Here are an e-mail address and a fax number that Cabernet lovers should jot down: firstname.lastname@example.org and (707) 963-1282.
That's the way to get on the mailing list for the new Bob Levy-Martha McClellan Levy Cabernet Sauvignon.
Levy and McClellen hold high-wire day jobs. He’s the winemaker at Harlan and Bond. She’s the winemaker at Sloan. In 2002, the Harlan and Sloan Cabernets were the superstars of the vintage, with both earning 99-point ratings.
In 2004, Levy and McClellan made the first 300 cases of their own wine from a six-acre vineyard owned by their family off Franz Valley School Road, west of Calistoga, at a 600-foot elevation. “Working on the weekends for yourself is different,” says McClellan. But “it also makes cutting off crop a little more painful.”
The Levy-McClellan is a blend of 92 percent Cabernet with small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. If everything goes according to schedule, it should be released next year.
No, I haven’t tried the wine yet, and no, you don’t have to commit to buying it. But the mailing list is already growing, so if you want at least a shot at a few bottles, now would be the time to contact them. No word on the price yet.
Both Levy and McClellan are busy souls with impressive winemaking credentials.
Levy graduated from U.C. Davis, worked at Cuvaison and then built Rombauer before joining Merryvale in 1988. He stayed there until joining Harlan (at the time, Bill Harlan was a partner at Merryvale) in 1998, a year after his wife made wine at Harlan.
McClellan studied political science at the University of Michigan and then attended the Geisenheim Institute for Viticulture in Germany, before returning to California. In 1997, the same year that she and Levy were married, she supervised the crush and winemaking at Harlan. The couple worked together until she departed to join Stuart Sloan in 2001.
While you might think they lead a glamorous lifestyle, McClellan quickly doused that notion over lunch one day. “We never go anywhere,” she says, with a smile. “We have three kids.” Their ages range from two to seven.
The two like to talk about wine at home, and they share similar thoughts on winemaking and wine styles.
Both of their 2002s, for example, are super rich and plush, with amazing depth and purity of flavor. The tannins are also big and rich in both wines, but silky smooth and polished. Both Harlan and Sloan will be pouring their 2003s at the California Wine Experience this fall as part of my panel on Napa Valley Cabernet. (Also on the panel are Screaming Eagle, Robert Foley, Merus, Araujo, Gemstone, Schrader, Paul Hobbs and Colgin.)
McClellan is, in particular, highly complimentary of her husband’s work, but she is also good at getting in a playful jab.
“Bob can remember everything about a wine, but he couldn’t remember to pick up the kids at 3:00 yesterday.”
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