2004 Harlan Estate Napa Valley Wine Tasting Note


2004 Harlan Estate  (Napa Valley) 98

Just stunning in every sense, the wine balances extreme levels of power, concentration and elegance, which is hard to do. Very ripe, but not overripe, the fruit is dark, sweet, ostentatious and refined. The wine is never tiring, instead, it is enthralling to taste. Every sip provides another experience, and isn't that what all great wines do?

993 Views   Tasted

This is just great in every sense of the word. With a nose that shouts quite loudly about its smoke, incense, fruit cake, blackberry, port and black cherry aromatics, the wine is concentrated, full bodied, opulently textured, balanced and intense. Still youthful, yet definitively drinking well now, the finish is loaded with plush, opulently textured, ripe, dark fruits that really linger. I'm sure this is the wine of the vintage.

4756 Views   Tasted 99

Served blind, there was no way a taster could avoid the mountain of silky pleasure in the glass. Licorice, smoke, black cherry, jam, espresso and earthy scents combined with lush, fat, perfectly ripe berries and a long, fresh, sensuous finish. Wow! This was probably decanted about 20 minutes before serving.

4491 Views   Tasted 97

Deep in color with a flamboyant, expressive nose packed with licorice, black cherry, blackberry, coffee, smoke, earth, truffle and ripe, no make that very ripe berries. Powerful, rich, intense and packed with layers of ripe, juicy, mouth filling fruit, no hard edges and seamless, plush textures, this large scaled vintage of Harlan Estate is still young and demands more time in the cellar before it softens and fleshes out.

8173 Views   Tasted 98
Harlan Stone Wine Tasting Notes, Ratings

Harlan Stone Wine Tasting Notes, Ratings

Everything about Harlan Estate, Napa Valley California Cabernet Sauvignon wine producer profile, wine tasting notes, wine and food pairing tips, best vintages, history of the property, information on their wine making techniques, terroir and soil. You can also read about the Grapes used for California wine and learn about the extensive History of Napa Valley, California Wines

Harlan Estate History, Overview

Like many of the famous names making wine in Napa, Bill Harlan owes a debt of gratitude to Robert Mondavi. It was a trip to Bordeaux and Burgundy with Mondavi that inspired Bill Harlan to create his vision of a First Growth California winery. It took only a few years before Bill Harlan created Harlan Estate in 1984. Prior to starting Harlan Estate, Harlan led a colorful life. He flew planes, gambled professionally as a Poker player and eventually settled on a career in real estate buying and selling properties and converting apartments to condominiums.

With his experience in real estate, he knew a value when he saw one. It was a run down country club that Bill Harlan turned into the number one hotel and resort in the Napa Valley, Meadowood. Shortly after that, Harlan began purchasing undeveloped land from the Stelling family, which soon became Harlan Estate. The wine of Harlan Estate were several years in the making. The early vintages were not commercially released. To learn more about the wine business, Bill Harlan created Merryvale, with the help of winemaker, Bill Levy, who is still with the Harlan team today.

According to Bill Harlan, his goal was to produce a Bordeaux First Growth equivalent in California. He's achieved that in spades with Harlan Estate based on the quality, price and status his wine has in the marketplace. All that, and they sell futures too!

The creation of Harlan Estate dates back almost three decades. The project first took hold in 1984. That year, Harlan began planting the vines for what would later become Harlan Estate. They started with only 6 acres, which of course expanded with time. The vineyard plantings consist of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. That varietal combination would be at home in Bordeaux in any First Growth property located in the Medoc. The winery at Harlan was built in 2002.

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Harlan Estate Vineyards, Wines, Winemaking

The 36 acre vineyards of Harlan Estate are located on some of the better elevations and soils in the Oakville appellation. From the vineyards, you get great views of the Napa Valley. One of the keys to the terroir of Harlan Estate is the elevation. This ranges from a low of 225 feet to an impressive 1225 feet above sea level. Harlan Estate vineyards are in truth, just one piece of a bigger estate. In total, the property of Harlan Estate includes more than 240 acres of land! Everything is not planted. A lot of the surface area is relegated to the picturesque hills, valleys and amazing views from various overlooks.

All great wines share a common thread, they are produced in the vineyard. At Harlan Estate, that starts with a policy of severe selection in the vines and in the cellars. To insure the elegant textures, freshness and complexity Harlan Estate is known for, they completely destem the grapes. The fruit is whole berry fermented and they avoid pumping over. Harlan Estate wines are fermented in small, open top vats. Malolactic fermentation takes place in 100% new French oak. The wine remains in barrel for 24-36 months, depending on the vintage. With time, the oak fades as it becomes integrated into the wine.

The first commercial vintage of Harlan Estate was released in 1990. Prior years were made for friends and family. The team at Harlan Estate has remained relatively consistent over the years. The team starts with Don Weaver, estate director, Bill Levy, wine growing director, Mary Maher, vineyard manager, winemaker, Cory Empting and Michel Rolland, who is their consultant. Don Weaver is the long time director of Harlan Estate.

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The average annual production of Harlan estate varies from vintage to vintage. It ranges from a low of 1,200 cases to slightly over 2,000 cases. Harlan Estate also produced a second wine. The Maiden made its debut in 1995. While some consumers consider the Maiden a second wine, that is not case, according to Harlan. The Maiden is always a completely different blend than you find in Harlan Estate, making it its own unique wine. The average annual production of the Maiden is close to 900 cases per vintage.

Harlan Estate Wine is expensive. The wine is sold direct to customers on Harlan's mailing list. The current release costs over $500 per bottle. Is it worth it? That depends on your income level and desire to drink one of the best wines made from California Cabernet Sauvignon. From a quality point of view, you're going to have a hard time finding a better expression of California Cabernet.

What do the wines of Harlan Estate taste like?

Harlan Estate produces a unique expression of California Cabernet Sauvignon. With a powerful perfume, the wines are rich, deep, concentrated and intense. Yet there is a sense of elegance and purity of fruit that meshes perfectly with all the power. When it's young, in very ripe vintages, the wine can seem over the top, but with time, those sensations mature allowing the wine to deliver one of the best tasting experiences found in modern California Cabernet Sauvignon wine. Harlan Estate is truly a world class wine, with prices to match. Harlan Estate has over the years become a mythical California Cabernet. Only Screaming Eagle is held in higher esteem in the marketplace. How did this happen and how are some of the wines showing today?

Serving and Decanting Harlan with Wine, Food, Pairing Tips

Harlan wines are best served at 15.5 degrees Celsius, 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The cool, almost cellar temperature gives the wine more freshness and lift. Young vintages of their red wine can be decanted for 1-3 hours, depending on the character of the vintage. This allows the wine to soften and open its perfume. Older vintages might need very little decanting, just enough to remove the sediment.

The red wine of Harlan is best served with all types of classic meat dishes, veal, pork, beef, lamb, duck, game, roast chicken, ribs, hamburgers, barbecue, roasted, braised, grilled dishes and stews. Harlan is also good with Asian dishes, hearty fish courses like tuna, salmon, mushrooms and pasta.