Why did Screaming Eagle Scrap 17's if there is no problem

Ive been called a troll for having the balls to say that 17’s are suspect.

Could someone please explain then why Screaming Eagle whose vineyards are right in the heart of wine country can feel strongly enough to scrap the entire vintage yet nobody else in surrounding area as of yet done the same thing ?

I was not there and dont know the topology so are Se vineyards in a unique location that they were the only one affected ? or are my thoughts actually valid and im not a troll for daring to suggest ?

A friend of mine emailed me recently about the PC situation and how many people were called trolls and haters for doubting John Fox

I don’t know any specifics about Screaming Eagle or other cult Napa Cabernets, but 2017 was a good vintage in northern California before the fires. Most grapes had already been picked including about 85-90% of the Cabernet Sauvignon. Some grapes were almost certainly affected by the smoke. I personally think the high end wineries will be extremely careful to not release tainted wines because their reputation is critical to maintaining their market positions. So, you can choose to pass on the vintage, if you like, but I think you’re much more likely to miss out on good wines than to avoid bad ones. But, it’s your choice.

This is much different from 2008 in the Anderson Valley where the majority of the Pinot Noir grapes were affected (along with other varieties from surrounding areas).


Apparently the wine maker just didn’t like the way things were tasting so he called it off. I’ve heard this pissed off a lot of folks as it has been part of what’s called the whole vintage into question. I know another winery or two has done the same already.

Maybe they hung their fruit too long and it got tainted. ‘17 harvest was 80% done when the fires hit. Not everyone was affected by the smoke or at least not all of their wines.

Edit: Maybe Inshould have read Al’s response first.

i disagree with your assessment of ‘17, fires aside. uneven temperatures and untimely rains being the chief reasons. though I am no fan of LPB, she echoed my same sentiments in her latest napa report. I expect jeb to do the same in his forthcoming review.
again, just my opinion and everyone is entitled to their’s

Nobody is talking about crop insurance. Given the premiums, I can assume most estates and vineyard owners do not elect it. However, this last year was a perfect example of when it actually pays to have it and I can only “assume” SE, the most coveted wine brand in the USA, purchases it. A lot of wasted time and energy can be omitted and focus can be on 2018, a stellar vintage in the making. Plus, I assume the SE constituency will be completely fine with taking a hiatus from a less than ideal vintage at $1150 a bottle. Is it just me or is anyone else’s pocketbook ready for a break this next year? There is a small list of Napa wineries I’ll be supporting, but mostly be saving pennies for 2018 and backfilling a little more.

couldn’t agree more.

I think it’s very important to look at this in a slightly different way. Though the vast majority of grapes were picked before the fires, it is well known that a great deal of premium bordeaux varieties were still hanging at that time.

I’m certain that no winery will want to release wines that they know are smoke tainted. Or even a slight possibility of being so.

I guess time will tell, and as others have pointed out, LPB did allude to this in her piece. We’ll see if the other reviewers have something to say in the near future about it as well.

Regardless, this will not affect every producer, and many producers adored on this board most likely picks before the fires.



Simple question, how do we know what was picked before and which were not ?

The fires had burned 210K acres by 10/14/17, grapes were still on the vine.

I was with a winemaker 10 days ago who still had Cab on the vines in northern Napa due to cooler growing season. I sure hope he got them in before this monster fire.

In 2008 some of the monster fires were not fully contained for months. There were several large ones started throughout the summer.

The lack of detail by SE was well calculated

For me, the fires are less of an issue. It was the weeks long heat spike leading up to harvest, where temps were 100+ degrees and even the nighttime temps didn’t help much with “reconditioning” the grapes and vines.

A thought on why some in the Valley may be pissed at Screagle- by electing to trash the entire vintage, they are calling into question the POSSIBILITY that there is an issue. If everyone goes along, there is a united front. If everyone releases wines and the wines turn out to be less than ideal, then the narrative could be that EVERYONE got it wrong. But by Screagle “breaking ranks”, it has introduced the reality that each and every producer will need to make a decision now- release and roll the dice, or scrap it, sell it off in bulk, and lose $$$.

