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Scarecrow: The Importance
The wine produced at Scarecrow has been, despite its relative newcomer status on the Napa Cabernet Sauvignon scene, described as both ‘sensational’ by Robert Parker and ‘flat-out stunning’ by Antonio Galloni.
One of the extraordinary features of this vineyard is that it arguably possesses the oldest vines in the whole of Napa Valley. When most growers chose to replant their vines with disease-resistance rootstocks, John Daniels chose to keep the original vines, which was considered an extraordinarily risky decision at the time. However, it is now clear that this risk has paid off from the quality and concentration of the fruit grown at Scarecrow.
The vines at Scarecrow are responsible for setting the record for the most expensive bottle of California Cabernet Sauvignon ever sold. In the 2014 Premiere Napa Valley charity auction, 60 bottles of Scarecrow wine produced from a block of old vines, “Toto’s Opium Dream, Scene III”, sold for $4,333 a bottle.
Scarecrow: The Insight
The first vintage at Scarecrow was released in 2003, and ever since the first vintage, no wine has scored lower than 90 points by Robert Parker. Some of the highest performing vintages are 2003, 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2013.
The characteristics of this wine are described by Parker for the 2013 vintage as “full bodied, displaying notes of forest floor, earth, crème de cassis, blackberry liqueur, licorice and some pen ink. It is dense, full-bodied, prodigiously rich, massive in intensity, yet relatively light on its feet. This great ballerina of a wine has extraordinary ripeness but pulls back from the edge before going over the top.” James Suckling writing about the 2008 vintage, said that the wine reminded him of Léoville Las Cases but with Napa brightness.
A wine with huge power and concentration, it is a testament to the skill of the wine-making that the wine can both age and yet possess enough charm in youth to not required decades of cellaring. In praise of the 2007 vintage, Parker wrote that “its perfect balance suggests it can be drunk at a relatively young age, but it should easily evolve over 30-35 years”.
Dry-farming techniques are used at Scarecrow, which many believe leads to greater flavour intensity in the grapes, with fruit that has been dry-farmed supposed to be smaller, sweeter and more concentrated in taste.
A second wine is also produced at Scarecrow called M.Etain, another homage to The Wizard of Oz, however, the sheer quality of this wine has led Parker to say that it is “hardly a second wine by any means” and the 2013 vintage of this wine received an impressive 95 points, an impressive feat for a wine created to be approached as a second wine.
The barrel ageing used at Scarecrow makes it stand out. The wine is aged in 90% new French Oak for 12 months, at which point the wine is returned to tanks to be blended, and once that is complete, it is once again aged for 10 more months in barrel.
Scarecrow: The Background
The history of this estate dates back to 1943 when legendary film producer J.J. Cohn acquired 79 hectares of land adjacent to the famous Inglenook Winery, and was persuaded in 1945 by his neighbour John Daniel Jr who ran Inglenook persuaded him to plant Cabernet Sauvignon vines on his land in order to sell them to Inglenook. This took off with such phenomenal success that soon Cohn was selling the grapes grown on this estate to legendary producers such as Opus One, Joseph Phelps, Robert Mondavi, and various other wineries. When Cohn died in 1996, the estate was sold as a deal between Francis Ford Coppola and J.J. Cohn’s grandson Bret Lopez, and it was Lopez who selected the name Scarecrow in honour of his grandfather, who had produced The Wizard of Oz. Bret Lopez hired the esteemed winemaker Celia Welch to create the Scarecrow Cabernet Sauvignon and the first vintage of Scarecrow Cabernet Sauvignon was released in 2003.
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