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From its perch in a remote Mayacamas Mountain canyon, Bill Harlan’s Promontory has for a decade pushed Napa Valley winemaking to its very limits. Now, the 2018 promises to create a new benchmark.
“A magnificent wine in every way. 100 rating.” Antonio Galloni
“Sure to have you picking your jaw up off the floor. 100 rating.” Lisa Perrotti-Brown
“Just a brilliant wine and a reflection of its exceptional site. 100 rating.” Jane Anson
“A thrilling wine. 100 rating.” Georgia Hindle, Decanter
“Unique. 100 rating.” James Suckling
In the last four decades, no one has come to redefine Napa Valley more than Bill Harlan. With Promontory, Harlan has yet again proven his wines in a league of their own.
Everything about Promontory is unique.
Tucked away in the Mayacamas foothills, Promontory's high-elevation vineyards are a geological museum sitting on a fault line with sedimentary, volcanic and, most importantly and rare for Napa, metamorphic soils. All these attributes combine to produce a slow-to-evolve wine with lower alcohol and brighter acidity than what we expect from Napa Valley.
By experience, Promontory’s winemakers have learned that the normal rules for making Napa Cabernet don’t apply. With slight empirical changes made each year, Montalcino-born winemaker Davide Cilli ferments in large format cement vessels and ages in Stockinger foudres, with èlevage lasting 30-36 months.
While these methods sound more like Barolo than Bordeaux, the results are some of the most transcendent expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon that exist.
The first Promontory vintage (2008) wasn't released for an astonishing seven years, as the Harlan team observed its evolution. Then it took just five years for Promontory's 2013 vintage to become 2019's most widely traded American wine on the UK's LivEx, eclipsing even the most established Cult Cabs.
Promontory’s power in the marketplace has only continued to grow. And now, with the 2018 vintage receiving 100-point ratings from five top critics, that can only accelerate.
These are its reviews:
Antonio Galloni: “100 rating … another riveting wine … nothing short of spectacular … A wine of stature and breadth, the 2018 covers every corner of the palate. Beguiling aromatics and precise, sculpted tannins - so hard to achieve in a mountain wine - round things off in style. Dark fruit, gravel, spice, licorice and leather add subtle layers of nuance. Today, the 2018 comes across as a more refined version of the 2016. It is a magnificent wine in every way.”
Jane Anson: “100 rating … just a brilliant wine and a reflection of its exceptional site. This is elegant and precise while still delivering muscular, powerful flavours. I first tasted it at the property last November, and it's reassuring to see it make exactly the same impression when retasted back in Bordeaux, away from the awe-inspiring landscape.”
Lisa Perrotti-Brown: “100 rating … soars with bold black fruits—warm cassis, blackberry pie, and chocolate-covered cherries … the palate is super intense … finishing incredibly long and mineral-laced … a wine of such singular expression and evocative beauty it’s sure to have you picking your jaw up off the floor.”
Georgina Hindle, Decanter: “100 rating. Gorgeous blackcurrant bramble fruit tones on the nose. A hint of plum, juniper, allspice, cinnamon, pepper and violets. Stylish and compelling, a real sense of purity from the first mouthful … the subtle density and quiet muscular power gives the base and focus … A thrilling wine that really shines and is all the more likeable because it's not showing off or shouting too loudly. Liquorice and tar end the wine on a savoury note, suggesting long cellaring and long ageing potential. I love it. A class above.”
James Suckling: “100 rating … Violets and blueberries with cloves and pine cones, following through to a medium to full body with tight, seamless tannins, like finely cut diamonds. It’s very closed and reserved at the end. Weightless. Needs plenty of time to open. Unique wine. Better after 2027.”
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