Learn everything about Screaming Eagle, Napa Valley California Cabernet Sauvignon wine producer profile, wine tasting notes, wine and food pairing tips, best vintages, history of the property, information on their wine making techniques, terroir and soil. You can also read about the Grapes used for California wine and learn about the extensive History of Napa Valley, California Wines
Screaming Eagle History, Overview
If any wine exemplifies the California Cult wine phenomena, it’s Screaming Eagle, which made its auspicious debut with their 1992 vintage. Within two short years, the wine quickly shot to the top of the hot, must have collectible charts. In fact, the current price for the 1992 Screaming Eagle has soared to over $7,000! That’s per bottle, not per case!
Screaming Eagle was purchased by the original owner and founder, Jean Phillips in 1986. Jean Phillips was a popular and successful realtor in the Napa valley. Jean Philips is responsible for helping many of the newer top wineries sell to their current owners.
Knowing where the best soils were, Jean Philips began acquiring land for Screaming Eagle in 1986 one small parcel at a time. For the first few years, the fruit was sold to various, local Napa wineries.
In part, it was on the advice of Robert Mondavi that Jean Philips move from grower to wine maker as the wines made from that parcel of vines were special. Jean Phillips hired Heidi Barrett, (Wife of Bo Barrett from Montelena) as her first winemaker. The debut vintage of Screaming Eagle was produced from the 1992 harvest.
Here’s something most people don’t know. For the first Screaming Eagle vintage, part of the harvest was aged in a special barrel, with an engraved top. For good luck, that same barrel has been reused for each subsequent vintage of Screaming Eagle ever since. And yes, the new owners proudly carry on that tradition.
Jean Phillips sold the winery in 2006 to Charles Banks and Stan Kroenke for a sum rumored to be in the neighborhood of 30 million dollars. Although rumors said the sum was actually a lot more money. At that time, Andy Erickson was the winemaker and David Abreu managed the vineyards.
The initial purchase was for a total of 57 acres. One of the first decisions the new owners made was to replant a large portion of their vineyards. The replanted close to 70% of their entire vineyard! This proved to be a shrewd move for numerous reasons.
First, a large portion of the vineyard was being sold to other wineries. By removing those vines, it allowed the new owners to terminate those contracts, keeping their entire harvest. Next, it allowed for the production of Screaming Eagle to increase and with their spare no expense attitude, they were also able to improve the wine they were producing at Screaming Eagle.
The introduction of a second wine, further enhanced their level of quality. In April, 2009, Charles Banks and Stan Kroenke dissolved their partnership in Screaming Eagle. This left Stan Kroenke fully in charge of Screaming Eagle, while Charles Banks formed an investment firm, Terroir Capital, which is focused on investing in the wine world.
The first major purchase for Charles Banks was Mayacamas. In a game of musical chairs with wine, the first winemaker at Screaming Eagle for the new owners, Andy Erickson left to join Mayacamas!
Early vintages of Screaming Eagle were priced at $75, if purchased direct from the winery as a member of their exclusive mailing list. By 1995, Phillips raised the price to $125. At that time, that was the most expensive wine produced in California.
By the time Phillips sold Screaming Eagle, the cost from Screaming Eagle direct to mailing list customers was about $300 per bottle. Lucky customers on their mailing list were still getting a great deal as the wine was selling for close to $1,500 per bottle!
The new owners quickly raised the price of Screaming Eagle to an unheard of $750 per bottle! Even at that price, Screaming Eagle continued to sell, even in the aftermarket for more money than purchasers were paying for the wines on the Screaming Eagle mailing list.
Prices again escalated with the release of the 2010 Screaming Eagle. The wine was offered to the few customers on the mailing list lucky enough to pay $850 per bottle, or $2,550 per three pack! Believe it or not, the aftermarket will still reward customers selling their treasured allotment.
Screaming Eagle has gone through a few winemakers since the estate was first created ranging from Heidi Barret, Andy Erickson and now Nick Gislason, who previously worked at Harlan Estate. The then 29 year old Nick Gislason was officially named the winemaker at Screaming Eagle in September, 2012.
