2010 Wm. Harrison Vineyards & Winery, Rutherford Red, Estate Grown, Napa Valley.
This time of year, and this year’s Covid restrictions, brings reflection and enough time to put thoughts to the keyboard with that I’ve been exploring some classically style wines and regions that I sometimes just ignore for whatever reasons, but do deserve a look in now and again, with Napa Valley being one of those special wine growing places that produces some of the world’s most desirable wines. One of the wineries I’ve grown very fond of over the years is the Wm. Harrison Estate on the Silverado Trail in the historic Rutherford AVA in a quieter, less traveled part of Napa Valley that I really enjoy visiting and well known for their famous single varietal Cabernet Franc, which I almost always purchase when up there at the property. This review is for their top wine, the Wm. Harrison Estate Rutherfold Red, which is a traditional meritage blend in the mold of (the) Joseph Phelps Insignia and Opus One, which shows densely packed layers of black fruits and a warm kiss of new French oak and accented by elegant floral notes, spices and lingering creme de cassis with blackberries, plum, dark cherries and blueberries filling out the rich full bodied palate along with touches of anise, cedar, minty sage, shredded tobacco leaf, loamy mineral notes, coca nibs and crushed violets. Vintages, like this 2010, delivers structure and a slightly cooler tone and a brighter sensation in the mouth, it is a vintage, much like 2014 that ranks way up there as one of my favorite Napa years to drink. I really enjoy tasting at the Wm. Harrison Vineyards and Winery, which celebrated its 25th anniversary two years ago, with its rustic old California look and casual setting, in particular when there are ripening grapes on the vines.
The Wm. Harrison “Rutherford Red” is estate’s premier bottling, it is made using the winemaker’s favorite barrels of best selection of separately vinified grapes usually containing the historic five Bordeaux varieties, and is 100% estate grown. This wine, with sweet tannins and notable Rutherfold dust character is hand crafted with the best lots of Cabernet Sauvignon, and as the winery notes, forms the foundation of the Rutherford Red, adding that about 25% of this wine includes small doses of Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and their famous Cabernet Franc. The actual blend is different from year to year to produce the best possible expression of the Harrison’s vineyard, depending on the nature of the vintage. The darkly purple and opaque Cabernet Sauvignon, which makes up the backbone of the Rutherford Red, comes from the Wm, Harrison’s “old” parcels planted in 1991 and the “young” vines block of Clone 7 that got planted in 1997, that the winery says produce the estate’s best grapes. The prettiness and evocative side of this wine is usually its Cabernet Franc which is grown on the westernmost block of the property, where there is a high percentage of decomposed volcanic ash that gives the original Bear Creek loam soils a light color and provides the wine an aromatic pop and a spicy kick. Everything in the cellar is pretty normal with the wine being blended from selected barrels that typically aged for 20 months in, as mentioned, mostly new, toasty sweet and delicately smoky French oak. There is loads of opulent fruit here in this 2010, but it is still nicely lively, making for polished and rewarding wine that even when I first tasted it back in 2014, but is certainly better now, especially with hearty cuisine. For a Napa Cab based wine, the price is reasonable, considering the quality in the bottle when compared to some of Wm. Harrison’s neighbors.
($85 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive