Harlan Estate, Napa Valley Red Wine 1990

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 – Elegant Burgundian rot on the nose, compost and estuary mud, fresh and soft, tannins bright alongside very evolved fruit, all plum and damson but stewed with sugar, that sweetness not unpleasant – a little bit of green on the end palate

Bob Levy – sweet red fruits, confiture, slightly dried tomato notes, cedar, tobacco, straw, soft, slightly tannic finish

Cory Empting – cigar box, violet candies, iris, animal, meaty; what a wonderful array of aromas circling around a stately core; the tannins remain chiseled yet noble; the grand amoire! I feel more Rayas than Napa cabernet

Don Weaver – some old world charm atop still vibrant fruit; sweet core, less complex than modern vintages but not simple; unbearable lightness of being! still going strong

François Vignaud – touch of age showing with beautiful complexity, just enough earthiness, leather, seashell, minerality; youthfulness, structure, but flowing, elegance

Bill Harlan – great classic nose, lean, soft with structure

Jamie Ritchie – Supple, savory and sweet. Very well integrated and finely grained. Still fleshy and retaining richness, but with maturity, elegance and balance. Finishes with prunes, tea, tar, roses, spice and forest floor. An historic wine, as the first vintage of Harlan, and set the benchmark for the quality of the wines that followed.

Jim Walker –  nose is significantly different here, much better than I remember; soft, elegant, alive, forward fruit takes a backseat to the earthiness; tannins present but soft

Kelli White –  beautiful, perfumed, evocative nose of pencil shavings, frankincense, fruit leather, clove, shitake, campfire & blood; really profound; serious structure; aristocratic; incredibly long finish

Will Harlan – whoa! super-classic Bordeaux nose; welcoming; slightly hollow mid-palate, but impressively ripe; texture is silky, streamlined; palate has a sweet core


Wine Details



Wine Style


Grape Varieties

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot



Bottle size


Drink dates

2020 - 2030







Napa Valley AVA

Tasting Information



Tasted by

Adam Lechmere

UK Stockist

Secondary market

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