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Harlan Estate 'Proprietary Red' (Oakville | 2020)

Harlan Estate 'Proprietary Red' (Oakville | 2020)

Regular price $1,899.00 USD
Regular price Sale price $1,899.00 USD
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Harlan has all the fundamentals of a top investment wine. Big brand name, consistent high points scores, and low supply (circa 2,000 cases anually). The 2020 vintage has achieved a perfect 100 point score from Lisa Perotti-Brown, 99 points from Decanter and 18/20 from Jancis Robinson. Due to the dry growing season the 2020 vintage is down 10% to 1,800 cases which makes this unique vintage even more desirable.

While 2020 became an impossible vintage for producers like Opus One and Scarecrow, Harlan Estate have managed to create a unique vintage with critical acclaim.

Harlan Estates stands as an icon within the realms of fine wine making. Nestled in the western hills of Oakville, this renowned winery has consistently produced some of the most sought-after and critically acclaimed wines in the world.

Harlan Estate has become synonymous with a commitment to quality. With a limited production and a six-year waiting list to get access to their primary release, Harlan Estate is one of the most exclusive wine producers in the world.

Described by Jancis Robinson as “one of the ten best wines of the twentieth century”, Harlan Estate’s flagship red – new French oak barrelled for up to 36 months depending on the vintage – is a truly unique expression of a California Cabernet Sauvignon; rich, deep and concentrated with a sense of elegance and purity.

The proprietary red has received no less than seven perfect 100 scores from Robert Parker, with the remaining vintages wavering around the 97+ mark. Combined with limited availability, it’s little wonder Harlan Estate has all the hallmarks of a mythical cult wine, second perhaps only to Screaming Eagle. Prices reflect this accordingly, and committed enthusiasts are willing to pay top dollar to be part of the Harlan story.

“Lots of mineral, red berry, and black fruit layers intertwined to offer an incredibly complex, yet beautifully poised, experience… Wow: it’s a pure, effortless, truthful wine.”
100 Points – Lisa Perrotti-Brown

At the 2000 Napa Valley Wine Auction, a 10-vintage vertical selection of magnum bottles sold for $700,000. The product is superb, of course, but customers are paying for the kind of long-term returns one would expect from a truly world-class wine. Generally, the wine is sold direct to customers on the estate’s exclusive mailing list. Harlan Estate makes for an extremely handsome investment – if you can get your hands on it.


99 rated by Decanter
The 2020 Harlan Estate is such a pretty wine - compact, tightly knit, with a coiled-up energy that delivers surprise and intrigue in every swirl and sip as the wine evolves in the glass. Leading with beautifully delicate wild herbs, dried and crushed bay laurel and sage, red and black currant fruit, and a pop of liquorice intermixed with cigar leaf. Medium to full-bodied with a richness to the mid-palate and intense grip from the wine's multidimensional acidity. Almost feathery and extremely fine tannins frame all this, and the wine finishes long, cool, and so composed. Tasted at Harlan Estate with director of winegrowing Cory Empting and Will Harlan, managing director at Domain H. William Harlan. Both expressed to me that the 2020 vintage - while challenging because of the fires - has resulted in a critical inflection point in the evolution of Harlan. 'We gained 5-10 years of learning in one year', said Will, intimating that their scrupulous probing and attention to detail amounted to a genuinely academic year in farming. Empting, for his part, explained that while it's not unusual for picks at Harlan to begin in late August, the entire property was finished with harvest by 12 September - the earliest in the estate's history. Empting said that his greatest concern was wind direction after the LNU fire ignited on 17 August. Favourable winds kept the smoke at bay for their Oakville vines. Most importantly, Empting emphasised that the growing season, which began dry and warm and continued as much, meant that picking by the second week in September didn't mean picking underripe grapes. 'We weren't just picking early to pick early; the grape ripened earlier', he said, and given the age of their vines (30-40 years) and the fact that as of this writing, some 70% of the vineyard is dry-farmed, the vines are adapting in ways Empting and even longtime vineyard manager Bob Levy hadn't imagined. Fermentations were faster but not hotter as sugar levels were lower, and while they pulled back on punch-downs, the wine macerated on the skins longer. 'The result and surprise are in the details and fine-ness of tannins', remarked Will, 'It's not a complete departure; we feel we have removed the clouding and can see it all so unobstructed'. In short, the structure of the Harlan estate has come into focus. In subsequent vintages, as with 2021 and 2022, grapes were harvested on the earlier side, never eschewing ripeness but paying closer attention to what 'ripeness' means for the vines growing at Harlan Estate. For my part as a reviewer, the best observation I can make is that there is indeed a remarkable freshness and tension, like turning the page of a great Fitzgerald novel only to find the story continues to build, surprise, delight, and inspire intrigue.

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