Screaming Eagle is expensive, but the winery is focused on making the best wines possible. To give you an idea of their commitment, they declassified most of the 2017 Screaming Eagle harvest. This was due to smoke contamination from the 2017 wildfires that decimated parts of California. The majority of the production was placed into their second wine. However, long-time mailing list customers were allocated 1 magnum per person.
Screaming Eagle Vineyards, Wines, Winemaking
The annual production of Screaming Eagle remains small. It ranges from 500 to 850 cases per year, depending on the vintage. It is expected that when more of the vineyards are developed, (It is a 60 acre vineyard, although some of the land cannot be planted) production of Screaming Eagle will increase. Screaming Eagle began producing a small amount of Screaming Eagle Sauvignon Blanc, (50 cases) in 2012.
An announcement from Screaming Eagle in July stated they would cut production of the Sauvignon Blanc to one barrel, ostensibly to thwart purchasers from reselling the wine on the open market. The Sauvignon Blanc is being offered for sale to mailing list customers for $250 per bottle.
Starting in 2012, Screaming Eagle began releasing a second wine called “Second Flight”. The fruit used for Second Flight comes from young vines and declassified wine that was deemed not fit for Screaming Eagle. The debut release was offered to mailing list customers for $225 per bottle and included a vertical from 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Two bottles from each vintage were included in the set. Subsequent offerings consisted of only one vintage. Screaming Eagle Second Flight can be a very good wine. It’s however quite different from the wine of Screaming Eagle. For example, while Screaming Eagle is dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, the Second Flight can have almost as much Merlot in the blend as Cabernet Sauvignon. Prices for Second Flight have quickly risen from the debut release. The 2012 Second Flight was priced at $400 per bottle!
In 2006, 30 acres of Screaming Eagle vineyards were replanted or planted with the assistance of David Abreu. As of 2016, the vineyards of Screaming Eagle were a total of 48 planted acres. However, only 22 to 23 acres of vines are used to produce Screaming Eagle.
The remainder of the vineyard is used for the production of the Second Flight and a small amount of Sauvignon Blanc. At one point in time, a small amount of Petit Verdot was planted, but those vines were removed following the 1995 harvest.
The vineyard can be divided into at least 52 separate parcels. The soils and terroir of Screaming Eagle consist of rocks, stones, gravel, loam and clay soil. What makes the soil of Screaming Eagle unique, is the multitude of changes take place in the sub soils. Each variance in the soil adds to the complexity in the wine. There are slopes and hills in the vineyard, along with a west facing exposure.
The unique micro climate provides an early ripening terroir. Screaming Eagle is often one of the first vineyards in their part of Napa Valley to harvest. When the young vines are matured to the point where the owners of Screaming Eagle are happy with the results, the production of the most expensive Cult wine in California will rise to at least 1,000 cases.
The wine of Screaming Eagle is vinified in various oak tanks, barrels and stainless steel tanks that correspond to the size and need of each plot.
The 2010 vintage marks a positive development for Screaming Eagle and consumers worried about counterfeit wines. Starting with the 2010 Screaming Eagle and the Screaming Eagle Second Flight, all bottles come with a bubble coded security system that allows Screaming Eagle the ability for immediate, online, verification of authenticity.
This label is attached between the foil and the bottle. The creates a serious anti counterfeiting measure that cannot be detached without the seal and foil being visibly damaged. Consumers can go to the Screaming Eagle website and enter the serial number of the bottle to find out if their bottle is genuine.
Serving and Decanting Screaming Eagle with Wine, Food, Pairing Tips
Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon is best served at 15.5 degrees Celsius, 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The cool, almost cellar temperature gives the wine more freshness and lift. Young vintages of their Cabernet Sauvignon wine can be decanted for 1-3 hours, depending on the character of the vintage. This allows the wine to soften and open its perfume. Older vintages might need very little decanting, just enough to remove the sediment.
The red wine of Screaming Eagle is best served with all types of classic meat dishes, veal, pork, beef, lamb, duck, game, roast chicken, ribs, hamburgers, barbecue, roasted, braised, grilled dishes and stews. Screaming Eagle is also good with Asian dishes, hearty fish courses like tuna, salmon, mushrooms and pasta.
The white wine of Screaming Eagle is best served with all types of seafood and shellfish, sushi, sashimi, chicken, veal, pork and cheese.
