Harlan Estate & Bryant Family California Cabernet Wine Tasting notes

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Jeff Leve
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Harlan Estate & Bryant Family California Cabernet Wine Tasting notes

Post by Jeff Leve » Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:43 am

2002 Harlan Estate – With its explosive nose of licorice, blackberry, blue fruit, jammy berries, oak, fresh herbs, oak and caramel grabs your attention. Thick, juicy, dense and concentrated, with layers of creamy, polished jammy blackberries and coffee flavors, this made a solid impression. I tasted this on release and thought it was over the top. This tasting changed my mind, I was surprised by how much I liked it. It’s truly a world class wine. 99 Pts

1995 Harlan Estate - When this was poured, I was told it was the 98 I was blown away by how good the wine was. I was convinced this was the California cabernet of the vintage. When I discovered it was the 95, I did not care, this was compelling. Filled with black cherry jam, licorice, smoke, herbs and truffle scents, this rich, dense wine was a treat for the senses The wine ends with silky blackberry and chocolate flavors. 97 Pts

95 Bryant Family - This is filled with smoke, cassis, licorice, truffle, chocolate and coffee scents. Sexy, supple, soft and silky, this opulent wine feels like velvet when it spills over your palate. Combining lushness and intensity, this stellar wine finishes with a rich chocolate covered, cherry finish, What a treat! 97 Pts


For more detail on Harlan, I just published a long article on the home page with some great photos.


www.thewinecellarinsider.com/?p=12993

Tony Velebil
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Post by Tony Velebil » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:11 am

The 2002 Harlan is stunning. It's big but balanced.

Jeff Leve
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Post by Jeff Leve » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:23 am

Tony... What surprised was how much the wine had changed after a few years. I was expecting not to like the wine. I loved the 2001. When the 2002 was released, it was too big and bold. A few years of bottle age really added a lot to this wine. When you're tasting a wine not expecting to like a wine and it blows you away, that says a lot about the wine.

Oh... Being your good friend, I'm happy to drink yours too :D

Tony Velebil
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Post by Tony Velebil » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:29 am

Hah...I didn't buy any! At $400 or so per bottle I passed.

The 01 I have personally dumped down the drain and seen dumped down the drain because of VA

David Glasser
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Post by David Glasser » Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:17 pm

'02 Harlan is right up there with the '94 - two best Harlan's ever IMO.

Carrie Bowman
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Post by Carrie Bowman » Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:05 pm

The last Harlan I had was a 1992 & it was absolutely orgasmic. Wonderfully silky and elegant, (almost like enjoying a great ballet), the most intoxicating black fruits, spice & toasty oak, thinking the last sip was going to be soon saddened me. One of the better CA Cab I can remember to date.

Steve Matthesen
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Post by Steve Matthesen » Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:13 pm

Tony -- very surprised. I think the 2001 is another 1994. Just a super wine. I have had it several times -- from bottle and magnum and it has always been super. Jeff and I had the 2002 on release and hated it. I had it a couple of years later and still like 2001 more, but agree with Jeff it has settled down quite a bit and is quite good now.

Steve Matthesen
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Post by Steve Matthesen » Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:17 pm

From a full vertical in 2006...

I thought 1994 was clearly my WOTN, followed by 2001, 1991, and 1990. While I liked the 1995, it didn’t do as much for me as it did for others. I found it a bit less well integrated than some of the others. Lots of stuffing, but less balance than my favorites. For a young wine, that 2001 was just killer. Others have said that the 1994 tasted like that in its youth; I can believe that.

We had some discussion about whether the style of winemaking changed, or whether the wines changed as they aged. I hope that the aging answer is closer to the truth because the older wines were lovely.


Flight #1


1993 Harlan Estate
A pretty nose showing a mineral element in addition to dark fruits and cedar. More Bordeaux-like than I expected. Quite a bit of grip, but showing nice balance. Certainly not a blockbuster, but a nice wine that has more potential in front of it. My pet theory is that lesser Napa vintages often produce wines that are a bit more old-world in style and benefit from aging. 91 points

2000 Harlan Estate
A very young nose – much jammier than the 1993. Quite tasty, but I found it simplier and less interesting than the 1993. 90 points

Flight #2

1991 Harlan Estate
Wow! A fabulous nose showing lots of dark fruit, anise, cassis, and graphite. Palate was both balanced and very intense. A great example of how Harlan brings tremendous intensity while retaining balance and not being too heavy. A great long finish. 97 points

1998 Harlan Estate
This one didn’t do too much for me. A muted nose that was a bit simple (although it got better in the glass). A bit austere on the palate with good fruit, but totally out of its league compared to the 1991. I also compared it to the 1993 and 2000 and found it the least interesting of the weaker vintages. 88 points


Flight #3

1994 Harlan Estate
As good as the 1991 was, this was even better. Always my favorite Harlan and this was just perfect. Incredible nose of rich dark fruit, but showing lots of complexity. The palate was powerful yet harmonious, with a very long finish. Just fabulous! 100 points

1997 Harlan Estate
Really disappointing. I know that this is a controversial wine, but I guess I am not a supporter. I know that Parker expects that this will somehow integrate in time and be like the 1947 Cheval, but I remain unconvinced (but what do I know). The first bottle was nearly undrinkable with extreme VA. In the mouth it actually had a fabulous mouthfeel – extremely rich and viscous. The second bottle was much better, but still had quite noticeable VA. The nose of the 1994 and the palate of the 1997 would be quite something. Best bottle ~94 points

Flight #4

1990 Harlan Estate
First bottle was corked (the only one of the night).
The good bottle was a pleasant surprise. A lovely wine with great balance and subtlety. More Bordeaux-like with great fruit, cedar, minerals, and refreshing acidity. Just lovely 96 points

1995 Harlan Estate
A very nice wine, but to me much less refined than either the 1994 or 1996. More primary and disjointed. Funny that Kelly thought it was Bordeaux-like, since I didn’t find it that way at all – much more the Napa jammy fruit bomb with lots of tannin and alcohol. I think it is certainly a good wine and suspect it just needs more time than the others to round out. 94 points

Flight #5

1996 Harlan Estate
This had a really pretty nose of dark fruit and graphite. Another one with great balance and intensity and balance. Strangely this one faded a bit in the glass. 96 points

1999 Harlan Estate
A very young wine and somewhat primary. Not as good as the 2001, but better than 2000 and 1998. 93 points

2001 Harlan Estate
This is just a beautiful wine. Great balance, complexity, and intensity. Very young, but already a fabulous wine. I would not be surprised to see this become another 1994 with some bottle age. So much potential! 99 points


Flight #6

1992 Harlan Estate
Another nice one that clearly supports the fact that these wines age nicely. I found it a bit less harmonious than the 1990, 1991, and 1994. 95 points

2002 Harlan Estate
This one was hard to judge. Very primary and exuberant. I much preferred the 2001, but I am hopeful that it just needs more time. This is the second time I have had this wine and it didn’t show well either time (this time with a lot of decanting; last time pop & pour). I don’t plan to open another one for several years. No score

David Glasser
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Post by David Glasser » Wed Mar 02, 2011 4:54 pm

I haven't had the '01 and '02 side by side, but my impressions of the '02 have been more in line with Jeff's notes of explosive, rich, etc. Not that the '01 is any slouch.

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