Value 94+ Point Beast from Screaming Eagle’s Winemaker

Posted on: 02/5/19 7:11 PM


Andy Erickson is a legend of the wine world. After being installed as the winemaker at Screaming Eagle in 2006 (a job that one doesn’t exactly fall into without already having quite the reputation), in 2007 he achieved their first 100 point score in a decade, and followed it up with a string of hits at his own winery Favia as well as as a consultant at a number of other top estates.

Most wines that Mr Erickson goes anywhere near have prices in the stratosphere, but at Favia he’s also spent more than a decade fairly quietly working on the wine I was thrilled to discover recently; Leviathan. Made from Cabernet from the Red Hills and Moon Mountain, Syrah from Nimble Vineyard in Lake County, and Cabernet Franc and Merlot from the Hudson Vineyard in Carneros. I tried it just before Christmas and it absolutely knocked my socks off. I don’t often write up Californian wines as I find the quality to price ratio matches up a little less often that elsewhere, but when it’s right, my goodness how it’s right.

This has a barnstorming 94+ and a great tasting note in the Wine Advocate below. Antonio Galloni came in two points lower for Vinous, but his note is spot on for me…

“Another fabulous wine from Andy Erickson’s Leviathan label. Grilled herb, leather, licorice, smoke and tobacco build as the 2016 shows off its alluring personality. Inky and juicy, the 2016 is insanely delicious. If anything, it might be too serious for a wine that is meant to be enjoyed upon release!”

Key of course is getting the freshness right in combination with all the natural warmth, ripeness, and pure deliciousness that California can naturally imbue. Something Erickson has absolutely nailed. If like something full bodied and powerful from time to time, or want something to go with a hefty piece of red meat, you’ll find this has got the stony fresh finish to go along with the juice, and you could not do better than this at this price. This is a big wine, but entirely savoury and meaty rather than gloopy and sweet as I find a bunch of CA red blends to be. This is made by a master, and it shows.


2016 Leviathan Red

From winemaker Andy Erickson, the 2016 Leviathan is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Merlot aged in 25% new French oak. Deep garnet-purple colored, it leaps from the glass with exuberant black cherries, black raspberries and blackcurrants with hints of pencil shavings, black pepper, tobacco and forest floor plus a waft of tapenade. Full, firm and grainy, with gorgeous mid-palate generosity and packed with layers of black fruit and savory sparks, it has a rock-solid frame of ripe, grainy tannins and seamless freshness, finishing long. Approachable now yet structured to cellar, this seriously affordable, serious California blend should age 15-20 years or more. About 8,000 cases available. 94+ pts., Lisa Perotti-Brown MW, The Wine Advocate

Posted in Daily Flash By Ian Halbert