Price aside, Screaming Eagle is a contender for the finest Cabernet Sauvignon produced in California. The wine displays intense purity, balance, soft textures and a unique character that makes this a true world class wine. Screaming Eagle is not about power, it’s about elegant, refined, pure fruit and rich, silky, velvet drenched textures.
Stan Kroenke maintains numerous interests in wine related ventures and investments all over the world. In California, Stan Kroenke owns Jonata. Located in Santa Barbara in Santa Ynez, Jonata produces 8 different wines that are made from an assortment of grape varieties. In addition he also owns The Hilt, located in northern Santa Barbara, in the Santa Rita appellation which focuses on producing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
In January, 2017, Stan Kroenke purchased one of the best producers in Burgundy, Bonneau de Martray. Kroenke also maintains investments in a diverse array of industries, including his sports empire. He is the owner of the Los Angeles Rams football team and majority the Aresenal, one of the top football clubs in the Premier League. Additionally, he owns the Denver Nuggets, the professional NBA team and 2 pro soccer clubs, Colorado Avalanche and the Colorado Rapids.
Screaming Eagle Wine Tasting Notes
21 Vintages 199,772 Views Sort by Vintage-Rating
My favorite vintage of Screaming Eagle Blanc, out of the the 3 tasted. The floral, white peach, lemon and pomelo aromatics were out in front. The wine is fresh, juicy, vibrant, and leaves you with a crisp citrus finish.
2,712 Views Tasted Sep 16, 2016
Smoky, black and blue fruit, flowers and wet earth open up the nose. On the palate, the wine is fresh, sweet, bright, but not crisp. It displays more of a lush, silky character. Full bodied, long, fresh and with multiple levels of depth, the fruits are sweet, but retain their vibrancy, finishing with dark chocolate, plum and cassis notes that really stick with you.
8,395 Views Tasted Sep 16, 2016
Medium/full bodied, on the truffle, cedar side of the style range with fresh, bright, crisp fruits and a clean, crunchy, elegant, blackberry finish. Second Flight is a Right Bank Bordeaux styled wine, made from a blend of 65% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Franc and 18% Cabernet Sauvignon.
5,004 Views Tasted Sep 16, 2016
Fresh squeezed grapefruit is at the core of this wine from the nose, through the finish. Add in fresh flowers, honeydew melon and green apple, with refreshing acidity and you get the picture.
2,395 Views Tasted Sep 16, 2016
Rich, but not mouth-coating. Ripe, but not overripe. Sweet, but not cloying, the wine is the epitome of balance, harmony and a unique sense of character. Still young, the wine maintains its intensity without ever coming close to being over the top. Cost aside, this is truly what great wine is all about. I am not sure I'll taste this again. But it was clearly a thrill a sip experience.
6,298 Views Tasted Sep 16, 2019
Inky in color, the wine manages to balance immense concentration with a lightness of texture and purity of fruit. What makes Screaming Eagle one of the great expressions of California Cabernet is that the ability to offer refined power. This blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc is packed with licorice, espresso, black and blue fruit with smoke. The tannins are pure silk, leaving you with a mouth filled with velvety, textured, perfectly ripe berries that taste as if they were just picked off the vine.
7,322 Views Tasted Sep 22, 2015
Open, forward and approachable, the wine is soft, medium-full bodied and fresh, with layers of sweet, ripe, dark red fruits, just a bit of chocolate, licorice and vanilla tour round things out. This is drinking quite well today.
3,675 Views Tasted Sep 16, 2019
Forward, soft, smooth and silky, this medium/full bodied open wine displays floral notes, black cherries, licorice, smoke and espresso in the nose. You can drink this young, or age it for more of an earthy character. The wine was made from a blend of 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc.
6,938 Views Tasted Sep 22, 2015
With a pronounced grapefruit, lemon peel and green apple core, the wine is waxy, citrus filled and leaves you with a fresh, bright, crisp, mineral driven, long, clean finish.
2,885 Views Tasted Sep 16, 2016
With a pronounced nose of espresso bean, caramel, smoke, chocolate and black plums, the wine is soft, silky, elegant and balanced. This lacks the concentration found in the best years as expected. Better on the palate than the nose at the moment, if the oak integrates fully into the wine, this will deserve a better score. The elegant textures and balance, which are clearly evident, are the hallmarks of this wine. I can't say this is close to being worth the money, but I'm sure others think the same thing about wines I score much higher.
