Ah, the “Napa Cult Wine.” The perennially-overpriced subject of scorn and ridicule the internet over. Everyone’s tired of Napa fruit and paying the Napa markup. There’s nothing new under the sun, everyone out there is overrated anyway, so forth and so on and et cetera ad nauseum.
Anyone from Napa still reading? I think all that’s horsehockey, by the way. Just wanted to get everyone on the same page.
Still, of the Napa Cult Wines I’ve had, the 2007 Leviathan is the first one to truly live up to all the hype. And what hype there is for this wine!
Some background: Leviathan is a garage wine project from husband-and-wife duo, winemaker Andy Erickson (Screaming Eagle, Staglin, Hartwell, Favia, Ovid, Dancing Hares, Jonata, Dalla Valle, Arietta) and viticulturalist Anie Favia (Screaming Eagle, Favia, and Abreu). Erickson has an MS in Enology from UC Davis, and cut his teeth in the 1990s at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.
The Napa pedigree on these two is second-to-none. So what about the wine?
40% cabernet franc, 30% cabernet sauvignon, 16% syrah, and 14% merlot, all Napa juice. It’s maybe the best red blend I’ve had. Ever.
In the glass, the wine is gorgeous, with a brilliant garnet core and only slightly lighter ruby edges. On the nose is some really awesome fruit, like blackcurrant, raspberry, and ripe red cherry, but it’s all muted and held in check by a bit of nutmeg and allspice.
This is as full-bodied as wine gets, without getting sickly sweet and syrupy like dessert wine. The tannins are soft and lush, and everything here is in such balance, that I didn’t notice any of the heat. And at 14.5%, I was expecting it. Blackberry and raspberry are the main notes on the palate, and the wine does remain fantasically fruity.
If you’re an anti-flavor fascist, you won’t care for this wine. But if you still love juice for being juice (even if only sometimes) then you need to try this. It isn’t even that expensive, available for $40–$50 from numerous online retailers. Sure, that’s no drop in the bucket, but this isn’t an “everyday” drinker. The tannins and balance lead me to believe you could easily get 5+ years of aging out of it if you wanted, but it tastes so fucking good right now, I wouldn’t bother.
I’m a convert to the cult of Leviathan. This is crazy, silly good juice.