The other night at our magnum party in Napa I spent a few minutes with Bill Harlan, of Harlan Estate, talking about Napa Valley wines.
As we sipped a glass of Schrader’s delicious 2005 Old Sparky, bottled the day before, we discussed the proliferation of new wine labels and what the future holds for a market that some think is teetering on being oversaturated with expensive wines.
Of course, Harlan’s wines are among the price pacesetters. Harlan Estate, the Maiden and the Matriarch, along with the wines from Harlan's sister winery, Bond, sell in the $100 to $250 range, and they are among the most sought-after wines in the world.
We also talked about wine reviews and ratings, and I was struck by a couple of his comments. There is no art without critics, Harlan said, a reference to the role wine critics pay with regards to wines. I don’t think he was being laudatory – just telling it like he sees it, and perhaps reflecting on where he is today in his career, with 15 vintages under his belt.
He also said it’s important that old wines be evaluated from time to time, since winemakers, and not just consumers, need to have their wines assessed and reassessed, a process that’s healthy for them and their businesses.
Winemakers are just as curious as everyone else about how long or well their wines will age, and there’s only one way to test that progress.
With time, he said, the truth about a wine’s quality is revealed and there’s no way a winemaker can prevent that from being discovered. Moreover, knowing what makes a great wine age, or why some wines fall short of excellence, is all part of the learning process.
Troy Peterson — Burbank, CA — June 13, 2007 6:12pm ET
Steve Lenzo — PHX, AZ — June 13, 2007 6:26pm ET
Roy Piper — Napa, CA. — June 13, 2007 7:43pm ET
Jason Thompson — Foster City, CA — June 13, 2007 8:06pm ET
Michael Myette — Sacramento, CA USA — June 13, 2007 8:55pm ET
Steve Lenzo — PHX, AZ — June 13, 2007 11:50pm ET
Totv — La Quinta, CA — June 14, 2007 2:54pm ET
John Wilen — Texas — June 14, 2007 6:19pm ET
Michael Myette — Sacramento, CA USA — June 14, 2007 8:37pm ET
Willim Tisherman — Katonah, NY — June 14, 2007 10:58pm ET
Michael Myette — Sacramento, CA USA — June 15, 2007 12:46am ET
Tim Webb — high point nc — June 15, 2007 10:57am ET
Willim Tisherman — Katonah, NY — June 15, 2007 6:40pm ET
Andrew Kiken — calistoga, ca — June 16, 2007 2:10am ET
Willim Tisherman — Katonah, NY — June 16, 2007 8:54am ET
Michael Myette — Sacramento, CA USA — June 16, 2007 12:51pm ET
Andrew Kiken — calistoga, ca — June 16, 2007 3:19pm ET
Dana Nigro — New York, NY — June 16, 2007 11:02pm ET
Willim Tisherman — Katonah, NY — June 18, 2007 8:23am ET
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