May 22, 2016 - Harlan + Friends Intro Retro (Whitehead's, Northbrook, IL): Deep dark ruby. Big, full nose is quite un-evolved and brutish with plummy fruit and notions of earth/tobacco. Palate brings the power with richer fruit and grippy tannin. Flavor-wise this is relatively un-evolved. But texturally, I enjoy the power and interplay of fruit, tannin and acid. Well balanced. Fun to drink. My #4, Group #7.
May 7, 2016 - First pour from a Coravin. This wine showed really young. The nose was dominated by blackberry and cassis, with oaky notes and vanilla. It had a Bordeaux-like austerity. The palate was fruit driven but structured, with a surprising amount of bitter tannins that somewhat smoothed out over a couple hours in the glass. This wine was clearly young and has a long way to go. It is not what I expected from a Harlan wine, which by all accounts is supposedly a "sweet fruit bomb".
More interestedly, I actually blind tasted this wine against the 2001 Harlan Grand Vin. That wine was more openly fruity on the palate, with more complexity and more appeal. It was also smoother and less tannic. The Harlan was easier to like now, and I actually incorrectly guessed it was the Maiden because of its openness and softness. While I preferred the Grand Vin, the difference was far too small considering the price gap.
March 24, 2016 - Not showing much personality. Balanced with nothing out of place, but somehow I wanted more. All spit and polish. Whereas most wines in this 2001 California Cab tasting showed lots of structure, with many wines needing more time, this one didn't have those attributes. It was pleasant, and it may not sound that way, but I liked it.
December 26, 2015 - Nice an elegant. Silky smooth with vanilla and oak. Medium long finish.
August 14, 2015 - What first hit me about this wine straight out of the bottle and into the decanter is that it has a strong flavor of fennel seed in the late body too early finish. As the wind developed, this is a dark brooding fruit wine with volcanic middle reality sitting in the body. There are some aromatics like the fennel that persist but become more diffuse and multilayered as the wind breeze. I think this one will drink for another decade. Sadly I don't have another bottle to drink over that time.
July 12, 2015 - Not the best bottle of this. Seemed heavy and a bit tart. Did not have the purity and complexity of the best bottles. No score.
March 29, 2015 - Fun wine, and showed its pedigree. But in the end was a disappointment.
March 10, 2015 - 2 hr decant, wine was spectacular. Had a 6th bottling of abacus after it, maiden held its own. Kept getting better
September 20, 2014 - Deep garnet in color with glint of ox blood on edge. Nose of blueberry, graphite, and hint of leather. Tastes of cassis, blueberry, cocoa, and tobacco. Opened with very dry oaky note that shed after a couple hours of decanting. Still evolving. Should evolve for another 3-5 years.
May 17, 2014 - I thought the wine showed too much alcohol and too little fruits drank two years ago. This showed a lot better.
Pop and pour and over three nights. Noticeable dusty note in the nose then cassis, blueberry jam, plum, a hint of oak and alcohol, cocoa, graphite, cappuccino and earth. Very good concentration not great, round and silky palate, cassis driven sweet fruit palate impression, earth/dust, strong presence of acidity and still noticeable but not obtrusive tannins. On third day, a hint of oxidative note at the end. IMO, some similarity to the Harlan but not as polished and layered. If you look for old school freshness, you won’t find it here.
My ratings tend to be quite close +-2 points but not in this case. A few different possibilities; bottle variation, two additional years of cellaring really helped or my impression varied drastically.
I highly recommend decanting for three to four hours as it drank the best on the second day.