“First and foremost, I will be perpetuating the fresh, delicate style of wine that has been the Screaming Eagle hallmark since 1992. Across two winemakers before me (Heidi and Andy), that style has stayed remarkably consistent, which is part of the uniqueness of this ranch. The character of the vineyard really asserts itself. What will be new is the discovery of the young vine plots, and the ways that we can farm them individually to get the best site expression possible. It is a winemaker’s dream to be able to truly understand and manage a vineyard acre by acre and spend an enormous amount of time out there with the vines,” Nick Gislason, Winemaker.
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 spectacular wine, a massive, fruit forward beast, with incredible dark fruits and power: it is a wonderful, special and breath-taking wine to drink.
The Screaming Eagle is the world’s most spoken about cult wine. In 15 short years, the wine, produced in miniscule quantities in a shed in Oakville, has become a wine lover’s ultimate dream to taste. It is not just its rarity that makes this wine taste different to others. It is the charmingly refined style that makes Screaming Eagle so appealing, with its satiny tannins, vivid acidity and very sophisticated fruitiness. It is not a big blockbuster wine with overextraction. Instead it is an opulent and refined wine that not only drinks well when young but also has great ageing potential.
Located at the foot of the Vaca Mountains in Oakville, the vineyard has a multilayered soil composition that is rich in iron. The well-draining volcanic rock mixes well with clay, ensuring the right balance of stress for the vines. The daily cooling fog influence helps the grapes to keep their freshness.
“I believe these red, volcanic soils produce some of the most compelling Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc-based wines in the world.” Andrew Erickson adds.
Philosophy in winemaking
“The goal is to bring out the terroir, and the natural qualities of the fruit. As I described, the natural freshness and elegance in wine are two defining features that I want to highlight, along with the richness and minerality.” Andrew Erickson states and adds: “Most of the work that takes place is done in the vineyard; getting the appropriate crop load, the right amount of sun on the fruit, and picking when the fruit is properly ripe, and not too ripe. In the winery we try to let the wines evolve naturally while taking great care to retain the fruit character in the wine. In the end, the vineyard should be what shows, and not the hand of the winemaker.” Erickson emphasises.
One of the most respected real estate brokers in Napa, Jean Philips had brokered deals for Bill Harlan, the Araujos, and the Dalla Valles, among others. When she stepped on to the Screaming Eagle property in the 1980s, she knew this was a magical place and that she had to have it. The rest is history. The new owner, Stanley Kroeknie, has invested heavily in site reconstruction, as well as in plantings and the team, which includes David Abreu as the vineyard consultant. 2009 will most likely be the last harvest to be vinified in the old facilities.