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"Harlan Estate might be the single most profound red wine made not just in California, but in the world."

—Robert M. Parker, Jr.

"Without question, this is a California 'grand cru.' It's hard to imagine another California wine of any stripe that has provided so many fireworks over the past two decades."

—Stephen Tanzer

"After various tastings of Harlan wines and with all the scores given, we have to conclude that this wine can be set apart from the rest as the first of the first growths."

—Pekka Nuikki - Napa Valley Classification – First Growth

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The Vision : To produce a California "First Growth" from the hills of Oakville.

Harlan Estate For nearly three decades, Harlan Estate has been committed to creating California "First Growth" wine estate.

Set on the western hills of Oakville, rising above the fabled Napa Valley bench lands, the estate is over 97 hectares of natural splendor; oak-studded knolls and valleys, roughly fifteen percent of which are under vine, planted with the classic varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. But more than that, it is a family homestead, built for generations.

In 1984 Bill Harlan, who had a successful career as a real estate developer and Napa Valley resort owner, set his mind on producing the greatest wine in California, if not the world. He had become interested in starting his own winery after traveling through Burgundy and Bordeaux in the 1980's. He bought 97 hectares in Oakville, planted 16 with Bordeaux varietals, and brought in famous winemaker Bob Levy, as well as consultant Michel Rolland. Harlan produced three vintages before he considered one worthy of sale.

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Since that 1990 release, four vintages of Harlan Estate Proprietary Red have earned perfect ratings of 100.

Proprietary Red is complex, full-bodied and has the ability to age for decades. Meticulous hand sorting methods done grape-by-grape make the wine one of the most labor intensive products of the wine world. It is both graceful and elegant, ranking Harlan Estate undoubtedly as one of the premier estates in the Napa Valley. Harlan Estate produces also another blend with Bordeaux varietals, The Maiden. The winery’s production is limited to less than 2,000 cases a year. Philosophy in winemaking Bill Harlan has always had one goal in winemaking and that is to create the first growth wine in Napa that will be recognised worldwide.

To achieve this Harlan understood decades ago that he needed land with the potential to deliver the complex and unique characters to the wine. After his team’s ten years of research of Bordeaux and Burgundy versus valuable land and history of Napa Valley, Harlan believed he had found his piece of land. Since grafting the first wines in 1987, the Harlan Estate team has been devoted to transferring the sense of place into the wine from their site. The best clones of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot are grafted in the most suitable rootstocks. The vineyard is nurtured with a huge amount of care throughout the growing season in order to gain the purest fruit 

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The harvesting is carried out by an experienced vineyard crew who run the harvest in several pickings, cluster by cluster.

This is often repeated 3 or 4 times, after which the fruit is still selected grape by grape, once in the winery. This is done to avoid unripe grapes, overripe grapes or anything other than grape material, such as pieces of leaves or stems, getting into the fermentation tank. Every picking lot is always processed separately and is vinified in small batches in stainless steel and wooden fermentors. The ageing is completed in French barriques for 26-27 months. No fining or filtration is done. The vinification process is interfered with as little as possible in order to obtain the terroir characters. The key to intense fruit relies on low yields.

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  • William Harlan

    If we can enrich people's lives, and just maybe inspire them to do something beyond what they might otherwise have done, that brings us great satisfaction. Our purpose is to help our patrons to have an even more enjoyable and healthy life.
  • Bob Levy

    Director of Winemaking
    Winemakers believe that the land speaks to them of possibilities. A winemaker's goal is to express those possibilities, to capture the best of what the land has to offer.


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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users.    or    to see wine moments from your world.

 Bartholomew Broadbent / Wine Writer, Wine Importer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Harlan Estate . In a tasting of  14 wines 

Our host in Mississippi, Norm Rush, opens a lot of wine from his cellar. It is one of the reasons that 30+ winemakers keep returning every year!

4m 14d ago

 Achim Becker / Wineterminator.com, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Harlan Estate . In a tasting of  27 wines 

A Taste of Greatness -tasting with perfect wines like Martha's Vineyards 1974, Harlan 1994, Sassicaia 1985, Pingus 1995, Yquem 1899 etc.

4m 27d ago

 Jeannie Cho Lee MW, Pro (China)  tasted  9 wines  from  Harlan Estate . In a tasting of  9 wines 

Harlan Estate 2013 /Dark brooding blackberry, forest fruit and tobacco flavors - there is more density here than in the 2012. This is a powerful, dense, intense Harlan that will take time to unfold but will eventually offer much more than the 2012 and probably keep longer in the cellar. Firm, chewy tannins. This vintage had a lot of wind leaving small berries with thick skins. 98 points

5m 24d ago

 Juha Lihtonen, Sommelier (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Harlan Estate . In a tasting of  10 wines 

Putting in mouth anything that is 290 years old, sounds suspicious. Enjoying it so much that you wish to have plenty more of it souns insane. I truly enjoyed that "sanity" with great friends, when we sahred the world's oldest known wine available – 1727 Apostelwein. What an insane night it was with so many great wines – Romanee-Conti 1923, Vega-Sicilia Unico Reserva Especial 1973/1975/1976, Petrus 1982, Ch. Margaux 1982, Harlan 1993, Grange 1998, and Ch Climens 1943 bottled for Nazis. Wow!!

6m 9h ago

 Mario Sculatti / Sleeping Lady Vineyard, Wine Maker (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Harlan Estate . In a tasting of  14 wines 

Napa Valley 2011 Vintage tasting with some superb Gargiulos.

