The extraordinary Harlan Estate, which I awarded 100 points seven years ago, offers no justifiable reason to doubt its perfect score. It is still a baby, with an inky purple color and notes of smoky camphor intermixed with creme de cassis, Asian soy and a hint of cedar beginning to emerge as well as some espresso and subtle damp forest floor notes. The wine has awesome intensity, a full-bodied mouthfeel, a skyscraper-like texture, and a finish that goes on for close to a minute. This is a perfect wine, still youthful and young, and not even in full adolescence as of 2012. It has 40 or more years ahead of it, but should hit its plateau of full maturity in another 5-10 years. It is certainly one of the most showy , flamboyant and remarkable Harlan Estates made to date. (More recently, the 2007 tends to resemble this wine more than any other vintage I can think of.) Kudos to Bill Harlan! (RP)
The aroma is deep and inviting, equal parts new oak, Cabernet fruit and dried herbs. Has tremendous weight, with red and black cherry, cola, chocolate, cassis and roasted coconut flavors. Brilliant now, virtually flawless and totally delicious, yet has the impeccable balance to age and even improve over the years. The listed price is its pre-release price. Drink now through at least 2020. *Cellar Selection*
Deep medium ruby. Knockout nose combines black raspberry, blackberry, candied violet, licorice pastille, black pepper and a suggestion of dusty earth. Like a liquid confection in the mouth: thick and sweet yet almost magically shapely and fresh. The longest, most inexorably palate-staining wine of my tour of the North Coast in early March: this lost no strength in my mouth after I had spit it. Damn near close to perfect wine; only my own refusal to give a perfect score to a wine that's still a decade or more short of its peak kept my score down. Bill Harlan, incidentally, compares the 2002 vintage to the 1995, which is showing spectacularly today. (I was able to retaste the extraordinary 2001, which is perhaps even more classic than the 2002 if not quite as extravagantly thick, with slightly more roasted yet sappy aromas and flavors of crystallized berries, minerals, tar and licorice, and great inner-mouth energy and persistence. This very backward wine has the acid/tannin spine to evolve in bottle for 15 to 20 years. (ST) 98+
Offers a core of rich dark berry, sour cherry, black licorice, loamy earth and dried berry flavors. Full-bodied, firmly tannic, yet deep and concentrated, almost too young in this tasting. Drink now through 2024. (JL, Web Only-2012)
Luxurious red velvet look with a deep brick rim. Extremely voluptuous and flattering – essence of Napa Valley and the richest form of Cabernet Sauvignon – obviously pretty alcoholic but reined in on the finish. Really caresses the palate. Round and rich. Fleshy and opulent. Positively slides over the palate with just a hint of tea leaves on the finish which keeps it refreshing. Harlan has arguably perfected the art of producing Napa Valley Cabernet that is nothing at all like red bordeaux but succeeds on its own terms. 19/20 points.
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