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Harlan Estate 'The Mascot' Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

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    The domain traces its beginning to the founding in 1984 of Harlan Estate, located in the western hills of Oakville and conceived as a “first growth of California.” In 1996, the family established BOND, a portfolio of “Grand Cru” vineyards whose wines showcase the range of expression of cabernet sauvignon across distinct geographical sites within the Napa Valley. As these varied sites were gradually replanted, many of the young vines contributed to my project. Yet, despite these distinguished origins, my early endeavour could only hint at the individual character embodied by each of our grands vins.

    The Mascot is a Cabernet Sauvignon predominant blend alongside a balance of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot & Malbec. It started out as a small project shared among the family, winemaking team and close friends .The wine showed charm and over time drew an affectionate following - so enthusiastic a following that they felt this intimate bottling deserved to have an identity of its own. The team took a little convincing, as the wine existed at first in very small quantities. But as more of the newer vines reached an age appropriate to warrant inclusion in the blend (typically 7 - 12 years) a certain number of barrels could be set aside for this project on an annual basis.

    Drawing fruit from blocks of recently replanted vineyards, The Mascot shares a glimpse into the evolution of its parent estates: a youthful snapshot of their future. The vineyard’s Harlan, BOND and Promontory are part of a yearly replanting program, albeit a very small percentage of the overall size of the vineyards to maintain vine health. This of course means each estate has a small evolving parcel of younger vines which when ready are selected for The Mascot. Each parcel is made separately at its respective wineries then blended during the middle to later stages of the barrel aging. At the core of the philosophy of The Mascot is the family’s passion to ensure the wine is ready for enjoyment immediately on release, hence its aged for a significant time in barrel and bottle before being made available to purchase.

    From the start, the principal characteristic of The Mascot was vigor tempered by approachability. We decided to mature the wine a little longer, so that, upon release, it was delicious to drink and intensely vibrant, with the force and depth that enabled extended aging—a wine to enjoy viscerally and without excessive reverence. In short, the wonderful wine to share among friends and family. 

    Following a vintage full of changing conditions and demanding decision points, the steady and pleasant progress of the 2018 vintage left the team, at times, in limbo. Contradictory as it may seem, the dramas that sometimes punctuate the definitive months for the growing season help to frame the winegrowing team’s course of action; yet the tranquil succession of weeks that emerged between spring and fall in 2018 left almost entirely open the question of when to harvest. Healthy rainfall in March and April preceded a benevolent summer, whose mildness was interrupted only briefly by a few warming periods. The fruit of the young vines maintained a measured balance that gave the team little indication that harvest was imminent. Fog and temperate days followed in September, when—relying more on instinct than empirical cues—we began to pick. This judgment—as well as the gentle nature of the season—is confirmed in the subtle, ethereal power of the vintage, which reveals itself first in the deep, brooding aromas of dark fruit, black tea, and herbal notes. The texture expands around a lifted structure, as powdery tannins gently resolve. This diffused, enigmatic softness is anchored on the mid-palate by a gratifying density, which prepares the senses for a flourish of hidden energy and vivid detail that illuminates the finish.

    The Finer Details
    Style - Red Wine
    Varietal - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec
    Country - United States
    Region - Napa Valley, California
    Vintage - 2018
    Bottle Size - 750ml
    ABV - 14%