His resumé is extensive, Screaming Eagle, Harlan, Spottswoode, Ovid, Dalla Valle, Staglin, Favia, Mayacamas, Mulderbosch.
Andy knows a thing or two about making wines in California. Not just any wines, he has been winemaker at some of the most legendary wineries in The United States and is now even dabbling in historic places like South Africa. Andy Erickson, was hired as winemaker at Napa Valley’s Screaming Eagle in 2006, when Jean Phillips, the founder of the winery that practically invented California cult Cabernet status, sold it after 20 years on the 54-acre Oakville estate. Erickson had the unenviable task of filling the shoes of Screaming Eagle winemaker Heidi Peterson Barrett, but his pedigree indicated he’d be up for the task—Erickson started his winemaking career at Harlan Estate and was then named winemaker at Staglin in 2001 before founding his own winery, Favia, in 2003 with his viticulturist wife, Annie Favia; in addition to his duties at Screaming Eagle and Favia, he consulted for Hartwell, Ovid, Dancing Hares, Dalla Valle and Arietta in Napa and Jonata in the Santa Ynez Valley.
WS: Who have been some of your other influences in the wine industry?
AE: I was very lucky to meet John Kongsgaard shortly after arriving in Napa in 1994. His soulful approach to winemaking, using native yeasts, letting the wine express what the vineyard site gives, has stuck with me over the years. I also had the pleasure to work with Bob Levy and Rosemary Cakebread, both very meticulous, more technical winemakers, and I learned from them to up my game in terms of organization and precision. No one has done more for me than vineyard manager David Abreu in terms of helping me understand the importance of a year-round, long-term focus on the vineyard in order to maximize its potential. And of course Michel Rolland has been a great influence on me, pushing me always to improve things in the vineyard and winery. He has become a great friend and mentor, and we work well together.
WS: What is it like working for California’s premier cult Cabernet winery as well as consulting for so many startups with high aspirations?
AE:The best thing about Screaming Eagle is that I have been working with Charles [Banks, part owner of Screaming Eagle] for the last five years on Jonata, in Santa Barbara, and we share a commitment to work hard and to producing the best wine possible from these two beautiful estates. In the end, it’s smart farming and careful winemaking. I’m lucky that with all of my clients, I share a passion for great wines from special sites, so with each winery we’re working toward a similar goal, whether it’s an established vineyard or a new project.
WS: Other than one of your own, what is your all-time favorite wine?
AE: Château Ausone is for me the most inspirational wine I know. It is the ultimate expression of what for me is one of the most breathtaking pieces of vineyard land in the world. It also seems that Alain Vauthier and his team are able to continually improve on what they are doing, something I hope to do myself.
WS If you could be one other person in the wine business for one day, who would it be, and why?
AE: Rocky, the vineyard dog at Screaming Eagle. He chases rabbits until sunrise, swims in the reservoir, then sleeps in the sun all afternoon.
(original interview from WineSpectator.com)
“Blending is one of the most enjoyable and most creative parts of the winemaking process,” says winemaker, Andy Erickson. “
Andy is producing a wine at Leviathan that is pretty damn delicious. It’s not trying to be a Cult Red or Collectors trophy wine. It’s about using some of the best grapes and sites available to the winemaker and making a great wine.
The blend varies each vintage, in 2011 it was 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah, 13% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot. You can enjoy the wine and pick up nuances each time you smell. Sometimes getting a little plum from the Merlot, a violet from Cabernet Franc, spices from Syrah.
About the Leviathan Red Blend:
Leviathan is a rich, full wine with vibrant texture. Its complex flavors are derived from a unique blend which highlights the best of California — carefully fine-tuned each vintage to create a bold, rich, enticing wine. Though this uniquely blended wine is worthy of cellaring, it is intended to be consumed in its youth, showcasing its bright, fruit-driven character.
Founded by Annie Favia and Andy Erickson in 2004, Leviathan’s goal is to produce the best California red wine in a given vintage drawing on vineyard sources across the state forming a unique blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Merlot.Tapping into their collective 35 years of industry experience in both the field and cellar, and with stints at some of Napa Valley’s most heralded properties, this couple crafts Leviathan from the best of what California has to offer every year.
Vinified by winemaker Andy Erickson, Leviathan is a rich, full wine with vibrant texture. Its complex flavors are derived from a unique blend which highlights the best of California — carefully fine-tuned each vintage to create a bold, rich, enticing wine. Though this uniquely blended wine is worthy of cellaring, it is intended to be consumed in its youth, showcasing its bright, fruit-driven character. The imagery that best captures this wine is Leviathan — a monstrous sea creature, powerful and mysterious.