Winter leading into the 2019 growing season delivered impressive rainfall (nearly 30 inches in the first four months) that lasted into May. The cool, wet spring delayed budbreak; yet this respite in a sequence of mostly arid years imbued the young vines with renewed energy. This potential for vigor required thor- ough and thoughtful pruning, early in the season, to ensure that energy would be most nobly directed: to maturing the fruit. Early autumn was met with even and steady warmth, and picking commenced in mid-September and stretched across five and a half weeks. This “leisurely” approach allowed for collection of the fruit in precise, well-delineated passes, and the wine extracted from these berries confirmed our deci- sion to, in places, wait a little longer. The wine is beauti- fully supple with a broadly fanned aromatic spectrum and an effortless depth of fruit. From a center point on the palate, the 2019 vintage undulates outward in all directions. Gentle, velvety swells pause and fold in on themselves, their liquid whorls of refined tannin and gratifying acidity gliding across the surface of smooth curves before retreating gradually to reveal, on the finish, the burnished dimensions beneath.
The Mascot is a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon made from distinct hillside vineyards: specifically, the younger vines of Harlan Estate, BOND, and Promontory. Founded by Will Harlan, it began as a small, informal project shared among the family, the winemaking team, and a handful of close friends. Drawing fruit from recently replanted blocks within the vineyards, The Mascot reveals its distinguished pedigree while offering insight into the evolution of its parent properties: a youthful promise of their future.
Each of the three “parent” properties contributes components to The Mascot, and the winemaking teams – led by Cory Empting, Director of Winegrowing for the family domain – work collaboratively to weave together the final blend.
Depending on the vintage, The Mascot is composed of 85-95% Cabernet Sauvignon, along with small quantities of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.
The Mascot is crafted from the younger vines of the three parent properties. Within the Napa Valley, hillside vineyards make up a miniscule percentage of planted acreage. The Harlan family has spent the past 40 years identifying the very finest and rarest of these sites.
The vines that contribute to The Mascot average from 5 to 12 years of age. As the vines of the parent properties are replanted approximately twice per century—or the equivalent of around 2% of acreage per year—the supply of young vines is continually replenished. Many young vines are beginning to manifest now; as a result of replanting at Harlan Estate and BOND starting more than a decade ago, and at Promontory since it was acquired in 2008.
The winemaking teams vinify the grapes from each property in accordance with the character of their land. For aging the wines, Harlan Estate and BOND use new and neutral French oak barrels, while Promontory employs larger casks made of Austrian oak.
The winemaking teams evaluate the young-vine lots at the blending table between 6 and 14 months after fermentation, selecting the finest for inclusion in The Mascot. In total, The Mascot is aged in barrel for nearly three years prior to bottling and another 18 months in bottle prior to release.