|Raisin||Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Bordeaux Blend|
The 2018 Harlan Estate was tasted as a barrel sample, to be bottled in March. Deep garnet-purple in color, it needs a fair bit of swirling to reveal a wonderfully fragrant perfume of blueberry pie, chocolate-covered cherries, mulberries and black currant pastilles with hints of cumin seed, rose oil and black olives. Medium to full-bodied, the taut, grainy-textured palate delivers remarkable energy with compelling tension and a long, graceful, earth-laced finish.
Stunning on every level, the 2018 Harlan Estate reveals a dense purple hue as well as an incredible bouquet of crème de cassis, graphite, crushed stone, iron, violets, and tobacco. Reminding me of a hypothetical blend of Ducru Beaucaillou and Pontet Canet from a great, classical vintage (or a more elegant version of the 2013 for simplicity), it's medium to full-bodied, perfectly balanced, powerful yet elegant, and has a finish that won't quit. This is pure gold in Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s already drinkable yet will benefit from 4-6 years of bottle age and have 40 years of prime drinking.
Deep, profound, savoury, wonderful combination of fruit purity, power, concentration but also great elegance and finesse. The savoury aftertaste lingers here for 30–45 seconds. Not at all showy, this somehow manages to be fresh, structured, powerful, ripe and has great potential for the future. Cherry/damson/blackberry fruit notes but the fruit is a sideshow to how this has been constructed. Glorious stuff.
Classy earth, oak and bay-leaf character on the nose, together with dark fruit, such as currants and blackberries. Forest flowers, too. Full-to medium-bodied, linear and tight with coolness and freshness. Mint and spearmint to the dark fruit. Lasts a long time. Such balance and intensity. Tight now, but great energy and length this year. Incredibly sophisticated and seductive. A joy to taste now, but try in 2025.
The 2018 Harlan Estate is deep, plush and full of potential. But potential is the key word here, as the 2018 is also very reticent today. Its depth, power and pedigree are all obviously apparent. It is an atypical wine for Napa, as the acids, tannin and structure are all pretty prominent. Hints of black cherry, gravel, spice, menthol and lavender gradually open with some coaxing. The 2018 is a remarkable wine. I remember tasting it for the first time in Spring 2019, when it came across as a bit light. Perhaps that was a reflection of early blending and a wine that had not bounced back from that. Since then, the 2018 has gained in richness and volume, while retaining the finessed style that is such a signature here these days.
A classic example of 2018 Napa Cabernet, this has a deep well of fruit in the form of black currant, blackberry and boysenberry reduction laced liberally with notes of smoldering tobacco, warm earth and tar, which compete for attention on the muscular yet driven finish. Subtle bay leaf and cast iron echoes at the very end add intrigue. This should be among the longer-lived wines of the vintage. Best from 2024 through 2045.
Half of all rain in 2018 came in March, April, and May. Budbreak was in early April, and the growing season was just idyllic, with temperatures in Oakville rarely exceeding 32°C. With 2018 we begin to see Harlan imprinting its wines with very fine points that it has learned and achieved and its nearly 40-year history. Everything is in focus here, with stunning layers of pure black and red-toned fruits, even blue fruits, full of expression and pitch, striking chords and colours in an expansive, full-bodied richness that bears a kind of weight and weightlessness. Underneath the ripe fruit expressions are elements of cedarwood, and Oakville moss, while the voluptuousness of the wine is framed by pixilated tannins, coiled-up acidity, and a finish that reveals earth, mineral, and a panoply of exotic brown spices—pure harmony. Drink from 2025 to 2060 and beyond.