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A 1997 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon magnum bottle of wine is available for $12,000 at Jacksonville Inn Wine and Gift Shop. Julia Moore / Mail Tribune photo - Julia Moore

This wine hasn't been sold before its time

A$12,000 magnum of 1997 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon hasn't sold in the two years it's been displayed at the Jacksonville Inn Wine & Gift Shop, but it does draw a lot of interest.

"People ask all the time, 'is it really worth that much?' " said Jacksonville Inn owner Jerry Evans. He doesn't think so but added, "it's become a collector's item, and people like to brag about it."

Owned by a Grants Pass resident who placed the 1.5-liter bottle at the shop, the vintage is considered by some as the epitome of what are called "cult wines." It comes from a small vineyard in Oakville, located in California's Napa Valley.

Current listings on Internet wine sites show prices ranging from $3,500 to $4,250 for .75-liter bottles. There's also a 3-liter bottle signed by the vintner offered for $95,000 on one site. At release the wine was priced at $125 for the smallest bottle.

The scarcity of cult wines and demand among connoisseurs help account for the high prices, according to a 2008 San Francisco Chronicle article. It attributes part of 1997 Screaming Eagle's status to a 2000 review written by critic Robert Parker, called the "ultimate arbiter," who awarded the wine a perfect rating of 100.

"It doesn't get any better," wrote Parker. "This full-bodied, multi-dimensional classic is fabulous, with extraordinary purity, symmetry and a finish that lasts for nearly a minute."

Reviewers noted hints of blackberry, dark chocolate, licorice, hazel nut, currant, black cherry, toasty oak and other flavors.

Parker wrote that anticipated maturity of the wine is from 2000 to 2020. Another review, which gave the wine 95 points, suggests it would be best from 2000 to 2010, so anyone wanting to consume the vintage may want to purchase it soon.

If $12,000 is beyond the wine budget, Jacksonville Inn has a $5,500 bottle available. It's an 1811 Hungarian Tokaji that was reportedly lost for 100 years, said Evans. That bottle contains about 600 milliliters of wine.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboom8929@charter.net.

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