Leviathan represents the best of the Golden State: It is a bold and juicy Bordeaux-meets-Rhône blend that puts ripe California fruit in the hands of one of the state’s master craftsmen.“With Leviathan I have complete latitude to create something unique from many different parts,” says Andy Erickson, the Screaming Eagle winemaker who blends Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc in this small-lot passion project.
This is one of the very few under-$50 bottles with Erickson’s name on it, because Erickson’s name is pure gold, and wines with his fingerprints on them usually fetch prices deep into triple digits: In addition to crafting the most sought-after cult wine in California, he has made wine for Staglin, Arietta, Harlan, Spottswoode, as well as his own labels, Favia and Carbone. But critics and consumers have noticed that Erickson’s magic touch extends to Leviathan: Antonio Galloni of Vinous calls Leviathan “one of the best values in California,” and our Wine Access friends—who tend to claim every bottle we can get our hands on—would certainly agree.
If you can, put Erickson’s many 100-point wines out of mind for a moment, so we can focus on the other half of the Leviathan equation: That would be the accomplished viticulturist Annie Favia, who has worked with Kongsgaard, Corison, Abreu, and Screaming Eagle, and also happens to be Erickson’s wife. Annie’s clout does wonders in securing high-quality fruit from Los Carneros and Coombsville in Napa County, Dry Creek Valley and Moon Mountain in Sonoma County and Red Hills up in Lake County—fruit that, because of the sway of the wine’s two principals, finds its way into Leviathan.
So, do you want to taste and own a few bottles of wine crafted by arguably the most acclaimed winemaker in Napa? That’s a rhetorical question. Andy Erickson’s 2016 Leviathan has captured the essence of California in yet another outstanding vintage. This a bottle sets the standard for under-$50 California reds.