Monday, May 14, 2012

2010 Screaming Eagle Sauvignon Blanc

When I first heard of the white wine from Screaming Eagle, I was quite surprised. Although I know that some parts of Napa Valley can produce world class wines from Sauvignon Blanc (or at least, as good as a wine from Sauvignon Blanc outside Bordeaux can be), I couldn't imagine that Screaming Eagle would ever make one.
   Very if, if any, could ever have thought that. Actually, not even one of the new owners since 2005, Charles Banks, thought about it.

"Well, when we studied the vineyard, we knew we had to replant it in a much better way, we couldn't just continue to make the wine in the same way as Jean Phillips and her winemaker Heidi Peterson-Barrett did, we had the worlds eyes on us", he said to me a few weeks ago.
"And we found a spot in the northwestern corner of our vineyard, that I found to be much better suited for Sauvignon Blanc than Cabernet Sauvignon or Franc, and Merlot actually doesn't perform very well in our vineyard", he added.
   The Sauvignon Blanc grapes were never intended to be a commercial wine, if they ever should make it themselves, and if so, I was to be used for PR tastings and dinners, and as a giveaway.
   But with the 2010 vintage, the now sole owner Stanley Kroenke, decided to sell it on the mailing list. It's now even more rare and sought after than the red Screaming Eagle. And it is of course the talk of the day since very people have tasted it, or even seen a bottle or a picture of a bottle.

2010 Screaming Eagle Sauvignon Blanc / 93 p
This is a 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc from a small lot in the northwestern section of the vineyard, planted in 2006. The grapes are harvested at full phenolic ripeness, but still with a high acidity (and there's no acidification taken place at Screaming Eagle since 2005). The juice is fermented in two small new French oak barrels, to a alcohol level of just above 14 percent.
   The nose is quite intense and open, fresh and floral with nuances of lilies and summer meadow (grass and small flowers) and with that typical California sauvignon touch of passion fruit. A part from a small note of vanilla, the oak is extremely well integrated.
   On the palate it's medium full, very elegant and pure with a lovely acidity to balance the intense but very elegant fruit body. The alcohol is very well balanced, and the aftertaste is long, floral, fresh and very elegant.

I tasted the wine blind with a few friends, and we were all very excited when we realized that it was the white eagle we had in our glasses. And tasted it blind, I have to say it's not at floral as the sauvignon from Araujo and their Eisele Vineyard, or as light and crisp as that of Spottswoode, or as heavy as the Robert Mondavi I-Block Fumé Blanc from very old vines in To Kalon Vineyard, and it's not oak spicy as the great sauvignon from Vineyard 29 and the Georgia of Lail Vineyard. It's more elegant and complex that those other very great sauvignons of Napa Valley.
   It's actually one of the best, if not the best, sauvignon I have tasted in California, yet. However, it comes with an extremely high price, $250 plus tax from the winery, or $1500 to 1700 on the second hand market.
Drink it over the next 5-6 years.

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