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.
A normal budbreak and average winter rainfall set the stage for a somewhat early harvest,but those plans were modified by cooler than-normal summer temperatures.
Some days in June and September broke 100°, but most of the growing season hovered below 80° highs (and those highs didn’t hold for very many hours throughout the day).
Consequently, harvest was a long, drawn-out affair,beginning September 11 with the youngest merlot vines and continuing in fits and starts through October 24.
Average yield: 2 tons per acre.
Color is medium-dark red. Aromatically there are pronounced notes of roasted coffee, black
currants, cedar, tobacco and ripe fruit.
An almost confectionery quality comes through, as well, and shows the beginning signs of bottle bouquet with the associated complex, ripe-fruit aromatics.
The wine shows real elegance on the palate, a focused purity of fruit, silky textured mid-palate, and soft, layered tannins. The distinctive, wild finish is supple and persistent.
A very enticing wine with balance and a high pleasure factor. A good candidate for current
and near-term drinking, it seems age-worthy for another 7-10 years.