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March 02, 2015

BOND Estate 2012

harlan (1)

The 2012 and 2013 vintages in Napa are emerging as all time classics, with parallels being drawn to the 2009 and 2010 vintages in Bordeaux. Parker claims, ‘Both vintages are clearly the two greatest years for North Coast Bordeaux varietals – and probably Chardonnay as well – since the wonderful duo of 2001 and 2002.’  As such we are delighted to be able to offer the extremely rare Bond Estate 2012s, the stellar project of Bill Harlan which, taken together, threaten to usurp his world beating Harlan Proprietary blend. Less than 500 cases are made of each wine a year, and these only go to the winery’s private client list – making this offer exclusive indeed!

This marks our inaugural release of a small allocation of the BOND Estate Terroir Packs, which contain one bottle, or magnum of each wine, including two potential 100 pointers. The Terroir pack is special, giving collectors the chance to compare each of the vineyards and is only being offered to those on the private allocations list and now you! In addition we can offer the exceptional Quella and Pluribus as single bottles or magnums. Bill Harlan’s wines are globally sought after and his BOND Estates are rising in price quickly. The 2012 vintage is potentially the greatest ever in Napa Valley and one to stock up on. However, it is the composition of the BOND Estate Vineyards that make them so collectible; let us explore this in greater detail:

Can one winemaker produce more than one exceptional wine, renowned throughout the world, year after year?  Burgundy, Barolo and Super Tuscan enthusiasts will wholeheartedly agree: Rousseau can produce an exquisite Chambertin, Clos St. Jacques, and Clos de Beze in any vintage, as can Gaja from his single vineyard Barbarescos or the Tenuta di Ornellaia with its eponymous flagship wine and Masseto. So, too, can Bill Harlan of Napa Valley, a wine region which has historically modelled itself more after Bordeaux, not just with its blend of grapes, but also with its chateau-esque wineries producing just one flagship Cabernet.

Leave it to a man such as Harlan, owner of Harlan Estate — which is itself in the elite upper echelon of Napa Valley wines — to do in less than two decades what winemakers in Burgundy have done for centuries: produce world-class wines showcasing the unique terroir of each carefully selected, lovingly-farmed, single, jewel-box vineyard. The name of this endeavour is BOND. No, not James Bond, but Bond as in Bill Harlan’s mother’s maiden name as well as the bond between winemaker and farmer and the trust each must put in the other to grow grapes of the utmost quality and turn them into a supreme wine.

It was Harlan Estate which led to the founding of BOND; the former was founded in 1984 and, while searching for sources of fruit for his namesake winery, Bill Harlan and his wine-making team bought fruit from an additional 60 vineyards. He made wine from these vineyards, tasted and tested them, and narrowed them down to see what was worthy of being blended into Harlan Estate.  A side result was that a few of the single vineyard wines were considered distinctive enough to be bottled separately, but that went directly against Bill’s concept of what Harlan Estate stood for; the Bordeaux model of one flagship Cabernet.  And thus BOND was born.

Bill had a vision of six Grand Cru vineyards producing six separate BOND wines.  In 1997, 60 potential vineyards were narrowed down to 27. By 1999, only two vineyards were deemed worthy of being ‘Grand Cru’ Napa status: Vecina and Melbury.  In 2001, after four years of making dozens of separate wines from various vineyards, only one more vineyard was deemed worthy of joining the lineup: St. Eden, which received a perfect 100 point score from Robert Parker upon its initial release. The 2002 also scored a perfect 100 from Parker.

Bill Harlan and his team continue to make wine from vineyards waiting to make the final cut.  Over the past 13 years, only two more vineyards have been added: Quella and Pluribus. After 18 years of growing, tasting, and testing various sites, Bill Harlan and his team – incidentally, the same vineyard and winemaking team which makes the famed Harlan Proprietary Red — has settled on an elite five ‘Grand Cru’ Napa vineyards…for now. Painstaking viticultural methods are used; 55 full-time vineyard workers hand-pick perfect clusters of fruit off Napa mountainside slopes of 30 degrees and wine is made from each of them as though it were to be bottled and sold commercially.

