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Bond Estates

Bond’s stated philosophy is “a portfolio of wines that are diverse in their geographic representation and ‘Grand Cru’ in quality, all under the umbrella of one philosophy, one team, one mark.”  And it’s a pretty good starting point or summation of what they’re about.

 Bond Estates currently comprises five single-vineyard wines from distinct sites throughout the Napa Valley.  Four of the five are hillside vineyards, with one essentially on the valley-floor, although it’s different to most in that it’s north-facing (like one other neighbouring property – Screaming Eagle) and therefore cooler than is typical.  The five properties were selected from the more than 60 distinct vineyard sites that the team at Harlan have worked with over the past 20 years.

All of these vineyards are small – between seven and ten acres – and are entirely managed by the Harlan/Bond team.  Whilst distinct from Harlan (which is a single-vineyard on the western hillside of Oakville), with a separate viticultural, winemaking  team and director, it is impossible not to notice the obvious similiarities, such as philosophy and the pursuit of absolute excellence.

 Quite frankly, the quality and style of each of these five wines rivals or indeed exceeds that of many of the best Napa Valley Cabernets, and any of these wines is more than capable of standing alone as a ‘cult’ wine in their own right.  In some ways, the wines do themselves a disservice by not only all being such spectacular wines, but inevitably being overshadowed by the Harlan Estate umbrella.

Let me state this clearly, these stunning wines are all world-class and qualitatively the equivalent of the best of Bordeaux, or indeed any other top Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines from anywhere in the world.

 

The Vineyards

 

pluribus.jpgPLURIBUS: The Northernmost, highest elevation, and coolest of the five vineyards is Pluribus, which is located around 350-450 meters in altitude on the slopes of Spring Mountain (on the western edge of the Napa Valley, north of St Helena).  This seven-acre vineyard, surrounded by conifers, is on volcanic bedrock with some iron-rich topsoil and has northern and eastern exposures.  It is noteworthy that the vineyard is very steep in parts, despite being contoured within a gentle slope or outcrop on the mountainside.

All of these influences contribute to the wine’s power and concentration, with deep mineral flavours and a Provençal garrigue or herbal note.

 

quella.jpgQUELLA:  The newest of the five sites, with 2006 the inaugural vintage.  Quella is a nine-acre site planted on an ancient, uplifted riverbed covered by a thin layer of Tufa (white volcanic powdery ash), with a southwestern exposure.  Most of the vineyard is steep, and is quite exposed to the elements, with winds particularly prominent here.  Raised from the Valley floor at around 140-180 meters, it is on the eastern hillsides not far from Howell Mountain overlooking the heart of the Napa Valley, directly east of the city of St Helena. 

This wine has a mineral-driven style, with strong blueberry and graphite flavours, and substantial tannins that are at once elegant and refined, yet in need of plenty of time to resolve.


MELBURY:  This stunning vineyard, on a rocky hillside overlooking Lake Hennessey on the eastern part of the Napa Valley has an Eastern and Southeastern exposure, catching the morning sun yet offering cooler afternoon temperatures that many vineyards.  It is between 100-150 meters in altitude.

The wine is rich, plush, and immediately appealing, loaded with ripe fruits, spice and heady aromas.  Notwithstanding its ripeness, the wine is generally quite fine, supple and textural in style.

 

st-eden.jpgST EDEN:  The lowest in altitude of the five sites, a mere 40-60 meters – essentially on the Valley floor.  However with its (rare) northern exposure and iron-rich volcanic soils courtesy of an alluvial fan from the Vaca Mountains  – the vineyards of neighbour Screaming Eagle shares similar traits – the wine avoids the over-the-top characters of many Valley floor wines, and whilst rich and opulent in style, retains freshness and vitality with very good acidity and a beautiful mineral core. 

Rich and concentrated, yet with finesse and balance – a far cry from the stereotypical Napa blockbuster, with loads of dark berry, plum, chocolate and herb notes.  Simply delicious.

 

vecina.jpgVECINA:  Around 100 meters in elevation, planted on the western foothills of Oakville giving the 10 acre vineyard an eastern orientation.  The topsoil is very fine, provided by an ancient alluvial fan, over volcanic bedrock.  The site is actually very close to that of Harlan Estate itself.  A large knoll is contour planted and forms the striking feature of this vineyard.

Always powerful and intense, with stunning savoury blackberry, plum and mineral flavoured fruit.  Very complex and lengthy finish.  An absolute star.

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