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News

The launch of the latest vintage of Screaming Eagle has aroused a certain amount of interest.

Clients of Amphora Portfolio Management who bought the 100-point-scoring 2010 have made very good money, and for the last year or so people have followed up with purchases of the 2012 which also scored a maximum 100-points.

An interesting feature of this pair of perfect Cabernet Sauvignons is that the 2012 trades at a 20% discount to its elder sister. That, of course, is a pricing anomaly. Investors should be adding the 2012 if they feel comfortable about the market, or at the very least switching out of the 2010 into the 2012.

The 2013 has earned a creditable 97+ points from Robert Parker. When he first tasted it in October 2014 he raved about it thinking it could match the 2012. His initial rating was 98-100, the spread being consistent with an en primeur tasting.

A year later he firmed up his score to 97+ adding: “This reminds me somewhat of the 2010 Screaming Eagle. Full-bodied, rich, but perfectly balanced, it’s another terrific example of this iconic estate. It should drink well for 30 or more years.”

We might therefore expect a discount to the 2012 to account for the rating differential, but in the early market showing the pricing seems much the same.

Something is therefore out of kilter. Either the 2010 is priced correctly, in which case the cheaper 2013 is probably the right price, making the 2012 look very cheap, or the 2012 is the right price, making both the 2010 and the 2013 look unjustifiably expensive.

If you think the 2013 is priced for a subsequent upgrade to 100, which would be unlikely, it having been tasted as recently as last October, the 2012 is still the banker having already achieved that rating.

 

These considerations also beg the question: what place ‘trophy wines’ in a diversified portfolio?

A trophy wine is a wine which seems not to observe the pricing rules which apply to the rest of the market, whether this results from tiny production and the resulting immediate scarcity, amazing marketing, or a producer achieving a cult status for whatever reason.

The issues in respect of trophy wines are twofold. Firstly, given their relative scarcity, is there an adequate secondary market to offer sufficient liquidity should an investor want to sell?

Secondly, is the price so high that it compromises the desired balance in a fine wine portfolio, by becoming too dominant a feature? In other words, to what extent is the risk profile affected by the inclusion of a highly-priced and potentially more illiquid component?

The answers partly depend on the scale of the investment, in absolute monetary terms. It is difficult to be definitive in this market place, but if Amphora’s client base is anything to go by, a £100,000 portfolio would be somewhat higher than the average.

Even at that level it is worth acknowledging that you can have a very well balanced portfolio of about 25 different wines from around the world covering a variety of sectors and vintages, which would be considered ideal from as risk-weighted perspective, or you could have a single case of DRC 2001, which would not.

 

In such a portfolio what exposure to the ‘trophy sector’ would be permissible, or advisable, if you still wanted to retain some control of risk?

The way to think about this still revolves around the investor’s pain tolerance threshold, because if you have 20% exposure overall to a wine which goes down 30%, then clearly you have to make up the 6% performance hit elsewhere. That doesn’t seem too bad, even if undesirable! If, however, you have 50% exposure and it goes down 30% then that “undesirability” in investment terms veers towards the unacceptable.

At Amphora Portfolio Management our advice to clients is never to exceed that 20% figure if you are looking to retain a coherent degree of balance and risk. And this is where you can argue that producers like Screaming Eagle have done their bit. They market their wares in cases of three bottles.

Given the vital importance of provenance and storage to the fine wine investor, it is helpful for a wine to be sold in an ‘Original Wooden Case’ (OWC), and happily in the case of most trophy wines, these come in three packs as well as six and 12. Indeed, top flight Burgundies can arrive in a single bottle OWC. Many DRCs, of course, cost around £10,000 a bottle, so you really need to be investing upwards of £50,000 if you are keen to include one.

When investing there is no real need always to buy full cases. What you want is levels of financial exposure on a diversified basis. One bottle of DRC costing £8,000 is exactly the same in fine wine investment exposure terms as six bottles of Petrus costing £8,000 and 12 bottles of Latour costing £8,000.

 

 

Beginning with the 2010 vintage of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon and Second Flight Red Wine all bottles have been applied with a bubble coded security system which enables the verification of authenticity. This label is placed between the foil and the bottle creating a security seal that cannot be detached without the seal and foil being visibly damaged.

If you have questions or are having trouble with authenticating the bottle please call 707.944.0749.

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History

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. 