The Five ‘Grand Cru’ Vineyards of BOND:

Vecina was the first Grand Cru selected by Harlan.  The Spanish word for ‘neighbour’, this vineyard is situated directly southeast of the Bond winery on the western side of the Valley in Oakville and produces a wine of power and intensity, with savoury notes and dark blackberry fruit. ‘The 2012 Proprietary Red Blend Vecina reveals notes of Asian soy sauce, spice, new saddle leather, scorched earth, blackberry and cassis. There is always something primordial about this particular cuvée, and the 2012 is muscular, backward and impressively endowed. It will be one of the few 2012s that will require patience. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2040.’ 96-99 points, Parker

Melbury is named after Melbury Road in London, where the vineyard owners reside when they’re not enjoying the Napa sunshine.  The vineyard is high on the hills on the east side of the Valley and the wine is characterized by its elegance, with plush red fruits, violets, and spice.  ‘A different animal altogether from its older sibling is the super-well-endowed 2012 Melbury Proprietary Red Blend. It possesses an opaque blue/purple color as well as sweet notes of blueberry and blackberry liqueur, camphor, vanilla, licorice and a hint of acacia flowers. Beautiful fruit, opulence and richness define this voluptuously textured, full-bodied vintage. This 2012 should drink well for 25-30 years. 94-97 points, Robert Parker

Quella is named after the German word for a pristine natural source of water. The vineyard is planted in the eastern side of the valley on the famed Pritchard Hill which is an ancient riverbed of cobble and rocks with pockets of volcanic ash.  The wines are noted for their ethereal quality of blue fruit and graphite. ‘A provocative effort that is a potential candidate for perfection is the 2012 Quella Proprietary Red Blend from Pritchard Hill, a site that tends to produce wines of great delineation, precision and perfume. This opulent, full-bodied effort reveals fabulous fruit, freshness and focus as well as super depth, and an extravagantly rich mouthfeel without being heavy or over-the-top. A sensational wine, it should drink well for three decades.’ 98-100 pts, Robert Parker

St. Eden is located north of the Bond winery in Oakville and references the Napa Valley region’s designation on historical maps of the area.  The red, rocky soil of the vineyard contributes to the minerality of the wines, which reliably demonstrate crème de cassis, dark chocolate, and roasted herbs The 2012 Proprietary Red Blend St. Eden exhibits notes of new saddle leather, charcoal, loamy, earthy undertones, great depth, a full-bodied mouthfeel and terrific richness. Its softness and precocious style suggest it will be drinkable in 3-4 years and last for 25+’.  96-98+ points, Robert Parker

Pluribus is named after the Latin word for ‘many’, chosen to signify the many facets involved in making a fine wine; from earth to man to Mother Nature.  Perched high on Spring Mountain on the north western side of Napa Valley, the vineyard is on a steep slope of volcanic bedrock.  The wines are consistently bold and concentrated with dark plum, roasted coffee, and cedar.
‘A candidate for perfection, the 2012 Proprietary Red Blend Pluribus comes across like a great St.-Estèphe such as Cos d’Estournel. Beautiful earthy, loamy soil notes intermixed with hints of spring flowers, melted licorice, blackcurrants and blackberries are found in this full-throttle, extravagantly rich, voluptuously textured, full-bodied 2012. Enjoy this stunning elixir over the next 25-30 years.’ 96-100 points, Robert Parker

Terroir Packs 5×75 (one bottle of each) – £1,500 IB
Terroir Packs 5×150 (one magnum of each) – £3,125 IB
Vecina 96-99, Melbury, 94-97, Quella 98-100,
St. Eden 96-98+, Pluribus 96-100 Pts Parker
Quella 2012, 3×75 - £950 IB
Quella 2012, 1×150 - £650 IB
Pluribus 2012, 3×75 - £950 IB
Pluribus 2012, 1×150 - £650 IB

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