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Robert Parker's Wine Advocate 100 points
The deep garnet-purple colored 2016 Harlan Estate comes charging out of the glass, brandishing bold, opulent blackberry pie, warm cassis and blueberry preserves notes with hints of cigar box, Indian spices, crushed rocks and forest floor plus fragrant accents of lavender and black tea. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is built like a brick house, with a solid line of super ripe, grainy tannins and oodles of freshness supporting the layer upon layer of savory and earth-inspired notions, finishing on a lingering mineral note. Impressively structured, incredibly nuanced and possessing all this latent tension, this brazen beauty is set to live for a good 60 years and possibly more!
Jeb Dunnuck 100 points
The quality of the 2016 Proprietary Red Wine shouldn’t surprise anyone. This estate rarely misses a beat, and in a great vintage like 2016, they’ve made a perfect wine. Sporting a deep purple hue as well as extraordinary notes of crème de cassis, blackcurrants, herbes de Provence, tobacco, graphite, and a who knows what else, this beauty hits the palate with a deep, powerful, full-bodied style that has enough structure to warrant a decade of cellaring. The purity is off the charts, it builds incrementally on the palate, and has a finish that won’t quit. Reminding me a little of the 2013, yet with a touch more elegance, do your best to hide bottles for at least 5-7 years and it’s going to keep for 30-40 years or more.
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.