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.
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