Red wine

Harlan Estate, Napa Valley Red Wine 1997

RRP £1,355

The following tasting note shows the combined comments of the tasting panel organised for Club Oenologique at Harlan Estate on 11 March 2020. Present: Adam Lechmere, Bill Harlan, Will Harlan, estate directer Don Weaver, collector Jim Walker, Harlan educator Kelli White, director of winegrowing Bob Levy, Jamie Ritchie of Sotheby’s fine wine, Elaine Chukan Brown (notes can be found on jancisrobinson.com), winemaker Cory Empting, associate director François Vignaud

Bordeaux blend of average 75% Cabernet Sauvignon plus varying proportions of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

Adam Lechmere – Luscious, fresh, intense nose. Bright juice and acidity and still that amazing fruit – ripe blackberry and dark cherry, texture of black chocolate. And with that, it’s approachable and fresh, and warm, if not too warm: for the first time the alcohol is apparent. The great 97 as you’ve never seen it, a big, fine and voluptuous wine

Bob Levy – bright, classic CS aromatics, very fresh aromatic, even youthful, ripe black fruits, cassis & dried cherries; VA is apparent over time in the glass; powerful, round, firm & rich on palate; ripe round tannins, long finish

Cory Empting – lots of acidity, VA; nice density, the flesh has receded; a coconut aroma that is bothersome

Don Weaver – hi-tone, maybe (not maybe) some VA; extremely complex, tension between the ripe extract and the underlying acidity; my “hippo on a high wire”

François Vignaud – ripeness? slightly burning, kirsch, elevated nose, showing alcohol; broad base, savory, touch of soy, richness with age; dry & sharp tannins but supportive acidity

Bill Harlan – good nose, leaner than I remembered, has aged well

Jamie Ritchie – Spice, mint, tea and tar. Has a depth, weight and richness which has great allure. Thick texture that coast the mouth with mint, spice, cedar and black cherries. Unctuous, fleshy and ripe with good depth and concentration. Herbal, mineral, finish of black cherries, roses, tea and tar. Excellent and ready to enjoy now.

Jim Walker –  not as intense as I remember; silky smooth, a bit of pencil shavings; a real contender!

Kelli White –  some volatility in the nose; ripe with incense, cherries, blood, sarsaparilla, really high acid; slightly disjointed texture; very savory, strident finish; perhaps in an awkward phase?

Will Harlan – Holy Moly! this 1997 is way more impressive than expected; tension, acidity, vibrant, juicy; actually, somewhat fresh, crunchy tannins; nose is appealing but not so distinctive

Wine Details



Wine Style


Grape Varieties

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot



Bottle size


Drink dates

2020 - 2040







Napa Valley AVA

Tasting Information



Tasted by

Adam Lechmere

UK Stockist