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    30
  • Producer ranking ?

    8
  • Decanting time

    -
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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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Latest Pro-tasting notes

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Written Notes

Classy earth, oak and bay-leaf character on the nose, together with dark fruit, such as currants and blackberries. Forest flowers, too. Full-to medium-bodied, linear and tight with coolness and freshness. Mint and spearmint to the dark fruit. Lasts a long time. Such balance and intensity. Tight now, but great energy and length this year. Incredibly sophisticated and seductive. A joy to taste now, but try in 2025.

  • 100p

With its showy nose, the wine is already displaying black cherries, blackberry, plums, flowers, baking spice, licorice, chocolate, caramel and bay leaf. Full-bodied, lush, deep, concentrated and pure, the wine seamlessly coats your palate. Even though this is incredibly weighty, it is also remarkably light on its feel. The multi-layered finish builds and expands for over 60 seconds. This is a contender for the finest vintage of Harlan Estate ever produced. Winemaker Cory Empting calls it a perfect vintage! Considering all the incredible wines that have been made here, that is really saying something.

  • 100p

The 2018 Harlan Estate was tasted as a barrel sample, to be bottled in March. Deep garnet-purple in color, it needs a fair bit of swirling to reveal a wonderfully fragrant perfume of blueberry pie, chocolate-covered cherries, mulberries and black currant pastilles with hints of cumin seed, rose oil and black olives. Medium to full-bodied, the taut, grainy-textured palate delivers remarkable energy with compelling tension and a long, graceful, earth-laced finish.

"2018 had a certain sense of ease to it," Bill Harlan said as we tasted the barrel sample of the next iteration of this iconic label. "The pace was wonderful." "Mother nature was allowing us an extended runway," winemaker Cory Empting agreed. "We just started picking and couldn’t stop." As a reminder, Harlan Estate is bottled later than most other Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons. While a lot of the Napa 2018s were bottled in and around July 2020, Harlan will not be bottled until late February or early March 2021. This 2018 is looking incredibly youthful and indeed reticent, as are many 2018s, but it bears all the grace and sophistication of a wine nearing completion, promising to be an elegant, perfumed and perhaps even "perfect" expression of this very special piece of Napa turf. 97-100p

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Information

Origin

Oakville, Napa Valley

Highlights

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