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Harlan Estate

harlan-sign.jpgHarlan Estate is the result of one man's - Bill Harlan's - quest for perfection with Cabernet Sauvignon.  Robert Parker notes that "Harlan Estate might just be the single-most profound red wine made not just in California, but the entire world."  Harlan Estate's wines are a compelling combination of power, intensity and complexity with, importantly, balance and finesse.  The wines are pure, rich and utterly delicious.  Harlan Estate is an uncompromised, yet unforced wine that, year-in, year-out, rivals the very best Bordeaux first-growths.

From the beginning, Harlan Estate's philosophy was about uncompromised perfection.  Initial plantings began in harlan-vines.jpg1984, with an almost unending series of further plantings (and replantings) since then.  Wine was first made in 1987, though the inaugural release was the 1990 vintage, when it was felt an appropriate style and level of quality had been obtained.  This was released in 1996.  Even now, the wines are released at four years of age - when harmony has been achieved.

Less than 15% of the 100 hectares that comprise Harlan Estate, on the western hillside of Oakville in teh heart of the Napa Valley, are planted - site selection being critical - to about 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and a little Petit Verdot.  However the Estate wine rarely enjoys these proportions, being predominantly (and occasionally entirely) Cabernet Sauvignon, with just a small percentage of the other varieties.

harlan-barrels.jpgAs you would expect, nothing is left to chance in the pursuit of perfection here.  Selection of bunches at harvest is subject to strict selection, and the grapes are de-stemmed without any crushing prior to a further triage to remove any imperfect berries.  Very gentle maceration and extraction over a prolonged period, with primary fermentation in small-batch open fermenters before malolactics and maturation in 100% new French oak from a handful of coopers.  Ageing in barrel is between two and three years, depending on vintage, prior to bottling unfiltered and unfined.

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