While there are some estates with (very) deep pockets, there are many others who will be seriously impacted economically if they don’t release and get top dollar for their goods. I can imagine that many estates are only a bad vintage or two from having to sell out to Constellation, Duckhorn, private equity etc. On paper they may look good what with high land prices, etc. But there are also loads of fixed costs (labor, fancy winemaker, marketing) and debt service (equipment, land lease, etc) that need to be paid, year in year out.

When you couple all that with the reality that this economic cycle has been rolling over for months now, and it all adds up to a lot of uncertainty these days…


Correction, 2016 is assumed to release in Spring at $1150, so 2017 would be assumed at $1250 based on pattern:
2015 - $1050
2014 - $950
2013 - $850

Assuming 2017 is a pass, any bets on 2018 at $1250 or skipping to $1350? This is the stuff that keeps me up at night [scratch.gif]

If you don’t know why…please, stop speculating without data. You’re starting to sound like that guy on the corner with the sign that reads “The end is upon us” that is screaming at the top of his lungs.

Cayuse scrapped their entire vintage due to bad corks a year ago…many high end producers make the calls for different reasons. Unless you have the data…please stop speculating. I don’t know or care how the vintages are viewed…but speculation like this is as useful to me as the tabloids that tell me that the Aliens took Elvis home.

Let’s also not lump Premier Cru in with whatever reason Screaming Eagle didn’t make a 2017 vintage. Bringing that up makes zero sense, and doesn’t rationalize trolling. I also don’t think your post is trolling either. It’s basis is certainly interesting, and as noted above, caused some consternation in Napa. I HOPE they are transparent about their reasoning.

FWIW, I have tasted 2017 Tench Vineyard and 2017 Wilde Foote Vixen from Bevan, and there is zero smoke in either. Two vineyards either right next to, or a stone’s throw from Screamer.


Do you know when they picked relative to SE? Not sure location matters as much as when the grapes were picked and whether or not they could be tended to during the fires.

Alan is not playing Chicken Little here, he’s asking a valid question. Some were affected, others were not. Not nearly as bad as 2008 in Anderson Valley. Maybe only a few were adversely affected, which is why it’s even more important to ask questions rather than generalize about the entire vintage.

From Antonio Galloni’s 2017 Napa Valley First impressions article…

“…For some winemakers, the vintage was immediately compromised. “I got to the vineyard early on Monday morning [the first morning of the fires] and started tasting through the fruit. I knew right away it was gone,” Screaming Eagle’s Nic Gislason told me. At Screaming Eagle, only the Merlot-based The Flight will be bottled, while there will be no commercial release of the flagship wine…”

Shocked to see this. A little premature to call this out don’t you think?

B. = Brian

There are so many factors, I’ll never get them all nor will I say it very eloquently but…

Where is the vineyard located? There is a tremendous difference between upvalley & downvalley and then a million gradients within those broad subsets. Calistoga is warm, but there is a cooling overnight breeze from the Santa Rosa Gap. Carneros sits a mid-iron from the North Bay. As important as your daytime highs were, your overnight lows were just as important.

Where is the vineyard located, part II: East side, west side. Valley floor, mountain. Do you get morning sun, afternoon exposure, all day? Another factor in determining what might have happened last year.

Did the site have the ability to water through the heat event? What type of canopy/trellising does the vineyard employ?

Was the fruit picked before the fires? Which way was the smoke/wind blowing in relation to the vineyard if not yet picked? Parts of Howell Mountain had clear skies, air while parts of the valley were awful.

Bottom line: Do you trust from whom you buy?

(I have no idea why SE chose to DQ their fruit. I am confident they made the right choice for them. That has no bearing on anyone, anything else.)

Ian, I wasn’t referencing Premier Cru to this at all…I was actually referencing the guys on the side of the street in the trench coats that scream at you as you drive past about the end of the world.

For me, Michael S. Monie’s post has data behind it…and that’s what I find valuable and think avoids creating a “hype machine” in this forum.