Historical backround: One of the most respected real estate brokers in Napa Valley, vineyard founder Jean Phillips had brokered deals for people such as Bill Harlan, the Araujos, and the Dalla Valles, among others. When she stepped on to the Screaming Eagle property in the 1980s, she knew instantly this was a magical place and that she had to have it. The rest is history. Current owner Stan Kroenke has invested heavily in site reconstruction, as well as in plantings and the winemaking team. Credit must also be given to former partner Charles Banks, as it was he who assembled the new team, which includes David Abreu and Michael Rolland – the former coming in as the vineyard consultant. The 2009 was the the last harvest vinified in the old facilities. The current winemaker is Nick Gislason, Rob Black is the assistant winemaker and the world renowned Michel Rolland is a consultant.

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Vineyards

The terroir 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.

The estate's former winemaker Andy Erickson has said: “I believe these red, volcanic soils produce some of the most compelling Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc-based wines in the world.” 

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Winemaking

Philosophy in winemaking: “The thing about this vineyard, is that it has an innate and unique ability to produce wines that are simultaneously powerful, with a distinct personality, but also refined and elegant, perfumy, fresh, with silky tannin, fine and very long. They are vibrant wines, and this is a core part of their personality. In terms of farming and winemaking, we are working to respect those natural characteristics, those strengths, of the place. A naturalist farming approach helps us do that in the vineyard, and our winemaking is very adaptive to the specific needs of each season. We are working to try and manifest the most healthy and pleasurable expression of any given vintage. You might say our winemaking approach is more adaptive than prescriptive. Listening and paying close attention to the vineyard and the young wines is always the first step.” Nick Gislason emphasises.

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Inside information

Screaming Eagle ’97 Reaches Almost $4,000 a Bottle at Acker Sale 

A single bottle of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon from the California grower’s 1997 vintage, its most expensive since 1992, sold for $3,936 at a New York sale this month as demand for rare wines pushed prices higher.

The lot was sold through Acker Merrall & Condit on Oct. 5. A bottle of the same vintage cost $3,690 at an Acker sale in June, $3,485 in both April and September and $3,198 in February, according to the auction house’s online data.

The focus of investors and collectors has switched away from Bordeaux lately, buoying demand for older vintages and rare wines from regions including Burgundy, the Rhone and California. Prices of top Bordeaux wines on London’s Liv-ex declined during the past seven months following a muted investor response to the 2012 vintage and reduced Chinese demand reflecting a crackdown on spending by officials.

“Screaming Eagle has become one of the iconic wines,” Acker Chief Executive Officer John Kapon said in a telephone interview. He said auctions are reflecting an “active healthy market with a lot of strong prices.”

The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index, a benchmark for top Bordeaux wines, has fallen 6 percent since mid-March after gains of 8 percent in the first 10 weeks of this year, leaving it up less than 2 percent since the end of 2012.

Hamptons Sale

The vineyard producing Screaming Eagle is in Napa’s Oakville district and prices reflect both high scores from critics and small production levels, according to data on the website of the Antique Wine Company, a London-based broker, which describes it as “one of Napa Valley’s most famous ‘cult wines.’”

The estate’s first vintage dates back to 1992, and its wines are sold by mailing list only, limited to three bottles per client, and to selected restaurants, according to Antique Wine Company. There is a waiting list to join the allocation pool for the wines, according to Screaming Eagle’s website.

The lots of Screaming Eagle 1997 sold through Acker in recent months included three bottles which sold for $11,070 at an auction in Bridgehampton, New York in June, two separate three-bottle lots which sold in New York in April and September for $10,455 and a single bottle which sold in New York in February for $3,198, according to Acker’s online archives.

At the Acker auction in New York earlier this month an eight-bottle collection of Screaming Eagle spanning the years 1996, 1998 and every vintage between 2001 and 2006 sold for $14,145 while three bottles of the 2007 wine sold for $7,995, according to Acker data.

The 1997 Screaming Eagle is the estate’s most expensive wine after the inaugural 1992 vintage, while the 2007 is the highest priced of the past 10 years, according to merchant data tracked by the London-based Liv-ex market.

U.S. wine critic Robert Parker assigned a perfect 100-point score to Screaming Eagle wines from both the 1997 and 2007 vintages, according to data on the eRobertParker.com website. 

By Guy Collins

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Pekka Nuikki / Editor of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Screaming Eagle . In a tasting of  22 wines 

Heitz Martha's Vineyard 1974. Still a big, powerful wine that sums up the richness of this perfect Napa vintage. It is densely fruity, spicy with an enormous black plum and minty fruit character to go with the acidity. It's concentrated while still showing such wonderfully pure fruit. This is a monumental, eternal wine!

5m 15d ago

 Juha Lihtonen / The Best Scandinavian Sommelier 2003, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Screaming Eagle . In a tasting of  13 wines 

Top Napa Cabs vs Top Clarets from 5 decades from 1960s to 2010s – Palmer 1961, Heitz Martha's Vineyard 1974, Chappellet 1982, Lafite 1985, Latour 1995, Harlan 1997, Screaming Eagle 1999, Mouton 2002, Bryant 2014 – and the winner is......

