Aah! The Majestic Screaming Eagle. Who doesn’t covet a bottle of this cult-status wine?
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 - besides being a really sound choice as a wine investment!
But what makes it such a highly sought-after brand? Why does this wine command sky-rocketing prices?
In this article, we’ll walk you through the winemaker’s extraordinary rise to fame, the reasons why its red wine bottles are so expensive, its top eight wines in 2021, and much more.
This article contains:
(Click on the links below to jump to a specific section)
- All about Screaming Eagle wine
- The extraordinary story of Screaming Eagle’s cult status
- Varietals and viticulture
- Screaming Eagle at Auctions
- Why is Screaming Eagle so expensive?
- How does Screaming Eagle fight counterfeits?
- The best Screaming Eagle vintages to buy in 2021 (includes taste, prices)
- Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1992
- Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
- Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
- Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
- Screaming Eagle Sauvignon Blanc 2010
- Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
- Screaming Eagle 'The Flight - Second Flight’ 2016
- Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon (1.5 Liter Magnum - OWC) 2017
- Where can you buy Screaming Eagle Cabernet?
- Invest in Screaming Eagle wine and Other Rare Wines through Vinovest
All About Screaming Eagle Wine
Screaming Eagle is a Napa Valley based winery (on the north coast of California) that started making wine as recently as the early 1990s.
Let’s dive into its short and colorful history.
The extraordinary story of Screaming Eagle’s cult status
In 1986, Jean Phillips and Tony Bowden (real estate agents) bought a 57 acre Oakville vineyard (east of the Napa River) that was pre-planted with mixed grape varieties.
Philips initially sold all her produce from the Oakville parcel to other Napa Valley winemakers. But she sought the professional opinion of vintners at Mondavi Winery for her estate’s superior Cabernet Sauvignon yield.
The Robert Mondavi team, recognizing the vineyard’s potential, connected her to winemaker Heidi Peterson Barrett (of Dalla Valle wine fame). Together, they released the 1992 vintage that received a near-perfect 99 from wine critic Rober Parker and catapulted the estate into stardom!
Thus began Screaming Eagle’s journey as Napa Valley’s cult winery, attracting investors worldwide.
In 2006, Stan Kroenke and Charles banks bought the now-famous Oakville estate from Jean Phillips. They then brought on winemaker Andy Erickson, estate manager David Abreu, and French oenologist Michel Rolland to join the celebrated winery.
Varietals and viticulture
Early on in her reign, Philips planted the land with a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon (the primary varietal), Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and very little Sauvignon Blanc.
Their flagship Cabernet Sauvignon wine (lovingly called the cult Cab) - is blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc varietals. The only single varietal wine they make is with Sauvignon Blanc.
Despite the estate’s small size, it displays a surprising variance in its terroir. It consists of rocks, gravel, loam, and clay soil, each adding something special to the wine.
The vineyard has also been blessed with slopes that counter the region’s occasionally heavy showers by draining the land of excess water. Additionally, vines in this west-facing plantation rarely have to put up with flavor altering levels of excessive sunlight.
The relatively small estate also enjoys the cool breezes from San Francisco's San Pablo Bay.
Such a unique microclimate is responsible for the early ripening of Screaming Eagle’s grapes, often one of the first in all of Napa Valley.
Beyond this, part of the brand’s mystique lies in its closely guarded farming techniques. The estate rarely opens its doors to visitors, and most fans are in the dark about the viticultural magic of winemaker Nick Gislason!
This aura of secrecy only encourages collectors to pay higher prices each year!
Screaming Eagle at Auctions
These Napa Cabernet cult wines are extremely popular at auctions and are valued anywhere above $1,600. For example, a 6-liter bottle of 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet sold at $500,000 at a 2000 auction in Napa Valley!
Between the 1992 and 2015 vintages, nearly 16,746 bottles have come under the auctioneer’s hammer.
Which brings us to one of the most frequently asked questions about the wine:
Why Is Screaming Eagle So Expensive?
