x
  • Country ranking ?

    69
  • Producer ranking ?

    13
  • Decanting time

    3h
  • When to drink

    now to 2040
  • Food Pairing

    Game

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Bob Levy, winemaker at Harlan Estate:  “2008 was a very unusual vintage; it was a vintage of extremes, with the end result being that the “average” of the extremes worked out to be close to ‘normal’. We had temperatures well below average all spring. In fact, we had frost very late in the year in some locations. The summer also remained very cold, except for the days with extremely high temperatures. We had some concerns about full maturity in the grapes as the summer was nearing its end. However, we did enjoy a long period of ripening throughout September and into October without rain, so ultimately we had a harvest with very good ripeness and very soft, supple and full bodied tannins. There really are no growing conditions that I have experienced that are the same as 2008. During the beginning of the growing season we were concerned that we were going to have a repeat of 1998, however it turned out quite different. While the growing season was different to 1999, the character and texture of the wines are similar–the wines have good fruit ripeness, they are powerful and show a good concentration, and their tannic structure is rich and very supple. This wine has a much greater potential for long term ageing than the 1998 vintage.”

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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

2008
Lower-than-average rainfall in the winter followed by a dry spring.
Budbreak on April 1,followed by a cold spell.(Our steep hillside sites were spared the spring frost damage that many others in the valley experienced)

A moderate summer, followed by a cool September
with just 7 days over 90°. Harvest began on September 2 and finished on September 29. Average yield: 1.5 tons per acre.

tasting notes

The individual lots of the 2008 vintage are consistently impressive and opulent. Currently aging in new French oak barrels in the second-year cellar, they will undoubtedly provide a wealth of very high-quality components for blending trials next spring.

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

18 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Deep and Ruby red

ending

Long, Gentle and Pure

flavors

Licorice, Vanilla, Cherry, Toasty and Floral

nose

Complex, Closed and Youthful

taste

Warming, Concentrated, Youthful, Full-bodied, Focused, Rich, Ripe and Sweet tannins

Written Notes

 I am speechless. I love the pure aromas of currants, blackberries, minerals and mint -- eucalyptus too. Full body yet so refined and beautiful. Subtle complexity. Great length. Give it two or three years to come together, but hard to hold back.

  • 98p

Full ruby-red. Pure, mineral-driven aromas of plum, licorice and flowers. Creamy and plush yet at the same time vibrant and penetrating; a real essence of floral, minerally cabernet in the mouth but a baby today. Most impressive on the subtle, mounting finish, which features noble tannins and outstanding persistence. This will be splendid, but give it eight years of bottle aging.

  • 95p

Espresso, mocha, dark red berries, rose petals and spices are some of the many notes that emerge from the 2008 Harlan Estate. The wine fleshes out beautifully in the glass as it shows off its class and true pedigree. This is a decidedly ripe, forward vintage, but in exchange the wine will drink well right out of the gate.

  • 96p

Rich, energetic and brimming with finesse and class. A wine for very long ageing, requiring a good 10 -15 years to reveal the breadth of its aromatic complexity. Very sophisticated and long wine.

  • 97p

Lower-than-average rainfall in the winter followed by a dry spring. Budbreak on April 1, followed by a cold spell. (Our steep hillside sites were spared the spring frost damage that many others in the valley experienced.) A moderate summer, followed by a cool September with just 7 days over 90°. Harvest began on September 2 and finished on September 29. Average yield: 1.5 tons per acre.

tasting notes

The individual lots of the 2008 vintage are consistently impressive and opulent. Currently aging in new French oak barrels in the second-year cellar, they will undoubtedly provide a wealth of very high-quality components for blending trials next spring.

This is yet another great expression of the site, a true evidence of the great terroir of the hillside vineyards of Harlan Estate. Color is deep, but not dark or opaque, which indicates a smart and perfect extraction from the skins. The nose is rather elegant than concentrated, still intense with a absolutely pure dark berry fruit, cassis and blueberries are noted, ripe but not sweetish. The oak is perfectly well integrated and actually not detected on the nose, a part from a slight nuance of cedar tree, and there is also a fine and already today complex touch of graphite, which normally comes with some age (in this case it’s there because the fruit is so elegant), and with that typical note of walnuts I find so appealing. The freshness and elegance are also there on the palate, medium bodied and silky with very fine tannins, good acidity and great length, and overall it’s more classic and complex than powerful. It’s delicious to drink already today, especially if served the way I had it, decanted a good hour ahead and then served in a big Bordeaux Riedel glass. With that said, the greater complexity will not be there for a few more years, and I rather wait for that. The 2008 vintage has the potential to be a new classic from Harlan Estate, and a vintage that would suit the classic and French palate more than the typical American. “For us, the 2008 Harlan Estate is a charming wine, it’s all about freshness”, Don Weaver adds.
  • 97p
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Information

Origin

Oakville, Napa Valley

Vintage Quality

Excellent

Value For Money

Satisfactory

Investment potential

Good

Fake factory

None

Glass time

2h

Inside Information

Espresso, mocha, dark red berries, rose petals and spices are some of the many notes that emerge from the 2008 Harlan Estate. The wine fleshes out beautifully in the glass as it shows off its class and true pedigree. This is a decidedly ripe, forward vintage, but in exchange the wine will drink well right out of the gate. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2028. 

Vintages 2008 and 2009 are totally different in character at Harlan Estate. In 2008 the two wines are also quite far apart stylistically, while in 2009 the wines are much more closely linked. The 2010s I tasted from barrel were all raciness and pure excitement. Readers may want to take a look at my video interview on www.erobertparker.com with Bill Harlan in which Harlan discusses Promontory, his newest project.

 

Wine Advocate #198
Dec 2011
Antonio Galloni 96 Drink: 2016 - 2028 $615-$1500 (150)

 

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Bob Levy, winemaker at Harlan Estate:  “2008 was a very unusual vintage; it was a vintage more ...

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