Harlan Estate, Napa Valley Red Wine 2011

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 available 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 – Wow. The character of 2011 shines out, the bright herbaceous nose, sage and leather and an animal aroma, skin and muscle, barnyard, hay in the stable. Palate with minerally black currant, fresh, precise, very juicy, charming, the tannins green rather than sappy. No fat to this at all, it’s lean, serious, slightly angular. The quality of the tannins is very different to its sister wines, at first taste they are dry, mitigated by drops of juice, but as the wine opens in the glass they soften and charm.

Bob Levy -dried herbs, green peppercorns, red peppers, dried leaves, forest floor, hints of barely ripe blackberry; broad & juicy in texture, sage-like savory flavors in finish; very fine-grained tannins add to depth & length

Cory Empting – something vegetal, spicy, almost reductive; on the palate, the wine is lifted, detailed as the tannins finish, there is a more space between each one; the humility of this wine is its most compelling attribute

Don Weaver – slightly exotic nose, blue tones; graphite, fresh herbs, green in a good way; smaller in scale, less plush, more linear and focused; less volume and weight, mid-palate is round; all in all, a standout with great charm

François Vignaud – pepper, earthy tones, subtle sous-bois, bell pepper; a different wine, bell pepper extract character much fresher & feeling drier; narrow mouthfeel, elevated tight tannins, lively mouthfeel with energy & lightness; flowing, enough frame for aging

Bill Harlan – forest floor, lighter in weight; pleasurable, not as much depth or complexity; blue fruits, less weight; a meatiness

Jamie Ritchie – Herbal, mineral, spicy nose. Provence with a touch of green pepper, black currants and cherries. Juicy, fresh, vibrant and well delineated. Lighter touch and more elegant than most Harlan’s with a purity and transparency. Lovely freshness and brightness, with a long finish of blackcurrant and cherries, cedar and tobacco. Drink from now

Jim Walker –  nose seems tighter that the 2012; nice fruit, red initially then black; 15-20 second finish

Kelli White – a quiet, subtle nose of bright red fruit, red Delicious apples, dried leaves, uncooked mushrooms & tarragon; palate is juicier than the nose indicates, with a fine acidic backbone tannins are powdery and subtle; a piquant, upright, elegant wine

Will Harlan – floral, fresh, cool; aromatically difficult to tell from a well-made old world wine from a warm/good vintage; really lovely, very complete; slender, restrained, less spherical with good flow

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

Secondary market

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