Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Napa Valley Reserve 1997, 2001 and 2005

Needless to say, anything that comes from the hands of the talented and hard working Bill Harlan turns into gold. For sure his Harlan Estate is a modern classic, one of the very best wine estates in California, and Bond is almost there as well. The Napa Valley Reserve is a unique member only wine, created by Bill Harlan in 1997 and since then a slowly growing wine club with the goal to reach 300 members. It's very easy to become a member – you only need to get a personal invitation from Bill himself, and of course pay the onetime fee of 160 000 dollars.
The winery is situated next to the luxury resort Meadowood in eastern Napa Valley, and grapes (predominately low yielding Cabernet Sauvignon) are sourced from their own vineyard as well as from Harlan Estate and Screaming Eagle (I guess), which now is part of this extraordinary venture. These are among the rarest wines in United States, and they are of course not commercial. Nevertheless, they are great!

2005 Napa Valley Reserve / 96-97?
I must be honest with the circumstances around the tasting of this wine. Since tasting (and drinking) the outstanding 1997 Napa Valley Reserve, my friend (who is a member of the club) brought this bottle to a dinner two days later, and at that time I didn’t have my notebook with me. Also, the wine was tasted open, with all that comes with that, and the tasting notes were written in the morning the day after. The color is dark and dense, and the nose shows ripe and rich fruit, very lush and sweet but still elegant and complex with some (very well integrated) notes of cacao from the new French oak. On the palate, it reminds me very much about Harlan Estate, but I usual (yes, now I feel I’m entitled to say that) it doesn’t have the same intensity and silky texture. The Napa Valley Reserve has a slightly lighter body and therefore a more obvious tannic structure. However, there is nothing but the purest fruit and classic elegance to be found in the wine. This is again, a profound wine. Drink it 2010-2020.

2001 Napa Valley Reserve / 98
This wine was presented blind in a tasting of 12 Parker 100 points wines. Only one person knew that this wine was part of the tasting, and it was included to see how it would do next to the full score 2001 Harlan Estate. There was something in the wine that reminded me about Harlan Estate, just as I felt when I tasted the 1997 vintage a few days earlier. On the nose, the wine is packed with dark and ripe fruit with just a hint of sweetness, but there is a very noble elegance that is only to be found it the greatest of wines. It’s silky, polished and elegant on the palate, still with a touch of coconut and chocolate from the oak, but with a seductive fruit and the fine mineral notes you so often find in wines from mountain sites. It is really a great wine, the best of the three vintages I tasted, just below the outstanding full score 2001 Harlan Estate. It should be drunk within the next 15-20 years.

1997 Napa Valley Reserve / 97
When this wine was poured to me, I knew about this winery, but not about the wine itself. It is too rare to be found for that! However, when I tasted it, it felt quite familiar to me. At first it was closed, still young and very elegant with a wonderful dark cherry fruit with some stony notes of minerals and just a touch of walnuts (quite often, I find this aroma in the wines of central Napa Valley). With some air, it opened up, and when I tasted it, it was marked by minerals and tannins, although ripe and very elegant which made me suspect the grapes came from a high quality mountain site. Since the fruit was very intense and ripe, but the palate so well structured, I guessed on the cooler 1999 vintage. It was not. With more time in the glass, the wine opened up even more, and the more I sipped on the wine, the more my guesses went to Harlan Estate. When the bottled was showed (on this vintage, it was only labeled with the small vintage sticker), I didn’t realized it was the Napa Valley Reserve. It really tasted like Harlan Estate, but slightly more structured.
I have a theory on this wine, not proven nor mentioned at Harlan Estate (of course). Since 1997 vintage was great, and a big one, most of the grapes in this unique wine were sourced from the hills of Harlan Estate. It really makes sense. For sure Bill Harland needed an outstanding wine to attract members to his new exclusive wine club, and for sure he had a larger crop than ever to use. Whatever is true, this is a wonderful wine. Drink it 2009-2017.


  1. Hello,
    I'm looking to host a wine party and I have a small vertical of the Napa Valley Reserve (01,02 & 03) can you please advise me of some food pairings as I want to accentuate the wine. Also being served will be the Alpha Omega Prop Red (03, 04 & 05)
    Thanks much I appreciate your help

  2. What about the 2002 Napa Valley Reserve . I have. 2 bottles please respond to my email address as follows.

  3. Hi
    I m looking Napa valley reserve wine 2007

  4. Easily Boost Your ClickBank Commissions And Traffic

    Bannerizer makes it easy for you to promote ClickBank products with banners, simply visit Bannerizer, and get the banner codes for your picked ClickBank products or use the Universal ClickBank Banner Rotator Tool to promote all of the ClickBank products.