5,669 Views Tasted May 12, 2015
Mind blowing in every way, this has so much depth of fruit, you can drink it, or eat it with a spoon. Inky in color, the sweet, black cherry liqueur, chocolate, licorice, jam, blue fruit and espresso nose takes you where its wants to, regardless of if you're ready or not. The wine coats your mouth, palate and stains your teeth with its insane levels of extract. This is no shy sister. it grabs your attention and keeps it too. This is still quite young.
10,356 Views Tasted Jun 5, 2015
Blending 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc, the spicy, oaky, red and black fruit filled wine delivers soft textures and an open personality. But there is a lack of depth the wine that for this much money, should offer more concentration and personality.
2,923 Views Tasted Nov 17, 2013
On the elegant side of the style range for Screaming Eagle, the blend of blackberry liqueur, coffee bean, coconut, smoke, licorice and cherries moves to a powerful, balanced display of ripe fruits and silky textures.
6,619 Views Tasted Jun 5, 2015
Medium bodied, with an equal doses of red and black fruits complicated by licorice, earth and oak, the round textured wine could have used a little more ripeness and concentration. I would not age this a long time hoping for a lot of complexity to emerge in the future.
3,890 Views Tasted Nov 17, 2013
Intense power balanced by elegance is at play here. Deep and dark in color, the nose and palate, there is a serious depth of flavor here. Opulent, dense, earthy, ripe, and very ripe, the black and blue fruits, licorice, chocolate, hints of flowers, smoke, licorice and coffee kept on coming on the nose and palate. The finish retained its depth of flavor for over 60 seconds. There was a minor touch of heat but the wealth of fruit overwhelmed it and within a few seconds, you forgot all about it as you focused on everything else that was going on in the wine.
3,653 Views Tasted Dec 6, 2021
From a blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon and 41% Merlot, it's hard to believe this is a second wine, with its layers of fresh, ripe, black cherry, blackberry, oak and fennel notes. Polished, full bodied, ripe and yet subtle, this is drinking well today.
3,237 Views Tasted Nov 17, 2013
Powerful, yet elegant, ripe, but not over ripe, the wine is full bodied, rich, opulently textured and fresh. There is depth of flavor and a sweetness to fruit. Served double blind, there was no doubt it was a California Cabernet Sauvignon of an extreme high pedigree. The wine seems to have barely moved since it was released.
4,554 Views Tasted Apr 14, 2017
Serious depth of flavor, with its potent brew of coffee bean, black cherry liqueur, blue fruit, plum and oaky notes, the wine is big, powerful, rich, intense and smoky.
4,042 Views Tasted Jun 5, 2015
Now, here's a wine you do not see every day! Big, powerful, yet balanced, with an elegace to the power, the tannic wine pops with black and red fruits, licorice, oak and forest notes. This could improve with a few more years of age.
4,869 Views Tasted Nov 17, 2013
Quite nice at the moment, with its licorice, blackberry, spice, espresso, vanilla bean and earthy nose. The tannins have a little grit in the finish. No one is going to confuse this with Screaming Eagle, but it's a nice, medium bodied, finesse styled, California Cabernet Sauvignon that is in its prime time drinking window.
2,709 Views Tasted May 24, 2013
Powerful, full-bodied, concentrated, rich, and intense, the nose kicked off with roasted Espresso beans, blackberry, smoke, and licorice with hints of dark red and blue fruits. Huge, yet poised, balanced, long, clean, and fresh, there was a touch of heat in the finish, yet the heat seemed lost in the wealth of all that ripe fruit.
2,579 Views Tasted Dec 6, 2021
Not a wine I thought I'd ever get the chance to taste twice, and yet here it is. Dark in color, powerful, deep, rich, full-bodied, intense, and amazingly young for 20 years of age, the wine is packed with licorice, smoke, cocoa, vanilla, black cherry, and blackberries from start to finish on the nose and palate. The finish was all about the intensity of fruit, length, and vibrancy on the palate.
