2016 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon

Year: 2016
Appellation: Napa Valley
Country: USA-California
Wine Advocate: 98-100
Vinous Media: 100
Jeb Dunnuck: 98
Red Wine
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"A barrel sample, the 2016 Screaming Eagle is deep garnet-purple colored with bags of poise coming from a rather flamboyant vintage, showing beautiful perfume with notes of lilacs, rose hip tea, unsmoked cigars and spice cake with a core of warm redcurrants and Black Forest cake plus a touch of iron ore. The palate is medium to full-bodied, very tightly wound and with wonderful energy, structured with firm, very fine-grained tannins and fantastic freshness, finishing very long and earthy.

These 2016s from Screaming Eagle were due to be bottled the day after I visited, so winemaker Nick Gislason and I tasted them the day before bottling to avoid that first couple of months of "bottle shock" and get a clearer indication of the quality level/styles. Although I've kept to the tradition of producing a score range for the wines because they were not not in bottle, given that these were finished wines but for a day, readers can assume that the final bottled score is likely to be at the upper most end of the ranges I've given. The 2016 Screaming Eagle is to be released in the spring of 2019, and The Flight will be released in the fall of 2019.

“As for 2017," commented Nick Gislason, "the Merlot that came in at the beginning of harvest before the fires struck was very nice, along with the first couple of small Cabernet blocks. However, the vast majority of our fruit was still on the vines maturing when the fires came, and thus, was lost to us. When the smoke finally cleared, we cut and discarded all of it. Any wine for a 2017 Screaming Eagle or Flight would be made exclusively from our tiny pre-fire harvest, is likely to be miniscule, and may not be released at all if it does not meet our quality standards. As a harvest cut-short, we have very few blending components to work with, and this may limit our ability to put together blends of sufficient quality." (WA)

"The 2016 Screaming Eagle is a positively stunning wine. An intense bouquet gives way to a wine of explosive energy and huge textural depth. Graphite, crushed rocks, menthol, sage and dark spice open up gradually in this reticent, brooding Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2016 is a towering, statuesque wine of the very highest level. That is the good news. The slightly less good news is that it will need a number of years in bottle to be at its very best. I wouldn't dream of touching a bottle anytime soon. The 2016 literally does scream, with tons of varietal Cabernet aromatics, flavors and structural drive. In a word: magnificent!"(VM)

"A primordial baby of a wine, the 2016 Screaming Eagle includes slightly more Cabernet Sauvignon than the 2015 and is 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, and 8% Cabernet Franc. About as elegant and classy as it gets, this brilliant wine offers loads of blueberries, crème de cassis, crushed violets, spice, and a distinct minerality that emerges with time in the glass. Perfectly balanced, incredibly elegant, with great intensity and length, it will most likely merit a triple-digit score in 4-5 years and it will keep for 3-4 decades. While it's easy to think all cult California Cabs are rich, monster wines, the reality is far from it, and this estate continues to produce wines in a balanced, elegant, classic, iconic style that is unquestionably up with the greatest wines on earth." (JD)