Leviathan California Red Wine 2012

Leviathan California Red Wine 2012: Dark purple color; tight-but-elegant nose reveals some cherry, plum; on the palate—red fruits, red and black currant, some licorice and chocolate, sip of coffee;

smooth, powerful, full in the mouth without being bold or over-assertive, very smooth tannins—smoothness is a signature of this effort. Intriguing blend of 45% cabernet sauvignon, $25 cabernet franc, 16% merlot, 14% syrah; joint effort by husband-wife team of viticulturist Annie Favia and winemaker/consultant Andy Erickson, both wine making rock stars. It appears they set out to make a blend that would be set apart from the typical massive Napa cab, aiming at a distinctive position of rich and delicious without being an officious fruit and oak monster; they succeed, and the wine just gets better the longer it sits in your glass and interacts with air. This is Favia-Erickson’s second label, meaning they produce other wines in small quantities and significantly higher prices, then devote the rest of the grapes into a “second label” that often comes close to the “first label” in quality, but carries a more affordable price. Second labels are where great bargains lurk. This is flamboyantly vivid example: it is, in effect, the second label (with a twist) of Screaming Eagle, one of the Napa superstars in quality and price. Want a Screaming Eagle 2012? Expect to pay around $1,500-2,500 per bottle; the average score for such a pour will be in the 98-99 range (if you believe in scores), while Leviathan scores will be in the low-to-mid 90s. Low-to-mid 90s is still uptown, and at two percent of the big boy’s price, what are you waiting for? Erickson is the winemaker of Screaming Eagle, Dalla Valle, Arietta, Favia and other power elites of Napa—so you get a top-tier winemaker and an top-tier viticulturist at a price you can afford if you are not a trust fund baby or dot-comer who got out at the peak. Superbly delicious with depth, balance, dimension; an inspiring symphony of correct flavors and elegance. $48
Winery website
Other photos: Annie Favia, Andy Erickson
Leviathan California Red BlendAnnie Favia
Andy Erickson