2019 Screaming Eagle Second Flight
Screaming Eagle is one of the most iconic Napa wineries that turned into a sensation almost overnight in the early 1990s! Owning a bottle of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon is the stuff of dreams for any wine connoisseur. A choice of a wine investment!
Screaming Eagle is a ‘cult’ Napa winery.
There’s no official definition of what qualifies a winery as having “cult” status, though its wines are typically hard to find, high quality, and extremely pricey. With just 57 acres of vineyards, and an annual production of around 500 cases, Screaming Eagle is the kind of producer that almost all enthusiasts have heard of, but very few get to try.
Robert Parker is a superfan.
Screaming Eagle received almost instantaneous fame after Napa-Cab-loving wine critic Robert Parker gave its first 1992 vintage a near-perfect 99 out of 100 rating. The winery would eventually receive the magic 100 Parker points for its 1997 vintage, as well as its 2007, 2010, and 2012 bottlings.
Screaming Eagle is California's original cult wine and still lays claim to the state's – if not the country's – most highly prized label. Produced in tiny quantities from a small vineyard in Napa's Oakville appellation, the Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine regularly sells for upwards of $3000 a bottle and is America's most expensive regularly produced wine.
The vineyards were established by former real estate agent Jean Phillips in 1986, who subsequently set about selling fruit to local producers in Napa. After a few years, the decision was made to set up a winery, and the first vintage of Screaming Eagle was released in 1992.
The highly unfluential US wine critic Robert Parker rated this first vintage at 99 points, and cult status was sealed. Since then, the 1997 and 2007 vintages both achieved the coveted 100-point rating from the famous wine critic.
Sales are made direct from the winery through a mailing list which has been full since 2000. The waiting list to get on the "mailer", as it is often known, is reputed to be several thousand names long.
Screaming Eagle's vineyard lies within the Oakville AVA in the central part of Napa Valley. The unmarked vineyard lies on the eastern side of the AVA, below the vineyards of Dalla Valle and Oakville Ranch in the foothills further east, and just north of Paraduxx in Yountville.
As is typical for the AVA, the vineyard is planted mainly to Cabernet Sauvignon with some Merlot and Cabernet Franc, and a small plot of Sauvignon Blanc.
Screaming Eagle's second wine, Second Flight, is made from the vineyard's younger vines, and a white wine, the Screaming Eagle Sauvignon Blanc, was introduced in 2012. Although the latter initially sold for $250 a bottle in 2012, this wine quickly reached astronomical prices on the secondary market as well – sometimes up to ten times the release price.
In 2006, Screaming Eagle was famously sold to US billionaire Stanley Kroenke and winery investor Charles Banks for an undisclosed sum, rumored to be upwards of $30 million. Kroenke now owns Screaming Eagle outright (Banks was convicted of defrauding former NBA star Tim Duncan in a federal court in 2017).
Pre-Order: ETA Jan'23
Screaming Eagle Winery and Vineyards is a California wine estate producing limited amounts of varietal wine; due to the small quantities produced and high prices commanded, their wines are considered cult wines. The winery is located in Oakville, California, north of the town of Napa in the Napa Valley
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 the 1-acre (4,000 m2), approximately 80 vines of Cabernet Sauvignon. For this one acre of Cabernet, Philips sought the opinions of Robert Mondavi Winery employees on the commercial potential of her wine before hiring Richard Peterson as a consultant, and subsequently met Peterson's daughter, Heidi Peterson Barrett, who became Screaming Eagle's first winemaker. The entire vineyard was replanted in 1995 to three varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The 1992 vintage, released in 1995, through a combination of very low production numbers and highly positive reviews (wine critic Robert Parker awarded the wine 99 points) resulted in Screaming Eagle becoming one of the most celebrated and expensive wines in the Napa Valley. Today the estate's flagship wine retails at an average price of $2,983 per bottle.
On March 17, 2006 the estate was sold to billionaire Stan Kroenke and Charles Banks. Phillips disclosed the sale in a letter to Wine Spectator, saying she received an offer she couldn't refuse. In a letter to clients, Phillips stated, "they will renovate old structures or build new ones and replant the vineyard. The new owners have exciting plans to keep it small but raise the bar on quality." Three years later, in April 2009, Charles Banks left Screaming Eagle leaving Stan Kroenke as the sole proprietor. Armand de Maigret is the Estate Manager.
The vineyard area extends 48.21 acres (19.51 ha), planted with varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and a small amount of Sauvignon blanc. The vineyards are managed by David Abreu Vineyard Management and tended to by vineyard foreman Jorge Delgado and his team. In 2006 34 acres were replanted. The annual production ranges from 400 to 750 cases (between 5,000 and 9,000 750ml bottles). The winemakers are Nick Gislason, Robert Black and Michel Rolland is a consultant.
Robert Parker's 98 points
Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, the 2018 The Flight drifts sensuously out of the glass with the most gorgeous perfume of red roses, kirsch, black raspberries and fresh blackcurrants followed by hints of iron ore, tilled soil, lavender and star anise plus a touch of powdered cinnamon. Medium to full-bodied, the palate has a fantastically chiseled structure of ripe, grainy tannins and bold freshness supporting the black fruit and floral layers, finishing with bags of minerals.
“I loved it!” winemaker Nick Gislason told me when I asked him for his thoughts on the 2018 vintage. “Everything is just really perfumey with a lot of verve and a lot of freshness. It’s a wholesome vintage, if that makes sense? The canopies were big and healthy; there was a lot of life in the vineyard. After 2017, it felt like the bloom that comes afterward.”
He went on to say, "We made a little 2017 red. Only four barrels of the Cab! Ten barrels of The Flight. Only from grapes that came in before the fires—mainly Merlot and a couple of blocks of Cabernet."
Whereas Screaming Eagle is mainly sourced from Cabernet Sauvignon grown on the western side of the estate, there is one plot of old Merlot (1980s plantings) on the eastern side of the vineyard that continually makes the backbone of this Second Flight/The Flight. This is planted on very gravelly, well-drained soils. Gislason explained, “The Cabernet Sauvignon for The Flight is always about being fresh, light and perfumey, without the firmer tannins that Cabernet can sometimes give. There is a ‘fresh’ end of the property that this tends to come from. There is some other Merlot on the other side of the property that doesn’t have the acidity, perfume or brightness we’re looking for. We don’t use this in The Flight.”