5m 23d ago

 Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Screaming Eagle . In a tasting of  18 wines 

Dana Lotus Vineyard 2016 / 100 points / With more minerality as well as a bloody, iron character, the perfect 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Lotus Vineyard is 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petit Verdot that saw 27 months in new French oak barrels. Incredible notes of blackcurrants, graphite, tobacco, Asian spices, and dried herbs all emerge from this full-bodied, ultra-pure, layered, and just incredible wine that tops out my scale. Coming from a vineyard at the base of Howell Mountain and aged in 90% new French oak, it has the class to offer pleasure even today yet is going to benefit from 7-8 years of bottle age and keep for 3-4 decades. It’s one of the greatest young Cabernets I’ve ever tasted.

2y 1m ago

 James Suckling., Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Screaming Eagle . In a tasting of  26 wines 

Château d' Yquem 2001 / 100 points / What a pure wine, with honey, caramel, cooked apple, bon bon, and pear tart. Dried apricots and peaches develop with time in the glass. What a palate, it is very sweet and rich at the impact, but then it’s dense and opulent like a Grand Cru Burgundy, think Montrachet. Apples, honey, and pineapples with hints of mango on the palate. This is an incredible wine, a real dream, a legend. 150 grams of RS

2y 9m ago

 Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  2 wines  from  Screaming Eagle . In a tasting of  26 wines 

Dominus 2016 / Another possible legend in the making is the 2016 Dominus, a classic blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot and the rest Cabernet Franc brought up in 40% new French oak. Pure, pristine notes of charcoal, cold fireplace, smoke tobacco, and both blue and black fruits all flow to a full-bodied 2016 that has incredible elegance and finesse, yet also depth and density. It’s more backward and reserved than the 2015 and needs 4-5 years of cellaring. It will unquestionably live for 25-30 years. 98+

2y 9m ago

 Jancis Robinson MW, Wine Writer (United Kingdom)  tasted  3 wines  from  Screaming Eagle . In a tasting of  26 wines 

Opus One 1998 / El Nino brought rain and changeable weather followed by exceptionally late Oct harvest. A vintage damned from the start. Cabernet Sauvignon 91%, Cabernet Franc 7%, Merlot 1%, Petit Verdot & Malbec 1%. Skin contact 36 days, 16 months in new French oak.


Very, very glossy crimson with some evolution already at the rim. Toasty, open nose. Sweet start to the palate. Nothing like the 1997 in nobility. Tannins and acidity crowd in at the finish. Jagged. Difficult to predict evolution. Slightly hot finish.

2y 9m ago

 Stephen Tanzer, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  5 wines  from  Screaming Eagle . In a tasting of  25 wines 

Screaming Eagle 2010 / (75% cabernet sauvignon, 16% merlot and 9% cabernet franc; the harvest here ended on October 13, about two weeks later than usual): Brilliant ruby-red. Urgent aromas of crushed boysenberry, wild herbs, licorice and spearmint are complemented by sexy oak tones. Densely packed and electric, with great energy to the highly concentrated, pliant flavors of black fruits, cocoa powder and flowers. Still quite youthfully backward, but the inexorable slowly mounting finish and big but noble tannins suggest a long and glorious evolution in bottle. Owing to the small clusters, thick skins and concentration of tannins, this wine got a longer elevage than usual, with the bottling done at the end of November 2012.

2y 10m ago

 Antonio Galloni, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  5 wines  from  Screaming Eagle . In a tasting of  26 wines 

Screaming Eagle 2007 / "As impossible as it might seem, the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon takes things to another level. An exquisite, celestial bouquet melds into endless layers of fruit as this rich, voluptuous wine blossoms on the palate. Full-bodied and seductive, the 2007 conquers all of the senses with its head spinning, beautiful personality. As always, Screaming Eagle is a bit more restrained next to Napa Valley's other heavy hitters, yet the pedigree of this opulent vintage comes through in spades. A kaleidoscope of aromas and flavors flows through to the creamy, textured finish. I have tasted the 2007 several times recently and it has always been magnificent. The 2007 appears to be shutting down just a touch, but that is probably a good thing for the future. 

2y 10m ago

 Antonio Galloni, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  3 wines  from  Screaming Eagle . In a tasting of  20 wines 

The 2010 Harlan Estate is a total head-turner. Powerful, dense and exotically ripe – as so many wines are in this vintage – the 2010 dazzles with magnificent intensity. Baritone inflections run through the black cherry, graphite, smoke, tar and licorice flavors. Heat spikes at the end of what was generally a cold growing season yielded wines that bring together structure and fruit density.

2y 11m ago

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