Today we are delighted to be able to release Scarecrow 2017, one of the rarest wines in the world. The 2017 vintage in California was one of very warm weather. Indeed, it started with winter floods and heavy rain between January and April. May and June saw two heat spikes, with July and August some of the hottest in recent memory. However, the vintage will be remembered for the October wildfires. These destroyed some vineyards, blocked off access to others and caused widespread power cuts: some Estates harvested in good fashion. As such quality varies considerably, some wines are luxurious and others overripe or even unbottled. As one would expect production is heavily down. Scarecrow 2017 is one of the wines which delivers in spades. It has been awarded 97 points from Lisa Perrotti-Brown of The Wine Advocate, 97+ from Jeb Dunnuck who declares it is ‘Full-bodied, powerful, and structured on the palate, this is an elegant, tight, closed Scarecrow that’s going to need 4-5 years of bottle age. It’s going to age beautifully, though.’ Antonio Galloni of Vinous Media says ‘Best of all, the 2017 will drink well with only minimal cellaring. It is without question one of the wines of the vintage.’
Aside from being highly allocated and hugely desirable Scarecrow is mentioned in the same breath as cult California Cabernets such as Screaming Eagle, yet it remains about one third of the price and in 2017 Scarecrow production has been heavily decreased. This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine is truly incredible, its ripe, balanced and elegant fruit profile means it can be enjoyed immediately yet will improve in bottle for 30 years. Scarecrow is certainly one the must own Napa wines in 2017. Indeed, its score puts it on par with the great 2012 vintage and just behind 2015. We can offer it today at £1,450 per case of three, a large discount to the market price in the UK of £1,700, a staggering 15% discount to market.
What makes Scarecrow special?
Although the Scarecrow winery was founded in 2002, the vines date back to the 1940s. In 1943, Joseph Judson Cohn, the famous MGM executive producer of The Wizard of Oz and Ben Hur, purchased a 79 ha property in Rutherford, adjacent to the Inglenook Winery. Soon after, his friend John Daniels, who had convinced Cohn to buy the land in the first place, agreed to manage the Estate. Together they planted grapes and the vineyard soon became known as one of the leading terroirs in Napa Valley. As a result, the fruit has been used by Inglenook, Opus One and Phelps Insignia.
Today Scarecrow is recognised as having some of the oldest vines in the Napa Valley. When the prevalent thinking in Napa was to replant vineyards with European rootstock, John Daniels kept the originals. This was considered risky at the time, but paid off when phylloxera destroyed the replanted rootstocks. As such Scarecrow’s vines boast some of the only vines from 1945 in the world. In 2009 these old vines poetically led to the creation of the most expensive bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon ever sold, with an auction lot of five cases of Scarecrow selling for $80,000. Two years later, five cases sold for $125,000, firmly establishing it as one of Napa’s cult Cabernets.
In 1996, Cohn died at the age of 100 and his heirs put the property up for sale to help resolve an inheritance dispute. From 1996 to 2002 the value of the property rose from an estimated $4 million dollars to $33.6 million, when Francis Ford Coppola of the Rubicon Estate Winery bought the Estate in a packaged deal with Cohn’s grandson, Bret Lopez. Coppola received 140 acres, while Lopez, and his partner Mimi DeBlasio, received the property’s buildings, 25 acres of planted vineyards and 2 acres of the original Cabernet vines planted in 1945. Lopez immediately employed the revered winemaker Celia Welch to create Scarecrow Cabernet Sauvignon. The name Scarecrow pays homage to one of the most popular characters in the Wizard of Oz.