Robert Parker sums up the Harlan Estate magic neatly: “These wines possess all the elements of greatness – individuality, power combined with elegance, extraordinary complexity, remarkable aging potential and compelling richness without ponderousness.” Their exacting standards begin in the field and follow through every step of winemaking alchemy to craft something as close to perfection as mere mortals can achieve. Those lucky enough to lay hands on this mythical beast can count themselves among the few to experience the apex of Proprietary Red.
When it comes to wine pioneers credited with building Napa Valley's reputation as a producer of ultra luxury Cabernets, Bill Harlan may be second only to Robert Mondavi. In 1984, the then Northern California real estate developer and founder of Meadowood Resort and Spa made it his mission to produce the greatest red wine in California, a Napa Valley Grand Cru. After purchasing 240 acres in Oakville and planting 40 with Bordeaux grapes, Harlan teamed up two of the world's greatest winemakers, California's Bob Levy and Bordeaux' Michel Rolland, aka The Flying Winemaker.
Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2017 Harlan Estate needs a little coaxing to reveal captivating iron ore, red currant jelly, cloves and crushed rocks scents with a core of warm cassis, Black Forest cake and boysenberries plus a waft of pencil lead. Medium to full-bodied, it has a firm, grainy texture with a lively backbone and loads of earthy layers, long and mineral laced. This should be one of the longer-lived wines coming out of the 2017 vintage.
Love the sage and mint undertones with currants and berries. Some lead pencil. Iodine. Medium to full body and very fine tannins. Lovely freshness. It’s a refined and gorgeous Harlan. Savory. Beautiful finish.
The Grand Vin is the 2017 Harlan Estate, and this beauty just about jumps from the glass with its pure cassis and blackcurrant fruits as well as notes of tobacco, graphite, crushed stone, and spice. With a full-bodied, expansive mouthfeel, building, velvety tannins, and a layered, seamless style that offers way more pleasure than just about every other wine in the vintage, bottles can be enjoyed any time over the coming 20-25 years.