The perfect 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Screaming Eagle is composed of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc. Made in the classic, iconic Screaming Eagle style that the original proprietress, Jean Philipps, first showcased in the early 1990s, before the winery was sold to Stan Kroenke, the inky/purple-colored, seamless 2012 possesses an extraordinary set of aromatics consisting of pure blackcurrant liqueur, licorice, acacia flowers, graphite and a subtle hint of new oak. Full-bodied, opulent and voluptuous, this profound wine is as prodigious as I thought it would be last year when tasted from barrel. It should age effortlessly for 20 or more years.
It would be easy to criticize Screaming Eagle, the tiny boutique producer, with astronomical prices as well as quality. The vineyard, on the valley floor in the eastern Oakville corridor, sells off significant quantities of wine to others. Their production remains 700 to 1,000 cases, along with 500-800 cases of their second wine, Second Flight. There is something magical about this Oakville parcel on the valley floor just under the looming hillsides of such wineries as Phelps, Bacchus and Dalla Valle’s Maya, and across the street from the Rudd Estate, Plumpjack, etc. Different winemaking consultants, from Heidi Barrett, who was in charge when Screaming Eagle soared to prominence in the early nineties, to the present consultant, Michel Rolland, have maintained the remarkable consistency that makes this wine so special. Articulating that is the critic’s challenge, but there is a purity to the crème de cassis fruit that emerges from this vineyard. There is an aromatic intensity and penetration that is truly world-class, and there is incredible balance as well as complexity in these young wines.