george pinot vintage VI
george is an anomaly in the california winemaking business. a number of years ago, he escaped the confines
of wall street to work at williams selyem winery in healdsburg, california after having his wine epiphany with a
1991 and 1992 williams selyem rochioli vineyard pinot noir. he interned at williams selyem from 1999 to 2002
at the foot of Burt Williams and learned his winemaking process. he also worked at the smaller brogan cellars
which was more closely modeled after the type of winery he hoped to launch himself some day. With grapes
from david hirsch of sonoma coast’s hirsch vineyard, he released 150 cases of his inaugural pinot noirs in
2003. the wines immediately caught the attention of top sommeliers at high-profile restaurants in las vegas
and new york and his pinot noir quickly became a cult wine. i have been a fan from the beginning, entranced
by the elegantly styled pinot noirs that he crafts.
george levkoff is a one man show performing every step of winemaking from sorting grapes by hand to
numbering his bottlings, as well as marketing and even in many cases delivering his wines. He is a regular at
pinot days (see below where we grabbed him for an interview - he is the one sitting next to me behind the
george football helmet) where many of you have met him and sampled his wines. many fans have urged him
to craft chardonnay, rosé, and syrah and even make an inexpensive pinot noir that restaurants can pour by the
glass. he staunchly refuses to take that step, preferring not to take away from his major focus of producing a
hand-crafted, ultra-premium pinot noir. george prefers lower case which explains the text in this feature. he
also likes casual dress, usually seen in all types of weather wearing cut offs and sandals. george is a casual
and lovable guy who crafts high-collar, sophisticated pinot noir.
i tasted the 2008 george vintage VI pinot noirs with george recently. he told me how he makes his wines. he
de-stems 100% of the grapes, cold soaks for a few days, uses williams selyem yeast for inoculation, uses only
free-run juice (except in the Sonoma Coma wine), and ages his pinots in 100% new francois freres french oak
barrels. forget fining and filtration. all the wines below are still lolitas and patience is advised.
2008 george Ceremonial Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 315 cases, $50. Farmed by the Martinelli family.
draw you with aromas of Bing cherry, strawberry, wooded forest,
seasoned oak and spice. Delicious cherry essence that is rich, full and
lip-smacking. Exotic Asian spices, nutmeg and white pepper add accents
and the cherry-driven finish is a winegasm. Even better six hours after
opening. This is the signature george Pinot that really wants all of your attention.
2008 george Hansen Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
83 cases, $50. There is a story behind this
wine. george says people either like it or hate it with no in between. Recently he sampled a noted French
sommelier on this wine. The sommelier said, “This smells like shit. I’ll take a case.” Fred Hansen farms this
vineyard which is located adjacent a cow pasture, accounting for the unique terroir-driven character.
Composed of Dijon and Pommard clones.
This wine is replete with barnyard smells and tastes of fecundity. I
am sure the Burgundians would love this wine but I am not a fan. There is a solid nucleus of cherry and berry
fruit and the wine is well-crafted but its just not my cup of tea. Decent.
2008 george Leras Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
83 cases, $50. A favorite in Vegas.
This is the densest wine in the lineup with oodles of purple, even meaty, fruit. Everything is pulled together
nicely with a deft touch of oak and well balanced acidity. The rich fruit steals the show, but the wine is focused
like a laser, leaving a seductive, satisfying and lingering impression. Very good.
2008 george Martaella Vineyard and King Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
130 cases, $50. A 50/50 blend of the two vineyards that are adjacent properties on Hartman Road. Because of
lack of frost protection, over half of the crop was lost from these two vineyards in 2008 so the grapes were
fermented together. Pommard clone.
On the fruity nose there are bright oak-infused aromas of black cherries
and berries. Moderately rich core of ripe berries with a savory overtone. Still closed, opening gradually in the
glass. Supple ripe tannins, tasty supporting oak and admirable delicacy. A solid wine which will get showier
with time. Decent (+).
2008 george Sonoma Coma Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
250 cases, $50. A blend of grapes from Bacigalupi Vineyard on Westside
Road (70%) and Ceremonial Vineyard (30%).
The nose is captivating with its
scents of cherries, wood shavings, sandalwood and brown spice. The
medium-weighted red cherry and berry fruits are subtlety spiced and tinged
with cola. Oak plays a supportive role. Soft, smooth and way too easy to
drink. The most approachable Pinot Noir in the lineup and prototypical
Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Very Good.
george wine company Pinot is sold primarily (75%) through a mailing list at www.georgewine.com with
widespread fine restaurant distribution and a small amount of retail wine seller availability. The 2008 vintage is
sold out at the winery. 707-495-7783.