6m 22d ago

 Doug Hill / Wine Importer, Pro (Canada)  tasted  2 wines  from  Harlan Estate . In a tasting of  22 wines 

Tasting Napa vintages 2010 and 2011 - both great to drink already.

8m 4d ago

 Bob Levy / Harlan Estate, Wine Maker (United States)  tasted  6 wines  from  Harlan Estate . In a tasting of  6 wines 

Harlan Estate 2009 / The third year in a row with below-average rainfall, 2009 will go down as being a relatively even growing season, with very few heat surges during the summer months. September provided ideal ripening conditions with 12 days in the 90°s. Harvest began September 2. Nearly all lots were “in the barn” prior to a looming rainstorm (6 inches) that arrived on October 12. We gathered the final few blocks on October 18.

tasting notes

At this writing, the 2009 vintage is still in various stages of production, with some tanks still being pressed off, others having been barreled down and undergoing malolactic. Overall, a superlative vintage.

8m 24d ago

 Bob Levy / Harlan Estate, Wine Maker (United States)  tasted  5 wines  from  Harlan Estate . In a tasting of  5 wines 

“Harlan Estate 2001
Average winter rainfall tapered off through March and April. A warm May and June
accelerated the growing season. With the exception of an oddly cool July, temperatures
throughout the summer maintained that momentum. Picking began on September 5, then
temperatures dipped into the upper 70°s for the next two and a half weeks and slowed ripening.
Harvest resumed and finished by October 4, thanks to a little “Indian Summer” heat boost.
Yields were quite low: 1.5 tons per acre on average, even lower for the merlot blocks.
tasting notes
Deep, ruby red. Well-focused, signature aromas of underbrush and forest floor abound in this
wine. Also notes of tea, tobacco, mocha, leather, licorice, cedar, black currant, and violets. It is
a wine of considerable depth, complexity, and staying power. A rich and full entry follows
with equal measures of power and elegance. Ripe, supple tannins are present in the finish and
contribute to its extended staying power, lift, and length.
A wine of purity, definition, and harmony that combines a more elegant, structured style,
similar to the 1994 with the ripe, viscous qualities of the 1997. The wine is classic Harlan
Estate, with a very long life ahead of it, though much of its potential is still in hiding. Lay this
one down for 5+ years and then drink for 30+ (50?) years.

11m 1d ago

 Bob Levy / Harlan Estate, Wine Maker (United States)  tasted  11 wines  from  Harlan Estate . In a tasting of  11 wines 

“Harlan Estate 1994 / Color very dark, nearly opaque. Remarkable viscosity. Closed at first, then opening to a slightly
minty, very fresh and bright character containing earth, mineral, and distinctive forest floor
aromas. Very dense flavors with an abundance of black currant, minerals, smoked herbs, and
blackberry, followed by cedar, coffee and vanilla. Higher acidity and a lower pH profile play a
key role in creating a sense of balance and energy.
1994 rightfully ranks as one of California’s greatest modern-day vintages and the 1994 Harlan Estate is clearly one of our best. Very classic, with lots of detail and energy. Hold for a few more years, then savor for 25-30 years so as not to miss the further complication of this
stellar vintage.

11m 16d ago

 Robert Langer, Wine Collector (Germany)  tasted  5 wines  from  Harlan Estate . In a tasting of  28 wines 

“Napa Tasting with 5 vintages (1994-1998) Bryant, Abreu, Colgin, Maya and Harlan.”

1y 3m ago

 Li Yong Liú, Wine Dealer (China)  tasted  2 wines  from  Harlan Estate . In a tasting of  29 wines 

“Harlan Estate 1997 -perfect 100 points: Good looking normal size bottle in perfect condition with by the neck level. Colour is ruby red and deep. On the nose it is intense, open, fresh, refined, complex and charming. The taste is harmonious, focused, ripe, vivid, with silky tannins, full-bodied, with perfectly balanced, complex, good texture and concentrated structure. On the palate it is layered and has blackberry, honey, leather, licorice, meaty, mineral, herbs, earthy, dried-fruit, toasty, truffles and tobacco flavours. The finish is endless, lingering and flavorful. This wine is transparent, intelligent and masterpiece. I paid around 3k$ a bottle. Perfectly stored bottles are still very worthy and will last well for another 10-15 years and decant at least 2h before tasting. Good value for money.”

1y 3m ago

 Michel Jamais, Wine Writer (Sweden)  tasted  15 wines  from  Harlan Estate . In a tasting of  15 wines 

“Since the first time I tasted Harlan Estate 1994 a decade ago, I have in all tastings – blind or open – given it a perfect 100 point score. This was also the case the two times I tasted it during the research for this report. There’s just one difference – it now shows more of the classic and Bordeaux like greatness than some years ago. It is of course more intense, richer and deeper, and to be honest, also slightly more youthful than great Bordeaux wines of the same age.
“For us as growers, everything during the growing season was pretty much perfect”, Don Weaver said to me when we talked about the outstanding quality of this wine.
Even though the wine now has turned 16 years old, one will still find some of its primary fruit qualities, and today I would describe its texture as velvet like. There’s still enough acidity, tannins and tickeling mineral notes to make the wine taste relatively young, and if not for the slightly matured notes in the fruit, I would never have guessed the age of the wine. I normally describe this stage of maturity like the combination of a wise old man, and the curiosity and energy of a young boy. This is for sure a grand vin, and I guess that a wine like this was what Bill Harlan had in mind when he started to develop Harlan Estate. To me, this wine is at its peak, it’s absolutely perfect to drink, but I do belive it will keep well for some more years.”

1y 5m ago

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