Screaming Eagle Wine Ratings (1992
1992 Screaming Eagle - RP 99 - This small operation is located just
below the Dalla Valle vineyard near the Oakville Cross.
Screaming Eagle's Cabernet Sauvignons are going to create
quite a stir among lovers of that varietal - if they are able
to latch onto a bottle or two. The estate is owned by Tony
Bowden and Jean Phillips, one of Napa Valley's leading real
estate agents. With the help of Heidi Barrett and Gustav Dalla
Valle, this operation's debut vintage is the extraordinary
1992 Cabernet Sauvignon, one of the greatest young Cabernets I
have ever tasted. The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered,
and aged in 60% new oak. It is only sold via a mailing list,
so readers who want to taste one of the most exciting young
wines being produced should get on the list. The 175 cases of
the 1992 are followed by only 130 cases of the 1993, and a
tiny quantity of 1994, as the last two vintages were even
smaller in crop size. At present, the 1992 can be bought at
the following Napa Valley locations: the restaurants Don
Giovanni and Brava, and at the St. Helena Wine Center and
Oakville Grocery. Don't dilly-dally around on this one.
The 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon is exceptionally
impressive. The wine's opaque purple color is followed by a
sensational nose of jammy blackcurrants and subtle toasty oak.
As stunning as the aromatics are, the wine reveals even
greater richness and intensity on the palate, offering up
layers of stunningly proportioned, ripe, intense fruit, full
body, great purity, and an inner-core of sweet, creamy, highly
extracted blackcurrant/cassis fruit. The tannin is nearly
concealed behind the massive extract and richness. All the
component parts are brilliantly focused and in balance. The
finish is awesome! This is a spectacular debut release that
should age effortlessly for 20 years.
1993 Screaming Eagle - RP 97 - The 1993 Cabernet Sauvignon is a
remarkable wine, not dissimilar from the 1992. The 1993
reveals an opaque purple color, as well as a rich, jammy, pure
nose of blackcurrant/cassis fruit intertwined with scents of
minerals and high quality, spicy oak. The wine offers a
cascade of lavishly rich, opulently textured, super-extracted
fruit that is beautifully buttressed by oak and sweet tannin.
Remarkably long, pure, and rich, this is a compelling Cabernet
Sauvignon with no hard edges. Perfectly balanced, marvelously
concentrated, and exciting, look for this wine to drink well
young, but keep for 25 years.
As exciting as these wines are, as a critic, my emotions are
mixed because of the extremely limited quantities available.
My advice - get on the winery's mailing list as quantities
will be more abundant starting in 1996.
This microscopic winery located near the Oakville Crossroads,
just below Dalla Valle, created quite a stir among the handful
of Cabernet lovers who were able to latch onto a bottle when
proprietor Jean Phillips released her debut wine - the 1992.
The wine is sold exclusively via a mailing list. On the few
occasions I have been fortunate enough to taste it, the 1992
Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon has been inching toward a
three-digit score. It is unquestionably one of the greatest
Cabernet Sauvignons I have tasted. From a quantitative
perspective, the news on future availability is depressing.
Because of phylloxera, there are only 135 cases of the 1993
Cabernet Sauvignon (a worthy candidate for wine of the
vintage), 175 cases of the 1994, and a whopping 225 cases of
the 1995. However, with new plantings coming into production,
the outlook will improve; 500 cases of the 1996 will be made.
A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, and 3% Cabernet
Franc, this wine is made by winemaker/consultant Heidi
Barrett. Before his death, Gustav Dalla Valle also provided
1994 Screaming Eagle - RP 94 - The 1994 Cabernet Sauvignon is
performing even better this year than it was last. I still
believe the 1995 has a slight edge, but that may be more
noticeable 8-10 years from now than at present. The opaque
purple-colored 1994's forward, gorgeously-scented nose offers
up a smorgasbord of black fruits, along with a subtle dosage
of toasty oak and minerals. Full-bodied, with a seamless, lush
texture, this is a profoundly generous wine with everything
going for it. The finish lasts for 35 seconds. As gorgeous as
it is, this wine can be drunk young, or cellared for 20-25
years. What makes Screaming Eagle such an extraordinary wine
is its remarkably sweet, lavishly rich, opulently-textured,
super-extracted black currant and black cherry fruitiness.
Moreover, they are admirably pure, layered, velvety, and
accessible. As delicious as these wines are young, they should
age for 20 or more years, because of their extraordinary
1995 Screaming Eagle - RP 99 - The 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon is as
close to a perfect wine as I could hope to taste. This opaque
purple-colored wine exhibits a sensational purity of black
currant fruit, intermixed with a notion of raspberries,
violets, and well-disguised sweet vanillin. Full-bodied, with
remarkable intensity, exquisite symmetry, and a mid-palate and
finish to die for, this is a compelling, astonishingly
seductive Cabernet Sauvignon that can be drunk now, or
cellared for 20-25 years. I may have done this wine a
disservice by not giving it the big 3-digit score.
As I have tried so hard to articulate in past reviews, what
makes these wines so stunning is the black currant/cassis
fruit. Screaming Eagle may be the most extravagantly pure and
rich expression of cassis one can find ... short of drinking
cassis liqueur. There is an unbelievable purity to these
wines, as well as phenomenal concentration and richness, yet
in no sense are they heavy, ponderous, or out of balance.
1996 Screaming Eagle - RP 98 - The newly-released 1996 Cabernet
Sauvignon reveals lots of structure, an opaque purple color,
and the hallmark blackberry and cassis liqueur-like notes.
Silky-textured, fabulously-concentrated, and
gorgeously-balanced, it has every component part - acidity,
alcohol, tannin, and extract - flawlessly presented.
1997 Screaming Eagle - RP 100 - It doesn't get any better than 1997
Cabernet Sauvignon, a perfect wine. Representing the essence
of cassis liqueur intermixed with blackberries, minerals,
licorice, and toast, this full-bodied, multi-dimensional
classic is fabulous, with extraordinary purity, symmetry, and
a finish that lasts for nearly a minute. It has the overall
equilibrium to evolve for nearly two decades, but it will be
hard to resist upon release.
1998 Screaming Eagle - RP 94 - The 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon, which
was bottled in late June, has turned out even better that I
thought last year. It boasts a saturated ruby/purple color in
addition to an expressive bouquet of cassis, minerals, and
smoke. This multi-textured, round wine exhibits sweet,
well-integrated tannin, a great mid-palate and finish, as well
as spectacular purity and palate presence. Consume it now and
over the next 15-20 years.
There are 500 cases of this wine. As most readers know, this
wine has become the ultimate collector's Cabernet Sauvignon,
routinely fetching $800 to as much as $2000 a bottle at wine
auctions. Of course, this makes no sense to me or Screaming
Eagle's owner, the amiable Jean Phillips, who sells the wine
for $125 a bottle. Unquestionably an exquisite wine, it offers
remarkably rich creme de cassis aromas and flavors in an
unmanipulated, compelling fashion. The winemaking is assisted
by well-known consultant Heidi Barrett. From the red,
iron-rich soils of the Oakville District, the wine is aged in
65% new French oak for 18-20 months.
1999 Screaming Eagle - RP 97 - The bottled 1999 (a blend of 88%
Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc) is as
profound as I predicted a year and a half ago. It boasts an
opaque purple color along with a gorgeously pure nose of creme
de cassis, charcoal, and floral characteristics. The wine is
opulent, dense, and rich, with exceptional purity, a viscous
texture, and impressive underlying tannin that frames its
large but elegant personality. Not surprisingly, this is a
candidate for the wine of the vintage.