1,973 Views Tasted Dec 6, 2021
I was surprised by how elegant this was showing. It was grace and purity of fruit. The sweetness in the cherries with the addition of licorice, smoke, truffle and tobacco were there on the palate and in the perfume. It's hard to say where this is going. My instincts say if you're going to pop a bottle, this is the right time to be tasting it.
3,551 Views Tasted Jan 12, 2018
The complex nose, with its oak, smoke, earthy, gun flint, mineral, fresh, blackberry and cherry essence gets your attention. The soft, lush, soft, sensuous, plush, ripe fruits and low acid profile feels great on your palate as well. Refined and pure, this is perhaps the most elegant styled, California Cabernet Sauvignon made today.
5,743 Views Tasted Feb 11, 2015
This kicks off with licorice, black cherry, cedar, ripe black pit fruit and berry aromas. Soft, sultry and sexy on the palate. Very concentrated with great purity, intensity and balance. The long finish ends with a blast of sweet black fruit. Screaming Eagle is about, texture, purity, finesse, elegance and balance. They will not confuse tasters with the other top Cult Cabs. Tasting these wines showed, Screaming Eagle is not like other California Cabernets.
9,302 Views Tasted Feb 12, 2010
With an attention seeking nose of incense, cherry blossoms, licorice and fresh, black cherry liqueur, you’re already hooked. On the palate, the wine is elegant, refined, lush, supple and polished. There is a freshness to the perfectly ripe fruit and a silky, sweet, sixty second, cherry finish. The wine matches elegance with balance. This is not overripe, massive or from the too much is a good thing school. Everything is exactly where it needs to be, except the price. Such is life.
10,735 Views Tasted Sep 23, 2015
This is stunning! That is, if your preference runs to elegant, soft spoken, rich, complex wines of purity and a seamless finish. I've had bottles of this that were even a little bit better, but this was truly great. Due to the incredible cost of this wine, it's not something mot of us get to taste often, if ever. Screaming Eagle is unique, elegant, sophisticated example of great California Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is not about power, it's message is one of finesse and grace, from start to finish.
9,003 Views Tasted Feb 11, 2015
With an attention seeking nose of incense, cherry blossoms, licorice and fresh, black cherry liqueur, you’re already hooked. On the palate, the wine is elegant, refined, lush, supple and polished. There is a freshness to the perfectly ripe, very pure fruit and a silky, sweet, sixty second, dark cherry finish. The wine matches elegance with balance. So you know, this was tasted against what I consider the 40 best 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon wines from California and it truly stood above every other wine at the tasting! This is not overripe, massive or from the too much is a good thing school. Everything is exactly where it needs to be, except the price. Such is life.
9,744 Views Tasted Dec 24, 2014
Licorice, charcoal, black cherry, blueberry and coffee aromas pour out of the glass as quickly as the wine leaves the bottle. Elegant, balanced, deep and round in texture, this sexy wine is filled with polished, sweet, ripe berries and chocolate.
7,863 Views Tasted Mar 10, 2011
Believe it or not, people do open these wines from time to time. These rare and expensive treats were opened by a member of one of my tasting groups last week. The wines were tasted blind. 97 Screaming Eagle starts off with a complex perfume featuring black currants, oak, caramel, chocolate and toasty oak along with tobacco and licorice scents. Elegant and sophisticated on the palate, this full bodied wine offers a long finish filled with red and black fruits.
6,522 Views Tasted Feb 12, 2010
Not really where you would expect this to be, for a wine of this much fame, and fortune. The smoky, sweet, blackberry and cherry nose, medium body and elegant, finesse styled, even charming finish were clearly that of a good wine. But for this much money, a wine should be more than good.
9,665 Views Tasted Feb 11, 2015
This offers notes of oak, cedar, spice, herbs and jammy berries. Soft and elegant in texture, with ample concentration, the wine ends in a plush, sweet, dark cherry finish.
5,687 Views Tasted Feb 12, 2010
Compelling nose of cassis, jammy berries, chocolate, blue fruit and plums. The palate is taken over by waves of plush, ripe, fat, sexy, round fruit. This opulent wine delivers decadent textures, power, elegance and finesse. What more could you want in Calif Cab?
19,260 Views Tasted Aug 17, 2007