Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Always a great value, the 2018 California Red Wine is a Bordeaux blend put together by Andy Erickson. The wine reveals a ruby/purple hue as well as complex notes of red and black fruits, green tobacco, cedary spice, and spring flowers. These all flow to a medium to full-bodied, elegant wine that offers good overall concentration, seamless tannins, and a great finish. Very much in the style of the 2018 vintage with its more streamlined, elegant style, it’s going to benefit from 2-3 years of bottle age (although it’s far from unapproachable today) and keep for a solid 10-12 years or more. This is one of the more age-worthy examples of this cuvée that I recall.
Capturing decades of winemaking experience and vineyard knowledge, renowned winemaker Andy Erickson began Leviathan in 2004 with a single goal; to create a red wine each vintage free from the restraints of appellations and crafted from notable vineyards throughout California. Every year he coaxes the very best from each of the chosen varietals, regions, and vineyards to create one distinct and exceptional red blend.
Andy Erickson and Nicole Hayden, Grower Relations, utilize the whole state of California as their appellation, looking across the state to find great vineyards to make one blend each year. “We don’t see the individual appellations because we’re not thinking that way anymore. We’re looking at the entire slice of the west coast and turning the whole appellation idea on its head.”- Andy Erickson, Winemaker.
The wine reflects the nuances and terroir of each notable site and the collaboration between the grower and the winemaker. Leviathan is a powerful Red Blend, and that power is derived from hard working vines mostly found in rocky hillsides with volcanic based soils, along with the right combination of micro-climate and variety.
California is a winemaking colossus; by itself it is the fourth largest producer in the world. Red wine accounts for 56% of the total by volume, and red grapes 63% of total acres planted. In addition, a number of California red wines are heralded as being among the most prestigious and sought-after wines in the world.
While the state’s incredibly diverse geography, soils and microclimates allow for a wide array of styles, the key factor unifying California red wine is the abundance of sunshine and a long, consistent growing season. This leads to well-developed fruit marked both by impressive ripeness and balancing acidity.
The state’s most famous red wine region, of course, is Napa Valley, where Cabernet Sauvignon reigns as king. But California boasts a wealth of other impressive appellations. The much larger and climatically varied Sonoma County also produces world class California Cabernet, along with wonderful examples of California Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.
Fine versions of Cabernet and Zinfandel hail from Paso Robles as well, which is also gaining fame with Rhone varietals like Syrah and Grenache. As for Pinot Noir, terrific examples can be found from AVA’s such as Anderson Valley, Carneros, Santa Lucia Highlands and Sta. Rita Hills. Wineries in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties are making wonderful Syrahs, and the Sierra Foothill appellations are proving to be an experimental hotbed, with Italian and Spanish varietals employed to great effect.
This of course is a mere sketch. The subject of California red wine is as deep and broad as an ocean, and absolutely a joy to explore!