Spotlight on… SCREAMING EAGLE, CAB SAUVIGNON, 2012

08-Mar-2017


Spotlight on… SCREAMING EAGLE, CAB SAUVIGNON, 2012

THE APPELLATION AND CLASSIFICATION

Napa Valley AVA, California

THE COMPOSITION

Cabernet Sauvignon 79%, Merlot 17%, Cabernet Franc 4%,

THE CRITICS’ VIEWS

100/100, The Wine Advocate

100/100, James Suckling

97/20, Wine Spectator

THE RELEASE PRICE

This is a tricky one. There are two means of sale and purchase, offering somewhat different pricing:

Firstly, the property’s mailing list: as difficult as it is to do so, those who find their way on to the list were offered Screaming Eagle 2012 at USD 850 per bottle, equivalent to circa GBP 1640 per case of 3. Non-trade mailing list clients are generally told not to sell the wine on, at the risk of losing their mailing list place. However, some certainly slip through the net, driven by the prospect of a fast profit.

Secondly, US wine merchants: these merchants were likely sold the 2012 at the same USD 850 per bottle, however were dictated an initial RRP of USD 1,500 per bottle, or circa GBP 2,894 per 3 (which certainly makes one understand the reasoning behind some private buyers choosing to sell their stock!)

So, for the sake of argument, let’s say GBP 2,894 per case of 3.

THE CURRENT MARKET PRICE

Screaming Eagle 2012 is currently valued at GBP 6,200 per dozen, as of 27th February, 2017. Therefore, the wine has appreciated +114.24% since merchant release. For those lucky enough to be on the mailing list, their wine is now valued an even more impressive +278% higher.

COMPARABLE VINTAGES & OUTLOOK

Screaming Eagle 1997, 2007 and 2010 have all achieved the same 100-points from the Wine Advocate. With the 2010 currently valued (Liv-ex) at GBP 6,900 per 3, near-term appreciation of +11.29% is likely for the 2012 vintage to be on par. The 2007 & 1997 vintages have a mean value of GBP 9,565 per 3, suggesting a potential long to medium term uplift of +54.27%. We believe, however, due to an anticipated peak in the Screaming Eagle market, that the 2012 will realistically rise in line with the 2010 and no further over the next 5 years. From this point, onwards, we may be proven wrong. The considerably-lower-value 2014 and, predominantly, 2013 vintages currently offer the greatest possibility of upside potential.

THE PROPERTY

In 1986, the successful real estate agent, Jean Phillips, purchased 57 hectares of vineyard plots. Phillips initially sold his multi-varietal harvest to various Napa wineries. However, he soon noticed the exceptional quality of a 1 acre parcel of Cabernet Sauvignon vines. Subsequently, he appointed winemaker Heidi Peterson Barrett and sought the expertise of the reputed Robert Mondavi Winery, to help raise commercial potential. The property’s maiden vintage, 1992, followed to much critical acclaim, including a 99-point score from the influential Robert Parker. In 1995, the plethora of varietals were uprooted and replaced with the Bordeaux trio of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Winemaking fell into the hands of Andy Erikson, with David Abreu (Abreu Vineyards), managing the vines. 2006 saw a change of ownership for Screaming Eagle, with Stanley Kroenke and Charles Banks (who subsequently was bought out by Kroenke in 2009) purchasing the property. Grapes had previously continued to be grown to supply nearby wineries. However, the new owners replanted 70% of the vines, to relieve the estate of its contractual obligations, this enabling the property to make use of the entire harvest. Associated costs were subsequently passed over to their buyers, raising the price to become the most expensive Californian – and worldwide – wines, whilst simultaneously raising worldwide awareness of the producer. Nick Gislason (formerly of Harlan Estate) heads the winemaking, with the revered French winemaker, Michel Rolland acting as a consultant.

Today, the property has 60 hectares of land, of which 48 are under vine. 22-23 hectares are used to produce the flagship wine, with yields kept to a minimum to raise potential quality. Only 500-850 cases are produced annually. Vinification and ageing of constituent blending parts take place in oak tanks, barrels and stainless steel. Also included in the land is a small parcel of Sauvignon Blanc vines. This was originally destined as a semi-reasonably-priced drinker for the mailing list, not to be sold on to the trade. However, a small quantity entered the marketplace, resultantly achieving stratospheric prices. The estate also produces a second wine, Screaming Eagle Second Flight.

THE VINTAGE

A perfect vintage throughout much of California, with healthy grapes and large crops. Budburst and flowering occurred without flaw. A warm summer with high sunlight hours followed, with night-time and morning fog tempering the heat. Prior to harvest, a small amount of rain fell, helping the grapes achieve optimum ripeness.