With the founding of Harlan Estate in 1984, we embarked upon our mission of creating a “first growth” of California. The estate’s early vineyard development began with just six acres. Today our planting is essentially complete, with nearly forty acres under vine to the classic varietals: cabernet sauvignon (70%), merlot (20%), cabernet franc (8%), and petit verdot (2%). Invariably, the finished wine is predominately cabernet sauvignon, which we blend with varying amounts of the other three varietals as we seek to express faithfully the unique and distinctive character of the site.
Modest quantities of wine were produced in 1987, 1988, and 1989 from grapes that represented the second, third, and fourth leaf of our estate vineyard. In each of those years a small number of barrels were produced in the hope of gaining a prescient glimpse into what the character of the land—never before cultivated—might have to offer. The wines were blended, bottled, and labeled with a special designation. Though charming in their own way, these first wines fell short of our standards and aspirations, so were never released. They continue to serve as humble reminders of where we began the journey.
The winter rainfall was slightly below average and came late, mostly in March.
Budbreak began on April 7, with flowering on May 23. Temperatures through the end of July rarely broke 80°, apart from one short spike of 100°+ in early July. August and September brought continued, even heat, with several days topping 90°. Harvest began on September 23 and finished on October 18.The yields across all blocks averaged 2.1 tons per acre.
Good, deep color. A complex, slightly earthy, sweet mineral nose reminiscent of wild brush and undergrowth,glazed fruit,cedar,toasty vanilla,and ripe black currants.With aeration the aromatics grow significantly more multi-faceted, with distinct notes of celery and green olive.
Although still outsized in the mouth, it shows remarkable balance with plenty of sweet ripe fruit,enhanced by layers of green and black olives. The finish lingers on with smooth and noticeably ripe tannins.The 1991 has been tightly wound and slow to evolve for much of its life,yet this powerful vintage continues to develop slowly and gain in charm.Hold another 5 years, then drink for 15+ years.