The Screaming Eagle is so expensive mainly for intangible reasons - consistent near-perfect scores from critics, scarcity, relative inaccessibility, impeccable winemaking practices, and the relentless focus on quality!
Before the 1990s, the only wines that demanded such prices were the old and rare bottles from a prestigious appellation or two in Bordeaux or Burgundy or boutique producers like Penfolds in Australia.
Let’s go into detail into the main intangible reasons why Screaming Eagle wines command skyrocketing prices.
1. Low produce of high-quality grapes
Not only has Screaming Eagle’s annual production been kept under 800 cases all these years, but the estate also shows no signs of cranking it up any time soon.
This is mostly due to the small size of the estate. At just over 48 acres available for vines, it is Napa Valley’s smallest winery, and even a generous harvest will lead to low production.
But more importantly, producing such a small number of elegant cult wine bottles allow Screaming Eagle to turn it into a seller’s market.
2. Exclusive sales
You won’t find a bottle of Screaming Eagle in stock at the local store. To place an order, you’d have to be a part of an esteemed mail order list.
And how can you get onto the estate’s mailing list?
Just sign up on the winery’s website and spend a couple of years on a waiting list, and you’d get there eventually!
So acquiring a Screaming Eagle is not for the faint-hearted. The brand commands a dedicated fan following of loyal wine lovers and investors.
3. Praise from critics
High critic scores are arguably part of Screaming Eagle’s mythology since its 1992 vintage.
After receiving a 99 from Robert Parker of Wine Advocate, this Californian wine won a perfect 100 from him in 1997.
It’s almost impossible to spot a Screaming Eagle wine rated below 90.
With such incredible credentials and winemaking packed into each bottle, there’s no shortage of buyers who’d pay sky-high prices for a bottle.
How Does Screaming Eagle Fight Counterfeits?
Over the years, Screaming Eagle has inspired a huge list of copycat bottles looking for innocent buyers.
Seeing how trust is the sole foundation of their relationship with the customer, the winery has launched its anti-counterfeit measures.
From the 2010 batch onwards, you’ll find a bubble code on a label between the foil and the bottle. It’s impossible to replace this security seal without destroying the packaging.
This label contains a serial number that you can verify on the official Screaming Eagle website.
The Best Screaming Eagle Vintages To Buy In 2021 (Includes Taste, Prices)
Let’s find out how the quintessential character of their Oakville parcel expresses itself through the best Screaming Eagle vintages.
1. Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1992
The inaugural Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon vintage by Screaming Eagle made instant waves in the wine world. Its magic is credited to winemaker Heidi Peterson Barrett, who brought her expertise from the Dalla Valle Vineyard.
This iconic Screaming Eagle was aged in 60% new oak and bottled unfiltered.
What makes the 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet special?
The ‘92 Screaming Eagle is special due to its high critics scores and limited production.
Wine critic Robert Parker gave it a spectacular score of 99. Following such an elegant reception by the critics, wine lovers flocked to buy the first vintage. And, with just 225 cases available for purchase, prices skyrocketed.
This was the wine, a six-liter bottle of which, was sold for $500,000 at an auction (merely five years after its release!)
Subtle notes of oak and blackcurrants are followed by layers of ripe and intense dark fruit like black cherry, berries, and dark currant. Its strong tannin content is concealed by deep, rich flavor and a balanced finish.
Price of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1992: $12,898 per bottle
2. Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
A blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc, the ‘02 is reminiscent of the inaugural wine from 10 years ago. It was packed in just over 600 cases. Experts predict this wine will age up to 25 years.
This California wine is a pure blackcurrant liqueur in a deep purple color. It carries the notes of creme de cassis, cherry, licorice, and smoke. Its rich tannin content and acidity will hold its structure intact for many years to come.
Price of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 2002: $2,967 per bottle
3. Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
The 2007 Screaming Eagle was the second (after 1997) to get a perfect 100 from wine critic Robert Parker. The estate continued its tradition of blending Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The year marked a transfer of the winery’s ownership from Jean Phillips to Charles Banks and Stan Kroenke. But this did not upset the estate’s strong foundation.
