Screaming Eagle is axiomatically the defining cult wine of the US. It is also the most expensive American wine and arguably the most critically acclaimed. All 500-750 cases produced annually go to the lucky recipients at the top of a long queue of subscribers.
Screaming Eagle is located on the stony valley floor of the Napa Valley in Oakville between the Vaca and Mayacamas mountains. Oakville AVA is considered as one of the premier wine appellations in the world and known for producing superb Bordeaux varietals. The Estate was originally purchased by owner and founder Jean Philips in 1986. Most of the grapes of the vineyard was sold to other Napa wineries, until she decided to take a sample of her wine to Robert Mondavi for an opinion in 1992. She was encouraged to bottle it, and the rest is history. She appointed Heidi Barrett (wife of Bo Barrett from Montelena) as her winemaker She bottled her first vintage in 1992, subsequently releasing it in 1995 where it was awarded 99 points from Robert Parker: overnight it became the most celebrated wine in California. Philips replanted the 18 hectare vineyard with Cabernet Sauvignon (which generally dominates the assemblage), Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, making the wine a true Bordeaux blend.
Philips sold Screaming Eagle to Charles Banks and Stan Kroenke in 2006 for an undisclosed sum, rumoured to be $30m dollars. In 2009 Banks left Screaming Eagle and Stan Kroenke is now the sole proprietor. The current winemaker Nick Gislason, formally with Harlan Estate, was officially appointed in 2012 and Michael Rolland is consultant Oenologist. Under the stewardship of Stan Kroenke, the vineyard has been replanted and a new cellar has been built. He has introduced a second wine called The Flight (formally Second Flight) which produces 550 to 800 cases per year, it is a premeditated attempt to solidify Screaming Eagle’s Romanee-Conti-esque legendary status.
One would not say that Screaming Eagle offers value versus price, but like Romanee-Conti it exists in another league. There is so little produced, with most of the production remaining in the US to be consumed domestically, that the global market clammers for whatever it can secure. Screaming Eagle is a spectacular wine, a massive fruit forward beast, with incredible dark fruits and power: it is a wonderful, special and breath-taking wine to drink.