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Scarecrow has replaced Screaming Eagle at the summit of Napa Valley cult wine.

A Japanese importer paid $125,000 for five cases of 2009 Scarecrow cabernet sauvignon at Premiere Napa Valley Saturday afternoon, setting a record for a single auction lot and helping boost the midwinter trade auction to record proceeds approaching $2.4 million.

Made by respected winemaker Celia Welch, the five-case cabernet lot was won in spirited bidding by Ichizo Nakagawa, owner of Tokyo-based Nakagawa Wine Company. Noting he intended to take home the Scarecrow wine “no matter what,” Nakagawa received a standing ovation from a crowd of retailers, restaurateurs, wholesalers and vintners attending the trade auction at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena as auctioneer Fritz Hatton brought the gavel down to end bidding. Two years ago, a similar Scarecrow lot cost him $80,000.

A decade ago, Screaming Eagle cabernets were garnering headlines at auctions conducted by Napa Valley Vintners and others. While the wines have not lost their luster, they don’t command the high prices they once did. At the 2000 Napa Valley Wine Auction, a retired Silicon Valley executive paid $500,000 for just one 6-liter bottle of that first vintage of Screaming Eagle.

Saturday’s auction featured 200 wines — blended just for this event by members of Napa Valley Vintners, the local trade association that uses revenues to promote both image and wines of the Napa Valley around the world. It was preceded by a tasting of all of the wines up for bid Saturday afternoon.

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