The 2017 Harlan Estate is superb. Deep, inky and wonderfully expressive, the 2017 is impeccably rendered. All the elements come together effortlessly. The nervous tannins of the vintage are evident, but there is also plenty of sumptuousness.
Time in the glass brings out a whole range of red-toned fruit and floral notes that are surprising for a year with a massive heat spike. The 2017 is polished and sophisticated to the core, in a word: impressive.
Drink 2025 - 2042
Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com (December 2020)
Deep garnet-purple in colour, 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.
Drink 2023 - 2053
Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate (January 2021)
Love the sage and mint undertones with currants and berries. Some lead pencils. Iodine. Medium to full body and very fine tannins. Lovely freshness. It’s a refined and gorgeous Harlan. Savoury. Beautiful finish.
Drinkable now, but better after 2022
James Suckling, jamessuckling.com (November 2020)
About this WINE
Harlan Estate is one of California's best-known wineries. Widely renowned, its wines possess an extraordinary complexity and potential for ageing and are some of the most sought-after in the world.
When Bill Harlan founded Harlan Estate in 1984, his vision was to produce a Californian "first growth" from the hills of Oakville. Inspired by the legendary producers of Bordeaux and pioneering producers in the USA – Robert Mondavi in particular – he planted his Napa Valley vineyards with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot.
Harlan Estate now spans 97 hectares, of which 40 are under vine. Most vineyards lie on hillsides, in terraces and closely-spaced vines. Here, the winery team primarily employs organic and biodynamic practices.
While each bottle in the range can be praised for its power and richness, the Proprietary Red is perhaps the estate's best-known wine, having received seven perfect scores from Robert Parker.
Oakville is a renowned wine region in the heart of Napa Valley, California, USA. It is considered one of the premier appellations for producing high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon wines. The favourable climate, diverse soil types, and skilled winemaking practices have contributed to Oakville’s reputation as a top wine-producing area.
The primary grape variety is Cabernet Sauvignon, which thrives in the region’s warm climate and well-drained soils. However, you can also find other Bordeaux varietals such as Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec, as well as some white wine grapes like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Oakville benefits from a Mediterranean climate with warm, sunny days and cool nights. The region’s proximity to San Pablo Bay allows for morning fog, which provides natural cooling, making it ideal for slow grape ripening and flavour development.
The diverse soils add to the complexity of the wines produced. The region features a mix of volcanic, alluvial, and sedimentary soils that offer distinct characteristics to the grapes. The Napa River runs through the area, further enriching the soils with sediment deposits.
Oakville is home to some of the most prestigious and iconic wineries in Napa Valley. Prominent names like Robert Mondavi Winery, Opus One, Far Niente, Screaming Eagle, and Harlan Estate have put Oakville on the world wine map.
Winemakers in Oakville employ various traditional and modern winemaking techniques to ensure the highest quality wines. Careful grape selection, hand harvesting, small-lot fermentations, oak barrel aging, and blending are standard practices used to craft complex and balanced wines.
In recognition of the unique terroir and distinct characteristics of the wines produced, Oakville was designated as an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 1993. This official appellation status further solidifies the region’s significance in the wine industry.
The most famous red wine grape in the world and one of the most widely planted.
It is adaptable to a wide range of soils, although it performs particularly well on well-drained, low-fertile soils. It has small, dusty, black-blue berries with thick skins that produce deeply coloured, full-bodied wines with notable tannins. Its spiritual home is the Médoc and Graves regions of Bordeaux where it thrives on the well-drained gravel-rich soils producing tannic wines with piercing blackcurrant fruits that develop complex cedarwood and cigar box nuances when fully mature.
The grape is widely planted in California where Cabernet Sauvignon based wines are distinguished by their rich mixture of cassis, mint, eucalyptus and vanilla oak. It is planted across Australia and with particular success in Coonawarra where it is suited to the famed Terra Rossa soil. In Italy barrique aged Cabernet Sauvignon is a key component in Super Tuscans such as Tignanello and Sassicaia, either on its own or as part of a blend with Sangiovese.