The Eagle Has Landed
I am excellent at keeping secrets. For instance, I recently went on a special trip to taste a very special wine with some very special people, of whom I have been asked not to mention, so I won’t. I am able to say that the wine I tried was the infamously, elusive Screaming Eagle. What I can’t say is who served it to me, where I had it or when I tried it.
I can tell you that it was served to me in a dirty glass and that I wasn’t allowed to take a picture of me drinking it. I can also tell you that it was one of the most interesting wine experiences I’ve ever had. The anticipation alone of being invited to taste one of California’s most precious red wines was enough for me to graciously accept my glass without bringing attention to the previous owner’s lip stains on the rim. A little background before I tell you about how the wine tasted…Screaming Eagle is located in Oakville, California, north of the town of Napa in the Napa Valley. Former real estate agent Jean Phillips purchased the 57 acre estate in 1986 and initially sold fruit to various wineries in the area. After hiring wine consultant Richard Peterson, Phillips made his daughter Heidi Peterson-Barrett her winemaker. The winery’s first vintage was in 1992 and due to low production and a high rating from the infamous Robert Parker of 99 points, the wine sold for unusually high prices. This trend never wavered for the winery, with price per bottle reaching enormous heights, even though Barrett has since moved on to her own projects. Phillips has since sold off the property to Stanley Kroenke and Charles Banks and current ownership rests solely with Kroenke. The current wine making team is comprised of an all-star cast of winemaker, Andy Erikson; global oenologist Michel Rolland and viticulturalist David Abreu. They make one wine based on Cabernet Sauvignon. The current 2007 release is modestly priced at $1400 USD bottle.
Want to learn more about Screaming Eagle? Good luck. Their website is a one page directory of how to contact them, though “them” has no name. For future reference, do not just Google “screaming eagle”. Unfortunately, we live in a day and age where generic web searches that involve animals will inevitably result in pornography. I won’t get explicit, all I can say is it’s not how I would spend my Friday night.
The verdict? Unequivocally, undeniably delicious. My notes from the 2005 vintage were scattered, serial killer scrawlings that waxed poetic about its lingering minerality, savoury finish and lifted notes of cranberry, cassis, wood smoke, bramble and intense clove. The first question I was asked after I had returned to the restaurant was, “Was it worth the hype?”
In a word, yes. I know that I cannot afford a bottle without sacrificing some serious life choices, so talking about its “price tag” is irrelevant. Other people can and so its price is driven through its demand. This is remarkably good wine. It was surprisingly less showy than I thought it would be, in spite of its hype. It is structured, powerful and age-worthy to the core. I stand behind this product and its squawk- inducing price tag so much that I gave Phoebe a mild heart attack when I purchased 3 bottles for the restaurant.
And so the question is, as I stare at my shiny Enomatic Wine Preservation Systems, do I dare to go where no Wine Director has gone before? The answer, sweet Vin Room friends, is yes. For one weekend, I am going to crack open one bottle of this red elixir for those who want to try California’s screamingly delicious cult wine. I have been told that no other restaurant in the world has been so bold, so that either makes me really rad or really bad. Regardless, the date has been decided upon. Join us on Thursday December 9 at 5 pm. We will be pouring 2 ounce tasters for $200. I will keep the bottle open until the last dregs are consumed. Glasses will be clean and polished, I promise.
Posted in Wine Chat