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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. · The wine 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

14.9% alc., 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

14.2% alc., 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 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.

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