At the heart of every ‘Cult Wine’ conversation, there’s one wine that has become a pillar in defining the category- Screaming Eagle. The small-production winery has become one of the world’s most sought after and collectible wines, a status we don’t see changing any time soon!
Jean Phillips, a former real estate agent, bought the 57 acre Oakville vineyard in 1986, which was planted to a mix of varieties, most of which Phillips sold to various Napa wineries except 1-acre, approximately 80 vines of Cabernet Sauvignon, which she kept for herself. Heidi Peterson Barrett, who became Screaming Eagle’s first winemaker, joined the team for the 1992 vintage. The entire vineyard was replanted in 1995 to three varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Cabernet Franc.
You’re in luck- we’ve gathered everything you need to know about the Cult Cabernet.
Robert Parker Approved
Robert Parker continually sings praises to the bottlings of Screaming Eagle. The Napa Cabernet aficionado can be held responsible for Screaming Eagle’s quick rise to fame! Parker scored the inaugural 1992 vintage a whopping 99 out of 100 points, igniting overnight success for the young winery- the rest is history.
However, Screaming Eagle wines have proven to be much more than a one-hit-wonder. Since the initial scoring, Robert Parker has awarded perfect scores to six vintages (1997, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016). Are you impressed yet?
High Scores, High Value
Back in 2000, the most expensive bottle of Screaming Eagle was sold in a charity auction for a steep $500,000. Although auctioned for charity, the 6-liter bottle broke records. Not only was this the most expensive bottle of Napa Valley wine ever sold, but it ranked as the most expensive bottle of wine sold ever! Thankfully, the average cost of a bottle of Screaming Eagle isn’t quite as steep, averaging at about $3,500 per bottle.
Location, Location, Location
The vineyards are located in the Oakville AVA. Just off the Silverado Trail lies 48 acres planted with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc- however, only 23 of these acres are used to produce wines for Screaming Eagle. Due to a unique micro-climate, slopes, hills, and a Western facing exposure, Screaming Eagle is often one of the first in the area to reach maturity. The treasured soils are made up of an ideal balance of rocks, stones, gravel, loam, and clay.
Thinking of visiting the winery? Think again. The wines of Screaming Eagle are far too exclusive to keep up with the demand of Napa Valley tourism. Believe it or not, it can take up to 12 years to even gain a spot on the coveted mailing list!
On The Palate
The red wines of Screaming Eagle are Cabernet Sauvignon dominant, blended with Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. The crafted wines express smokey notes of plum and dark chocolate. Check out this review of the 2007 vintage by Robert Parker:
“The most profound Screaming Eagle since the 2002 and 1997, the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon (an 800-case blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc) offers up a prodigiously pure, complex nose of cassis, spring flowers, licorice and black currants, the latter component being so intense and lingering that it makes this cuvee stand apart from other Napa Valley wines. Full-bodied in the mouth, like a ballerina on her toes, this wine glides gracefully across the palate with a cascade of purity, equilibrium and compelling complexity. Extraordinary balance and elegance combined with power make for an utterly stunning wine that should drink well for two decades or more. Even though the estate is being reconstituted and a new winery built, this wine still came from the old sector of the vineyard (15.5 acres) that was used by the previous proprietor, Jean Phillips.
Certainly, 2007 and 2008 are the best back to back vintages at Screaming Eagle since 2002 and 2001. Like the 2007, the 2008 should drink well for at least 20-25 years based on the fact that the 1992, the debut release (which I just had), at age 18 is still an adolescent. Kudos to the winemaking team led by Andy Erickson who is backed up by the blue chip viticulturist David Abreu and the omnipresent Michel Rolland.” -Robert Parker, Wine Advocate
Screaming Eagle’s second label, Second Flight, is quite contrasting on the palate. This Merlot heavy wine is described as particularly delicate and aromatic, expressing floral notes, flavors of red fruit, and spice.
Authenticity At Its Finest
The world of fine wine isn’t immune to counterfeit crooks, but Screaming Eagle is doing its best to combat the replication attempts. Every bottle, 2010 and on, is protected and ‘bubble-coded’ to confirm authenticity. This measure creates a hidden security label, which is impossible to remove without visible damage. Screaming Eagle makes authentication readily available to consumers on their website; all you need is the attached identification code.
Rest assured, Benchmark Wine Group also performs hand-inspections on every bottle to enter our warehouse. As a result, we guarantee the provenance of all wines that we sell. Read more on our Provenance Guarantee.
Screaming Eagle is undoubtedly one of the best wines in the world, and luckily for you, we have a fabulous collection- browse our live inventory of Screaming Eagle here!
Do you have a favorite vintage of Screaming Eagle? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
Established in 2002, Benchmark Wine Group is the leading source of fine and rare wine retailers, restaurants, and collectors around the world. Based in Napa Valley, we acquire the most sought-after wines from private individuals and professional contacts, but only when provenance can be verified by our team of acquisition professionals. Our staff draws on decades of industry experience and is dedicated to providing exceptional service to all of our clients. Benchmarkwine.com offers 24-hour access to our cellar, displaying inventory in real-time.