• Country ranking ?

  • Producer ranking ?

  • Decanting time

  • When to drink

    now to 2030
  • Food Pairing

    Lamb Stew with Spring Vegetables

The Tb points given to this wine are the world’s most valid and most up-to-date evaluation of the quality of the wine. Tastingbook points are formed by the Tastingbook algorithm which takes into account the wine ratings of the world's 50 best-known professional wine critics, wine ratings by thousands of tastingbook’s professionals and users, the generally recognised vintage quality and reputation of the vineyard and winery. Wine needs at least five professional ratings to get the Tb score. Tastingbook.com is the world's largest wine information service which is an unbiased, non-commercial and free for everyone.

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The Story

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.

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Wine Information

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.

tasting notes
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.

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

13 tasting notes

Tasting note


Full and Brick red


Long, Lingering and Gentle


Meaty, Blackcurrant, Smoky, Tobacco, Blackberry and Cedar


Intense and Complex




Warming, Complex, Well-Integrated, Multi-dimensional, Full-bodied, Elegant, Rich, Ripe and Silky tannins

Written Notes

Decanted for one hour. The 1991 Harlan is a fabulous wine that more than lives up to the hype, if not exactly to its ludicrous price tag. The nose had the most complexity and meticulousness of all the wines tasted that evening. What a great mix of flavours: red cherries, damp earth, smoked meat, blueberries, dark plums and currants, minerals, sweet tobacco and a sophisticated dose of toasty oak. The texture was incredibly rich and meaty for a ’91, more so than one normally tastes in a wine from that vintage. Very massive and intense wine with elegant and super ripe finish. Delicious now.
  • 98p

Stunning in every sense of the word, the color remains deep and youthful. Earthy, yet filled with ripe blackberries, licorice and chocolate, the wine is powerful and elegant, a tough combination to find. The silky, rich finish leaves you after 50 seconds of fruit filled intensity. At close to 25 years of age, this can easily go another 15 to 5 more years.

  • 98p

Healthy dark red. Sexy aromas of plum, raspberry and mocha. A tad tart but nicely concentrated and distinctly claret-like, with its red fruit flavors joined by a strong herbal element. Still, this wine – or at least this bottle – shows modest sweetness and thickness and is a bit past its peak and lacks expansiveness. Juicy and alive but the tannins are a bit dry and the finish a touch sour. Incidentally, 1991 was just the second commercial vintage for Harlan Estate; it was released at the same time as the 1990. (1,000 cases were made, vs. just 300 in 1990)

  • 90p
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.

Medium deep, ruby with brick red rim. Complex and developed – cedary, leathery, earthy, meaty and smoky tones with tobacco, black fruits, spices, licorice. Full-bodied, delicate fruitiness, cassis, blackberries, violets, toasty, tobacco, touch of herbaceousness. Long, lingering, savory, well-integrated alcohol. Classic claret-like wine. – JL 97p (8/2011)

  • 97p
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Oakville, Napa Valley

Vintage Quality


Value For Money

Very good

Investment potential


Fake factory


Glass time


Drinking temperature


Inside Information

98 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

  This is a profoundly great wine. It came across in a blind tasting as one of the most remarkable wines there, with most tasters mistaking it for a first-growth Medoc. The wine revealed an opaque purple color, a fabulously complex, sweet nose of minerals, fruitcake, cedar, toasty new oak, and pure blackcurrant fruit. Although huge in the mouth, the wine is remarkably well-balanced, with its high tannin level well-concealed by copious quantities of sweet ripe fruit, as well as huge amounts of glycerin and extract. I have consistently rated the 1991 Harlan Estate in the mid to upper nineties, but in this blind tasting with so many high quality wines, it was a big-time winner. Approachable now, this wine should be at its best by the turn of the century and last for 2-3 decades.   (2/ 1997)

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