Screaming Eagle ’97 Reaches Almost $4,000 a Bottle at Acker Sale

A single bottle of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon from the California grower’s 1997 vintage, its most expensive since 1992, sold for $3,936 at a New York sale this month as demand for rare wines pushed prices higher.

The lot was sold through Acker Merrall & Condit on Oct. 5. A bottle of the same vintage cost $3,690 at an Acker sale in June, $3,485 in both April and September and $3,198 in February, according to the auction house’s online data.

The focus of investors and collectors has switched away from Bordeaux lately, buoying demand for older vintages and rare wines from regions including Burgundy, the Rhone and California. Prices of top Bordeaux wines on London’s Liv-ex declined during the past seven months following a muted investor response to the 2012 vintage and reduced Chinese demand reflecting a crackdown on spending by officials.

“Screaming Eagle has become one of the iconic wines,” Acker Chief Executive Officer John Kapon said in a telephone interview. He said auctions are reflecting an “active healthy market with a lot of strong prices.”

The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50 Index, a benchmark for top Bordeaux wines, has fallen 6 percent since mid-March after gains of 8 percent in the first 10 weeks of this year, leaving it up less than 2 percent since the end of 2012.

Hamptons Sale

The vineyard producing Screaming Eagle is in Napa’s Oakville district and prices reflect both high scores from critics and small production levels, according to data on the website of the Antique Wine Company, a London-based broker, which describes it as “one of Napa Valley’s most famous ‘cult wines.’”

The estate’s first vintage dates back to 1992, and its wines are sold by mailing list only, limited to three bottles per client, and to selected restaurants, according to Antique Wine Company. There is a waiting list to join the allocation pool for the wines, according to Screaming Eagle’s website.

The lots of Screaming Eagle 1997 sold through Acker in recent months included three bottles which sold for $11,070 at an auction in Bridgehampton, New York in June, two separate three-bottle lots which sold in New York in April and September for $10,455 and a single bottle which sold in New York in February for $3,198, according to Acker’s online archives.

At the Acker auction in New York earlier this month an eight-bottle collection of Screaming Eagle spanning the years 1996, 1998 and every vintage between 2001 and 2006 sold for $14,145 while three bottles of the 2007 wine sold for $7,995, according to Acker data.

The 1997 Screaming Eagle is the estate’s most expensive wine after the inaugural 1992 vintage, while the 2007 is the highest priced of the past 10 years, according to merchant data tracked by the London-based Liv-ex market.

U.S. wine critic Robert Parker assigned a perfect 100-point score to Screaming Eagle wines from both the 1997 and 2007 vintages, according to data on the website.

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