Screaming Eagle Wines

Screaming Eagle Wines: The American Dream in a Bottle

Screaming Eagle Wines: The American Dream in a Bottle

Published on May 8, 2023 by

Screaming Eagle Winery, nestled in the Oakville region of Napa Valley, California, is an epitome of the American dream. This cult winery, responsible for producing some of the most exclusive and sought-after wines in the world, has quickly gained a reputation for its exceptional quality, limited production, and skyrocketing prices. The story of Screaming Eagle is one of passion, dedication, and the pursuit of perfection that has made it a legend among wine connoisseurs. In the information below, we delve into the history, the winemaking process, and the outstanding characteristics of Screaming Eagle wines.

History of Screaming Eagle

The history of Screaming Eagle Winery can be traced back to 1986 when real estate agent and wine lover, Jean Phillips, purchased a 57-acre vineyard in Oakville. At the time, the vineyard was planted with a mix of grape varieties, including the now-iconic Cabernet Sauvignon. Phillips decided to replant the vineyard exclusively with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, following the advice of her vineyard manager, John Caldwell.

The first vintage of Screaming Eagle was produced in 1992, and it was an instant hit among wine critics. The legendary wine critic, Robert Parker, awarded the 1992 vintage a perfect 100-point score, describing it as "one of the greatest young Cabernets I have ever tasted." This endorsement from Parker catapulted Screaming Eagle into the limelight, and the demand for this elusive wine quickly outpaced its limited supply.

The Winemaking Process

Screaming Eagle is renowned for its meticulous winemaking process, which combines traditional techniques with modern technology. The winery's commitment to quality is evident in every aspect of production, from vineyard management to the final bottling.

The vineyard is farmed using sustainable practices, with a strong focus on canopy management and soil health. The vines are carefully pruned and thinned to ensure the highest quality fruit, with yields kept intentionally low to concentrate flavors in the grapes.

The grapes are hand-harvested and sorted to remove any subpar fruit. They are then gently destemmed and cold-soaked for several days to extract color and flavor compounds from the skins. The winemaking team carefully monitors the fermentation process, adjusting the temperature and maceration time to achieve the desired flavor profile.

Once fermentation is complete, the wine is aged in French oak barrels for approximately 18 to 24 months. The oak barrels impart subtle flavors and tannins to the wine, adding complexity and structure. After aging, the wine is bottled unfiltered to preserve its integrity and intensity of flavors.

The Wines

Screaming Eagle produces three main wines: the flagship Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon, Second Flight (a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc), and The Flight (a blend of predominantly Merlot with smaller amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc).

  1. Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon: The flagship wine of the winery, this iconic Cabernet Sauvignon is the epitome of luxury and exclusivity. The wine is known for its opulent, full-bodied style, with intense flavors of blackcurrant, black cherry, and cassis, underscored by nuances of mocha, graphite, and cedar. The velvety tannins and extraordinary length on the palate make this wine a true collector's item.
  2. Second Flight: Launched in 2006, Second Flight is a more approachable and affordable alternative to the flagship wine. This blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc offers a more fruit-forward and elegant profile. The wine showcases notes of red and black fruits, such as raspberries, blackberries, and cherries, along with hints of chocolate, tobacco, and subtle spices. The plush tannins and balanced acidity make it an excellent choice for those seeking a taste of the Screaming Eagle experience without the exorbitant price tag.
  3. The Flight: Introduced in 2012, The Flight is a Merlot-dominant blend that showcases the winery's commitment to producing exceptional wines across the board. This wine features a rich, silky texture with flavors of black cherry, plum, and blackberry, complemented by undertones of dark chocolate, truffle, and sweet spice. The Flight is a testament to the potential of Merlot in the hands of a skilled winemaker and serves as an exciting addition to Screaming Eagle's portfolio.

Exclusivity and Rarity

The exclusivity and rarity of Screaming Eagle wines can be attributed to their limited production and the winery's strict allocation policy. With an annual production of just 500 to 800 cases, the wines are primarily sold through a mailing list and are rarely available in retail stores or restaurants. This scarcity has driven prices to astronomical heights, with some vintages fetching upwards of $3,000 per bottle at auction.

The Future of Screaming Eagle

Despite the numerous changes in ownership and winemaking personnel over the years, Screaming Eagle has remained steadfast in its pursuit of excellence. The winery's current winemaker, Nick Gislason, has been at the helm since 2012 and has continued the legacy of producing exceptional, world-class wines. The future of Screaming Eagle seems promising, with the team continually striving to refine their winemaking techniques and elevate the quality of their wines.

In Conclusion

Screaming Eagle Winery embodies the American dream in a bottle. The winery's meteoric rise to fame and its unwavering commitment to quality have earned it a place among the world's most iconic wine producers. Although the exclusivity and astronomical prices may make Screaming Eagle wines an aspirational goal for most wine enthusiasts, the winery serves as a reminder of the potential that lies within the passionate pursuit of excellence.

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