Andy Erickson has been called Napa’s “leading man” thanks to his role in the creation of several of the most highly prized — and priced — Cabernets in history. After all, Erickson is the winemaker behind the release of Screaming Eagle 2007, rated 100 points and currently trading at auction for more than $3,000 per bottle. He has also garnered numerous 98- to 100-point ratings for other “cult” Cabernets, including Dalla Valle and Ovid. Erickson recently opened a tasting room to host collectors for the first time.
Over the past decade, Erickson and his wife, Annie, have been quietly fashioning small lots of delicious wines under the Favia label (Annie’s maiden name). She is the protégé of Napa’s most celebrated vineyard manager, David Abreu, whom she assisted for more than a decade, planting and replanting preeminent vineyards, including Screaming Eagle.
Favia Cabernets earn lofty ratings from critics such as Robert Parker, who awarded the most recent release 98 points. But since they are still relatively under the radar, they are priced hundreds of dollars below Andy’s cult Cabernets. Boutique production means that Favia Cabernets and ultra-rare Syrah blends have traditionally been accessible only to visitors to the Napa Valley and a select list of restaurants outside California.
It will now be possible to sample the full spectrum of Favia’s highest-rated wines at its brand-new estate tasting room. The property was first planted by Napa Valley pioneer Antonio Carbone in 1886. Thanks to a multiyear refurbishment project, visitors can taste new Favia vintages in the historic barrel room of the original winery.
Given sufficient notice, I will personally escort collectors to Favia. Both Annie and Andy are consummate Napa Valley insiders, and spending time with them should rank high on any wine connoisseur’s bucket list.
Perched atop Spring Mountain, with panoramic vistas of the valley below, Lokoya Estate offers by far the most spectacular new winery experience in Napa today. The grand opening this year follows a monumental upgrade to the original Terra Valentine winery. The kitschy alpine vibe and rustic wines of Terra Valentine are long gone, replaced by a well-appointed private tasting salon featuring the majestic, age-worthy Cabernets of Lokoya.
Founded in 1995, Lokoya produces acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignons from four of Napa Valley’s most celebrated mountain appellations: Mount Veeder, Howell Mountain, Spring Mountain and Diamond Mountain. These micro-production Cabernets are true thoroughbreds, coveted by collectors because of their ageability and impressive ratings by wine critics worldwide.
Last month, I organized a day of tastings for a small group of wine aficionados, with Lokoya as our first stop. My guests were dazzled by the virtually unprecedented opportunity to sample multiple Cabernets rated 98 to 100 points side by side.
Bart and Daphne Araujo became world famous as the producers of an eponymous wine widely regarded as one of Napa’s original five cult Cabernets. In 2013 they sold their Eisele Vineyard property to François Pinault, the owner of Bordeaux’s Château Latour. Now the Araujos have launched a delicious new Cabernet called Accendo Cellars. I rated it 98 to 99 points and was reminded of thrillers from Oakville such as Schrader and Harlan but with a touch more finesse and age-worthiness. The Accendo team includes the Araujos’ adult children, as well as the people who crafted Araujo at the Eisele Vineyard. Head winemaker Françoise Peschon sources fruit from the Araujos’ favorite “grand cru” vineyards in the Oakville appellation. Accendo wines are crafted in a new facility, located at the historic Wheeler Farms property. Starting this summer, convivial tastings will be hosted in the winery’s stylish living room, overlooking the verdant landscape with Mount Saint Helena in the background.