You may have seen the words such like "Cult of the Cult” or “Next-generation Cult” in wine magazines or on wine shop memos. What is the definition of Cult Wine? The wine specialist websites explain that a Cult Wine is a wine that has been highly rated by influential wine critics and it is usually of an extremely limited production, resulting in the skyrocketed price in the auction market.
In the U.S., especially among Californian wine industry experts, Cult Wine is often defined as “California Ultra Luxury Table Wine” and most of the wines that belong to this category are reds, in particular, Cabernet Sauvignon based. Screaming Eagle and Harlan are the “must-know” Cult Wines coming out of California.
Screaming Eagle (Oakville, Napa)
Undoubtedly the most sought-after collectible wine, Screaming Eagle is known as the king of the Cult. This is Cabernet Sauvignon wine from the top terroir of Oakville, Napa, with a layered complex aroma and silky touch on the palate. The wine has been rated 100 points several times over various vintages by the most powerful wine critic of the world, Robert Parker. Since its first release in 1992, the price in the market has been going up and the current average price in the market per bottle is between $1,500 - $2,000. (In Japanese market, the current average price per bottle is around $3,000). In order to purchase the wine, you need to be on the official Mailing List, however, it is currently one year plus waiting list. Starting 2012, the winery started releasing its second label called “Flight” to its Mailing List members. Further, the winery has its what it considers as sister winery under the brand called “Jonata” which you can purchase a bottle under $100.
Harlan (Oakville, Napa)
The owner William Harlan’s view and the aesthetics of wine took only few years to create a huge group of followers. Since the first release in 1990 till 1997, the estate wine was a classy Bordeaux blend, and starting 1998, William decided to make his estate wine as Cabernet Sauvignon 100%. The one of the most renowned wine journalists and wine consultants Jancis Robinson mentioned the Harlan Estate wine as "one of the ten best wines of the twentieth century”. The wine itself is $245 on release, but the current average price on the auction market has gone up to the price akin to the above Screaming Eagle. The second label is “The Maiden” which is Cabernet Franc based Bordeaux style. In 1997, William established a sub-brand called “Bond” series which is Cabernet Sauvignon base.
Other wineries to note: Bryant Family, Colgin, Dominus, Grace Family, Hundred Acre, Scarecrow, Sine Qua Non