, Restaurant Gary Danko, and XYZ, all in California.

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