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April 16, 2015

Screaming Eagle 2012

screagle

Screaming Eagle is the acme of great Californian wine and axiomatically the defining cult wine of the US. It is also the most expensive American wine and arguably the most critically acclaimed, the lack of availability in the market is astonishing. All 500-750 cases produced annually go to the lucky recipients at the top of a long queue of subscribers. It is nearly impossible to secure older vintages and is globally sought after.

The 2012 vintage in California is fantastic, the 2012 and 2013s have been compared to the 2009s and 2010s in Bordeaux. Parker describes the Screaming Eagle 2012 as ‘perfect’, so this is possibly the best yet. The £4,950 price tag is eye-watering for three bottles, however, the historical data is very compelling. Here is a comparison to the other 100 Parker point Screaming Eagle vintages:

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Market demand is very high and this will sell out immediately. Despite the high release price the 2012 is a strong position and the vintage premium above suggests this will rise in price quickly. The lowest listed market price in the UK currently is £5,300.

Screaming Eagle is now spoken of in the same breath as Petrus, Lafite Rothschild and DRC, with production and availability mirroring the latter. The price tag of Screaming Eagle continues to rise, with the average price per bottle across all vintages increasing from £1,000 in 2007 to £1,600 per bottle to 2014 and to £1,850 today, excluding the new 2011 and 2012 vintages. It is interesting to note that during this time it has been uncorrelated to the market overall, experiencing smaller volatility and low correlation to Bordeaux prices.

A little background on the mythical Screaming Eagle
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 who appointed Heidi Barrett (wife of Bo Barrett from Montelena) as her winemaker. She bottled her first vintage in 1992, subsequently releasing it in 1995 when it was awarded 99 points by 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 make 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 of 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 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.

Screaming Eagle 2012, 3×75, £4,950 IB or £5,947.38 duty and VAT
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 100 Points, tasted Oct 2014
The perfect 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Screaming Eagle is composed of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc. Made in the classic, iconic Screaming Eagle style that the original proprietress, Jean Philipps, first showcased in the early 1990s, before the winery was sold to Stan Kroenke, the inky/purple-colored, seamless 2012 possesses an extraordinary set of aromatics consisting of pure blackcurrant liqueur, licorice, acacia flowers, graphite and a subtle hint of new oak. Full-bodied, opulent and voluptuous, this profound wine is as prodigious as I thought it would be last year when tasted from barrel. It should age effortlessly for 20 or more years. Drink 2014 – 2034

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