The Napa Cabernet contains the Cuvee’s signature notes of cassis and dark fruit like black currant, and the delightful scent of roses, violets, and lavender. But it also takes on layers of camphor licorice and a smoky opulence. It has a silky texture and an extraordinarily long finish.
Price of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 2007: $2,300 per bottle
4. Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
The recently replanted vineyards allowed the estate to produce more wine each year. The exceptional 2008 vintage can be found in 680 cases.
It cemented the reputations of winemaker Andy Erickson and estate manager David Abreu as the real stars of the Screaming Eagle winery.
Enjoy a rich expression of the Oakville vineyard’s loamy and fragrant terroir with classic cassis aromas. Its full-bodied, bold, and rich structure allows the masculine flavor of mocha and espresso to come through strongly.
Price of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 2008: $1,833 per bottle
5. Screaming Eagle Sauvignon Blanc 2010
2010 marks the first year of the estate’s extremely rare Sauvignon Blanc white wine. You’ll find only two acres of this white wine grape on the Screaming Eagle estate - they made just 200 bottles in 2010!
This pale yellow and moderately acidic wine contains melon, lychee, and pineapple notes. The fresh and crisp white ends with a vibrant citric finish.
Price of Screaming Eagle Sauvignon Blanc 2010: $6,193 per bottle
6. Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
The 2012 vintage was only the second one by winemaker Nick Gislason. He joined the estate as Andy Erickson’s assistant and took over as a full-time winemaker in the challenging year of 2011.
By 2012, Screaming Eagle’s production also went up to 820 cases, giving many more wine lovers a chance to collect this delicious wine.
This California Cabernet was the fourth Screaming Eagle to receive a 100 from Robert Parker.
This bold and structured wine reveals hints of graphite, new oak, and licorice. Your palate will also pick up on fresh spearmint, lavender sprig, and black currant.
Price of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 2012: $2,370 per bottle
7. Screaming Eagle 'The Flight - Second Flight’ 2016
In 2006, the estate started producing a second wine with declassified grapes from its vineyard that were deemed unfit for its primary Cuvee.
However, this Merlot based Second Flight blend is just as widely loved and admired by wine lovers and critics alike.
The bold and expressive Screaming Eagle Second Flight contains whiffs of plums, raspberries, violets, dark chocolate, and just a hint of menthol. Its silky tannin content and bold structure lead to a long, perfumed finish.
Price of Screaming Eagle 'The Flight - Second Flight’ 2016: $500 per bottle
8. Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon (1.5 Liter Magnum - OWC) 2017
2017 was a tough year for Napa Valley. Local wildfires left soot residue in the air, tainting a majority of the crop. Screaming Eagle almost didn’t release a wine that year.
But it finally managed to select a small batch for production, all sold in magnum bottles.
Despite the challenging harvest and low produce, the 2017 vintage captures the royal texture and exquisite aromas of this Cuvee. Experience the creme the cassis and acacia flower scent in it against a subtle background of oak.
Price of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 2017: $4,750 for (1.5 Liter Magnum - OWC)
Where Can You Buy Screaming Eagle Cabernet?
The safest way to acquire a Screaming Eagle Cabernet and other wines is to get on their mailing list. From there you’d move onto their active list on a first come first serve basis!
Or you could wait for years for a bottle to turn up on the secondary market and scout every wine bidding site there is.
But how many auctions can a person realistically attend?
Here’s the easiest way to cut through the noise and realize your dream of owning a Screaming Eagle:
Invest In Screaming Eagle Wine and Other Rare Wines Through Vinovest
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Ready to Own a Masterpiece?
The Screaming Eagle winery represents the very best of winemaking traditions combining age-old knowledge about viticulture with advances in winemaking techniques.
The result is charming and delicious wines with high aging potential and market value.
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