I find it so refreshing to actually be able to put a face and a name to a wine. Forget the multi-million dollar marketing budgets and gorgeous labels. Give me a friendly smile at a wine event and a name tag that says "owner/winemaker." That's exactly what you'll find if you attend a tasting event where Lyndsey Harrison is pouring her wines.
Like more than a few of the small production winemakers whose juice I enjoy, Lyndsey and her late husband Michael were first landowners and then vintners. They purchased their Harrison Vineyard estate on Pritchard Hill overlooking Lake Hennesey in Napa which happened to be planted with 17 acres of mature Cabernet and Chardonnay vines. The previous owners had been in the habit of selling their grapes on the market and the Harrisons, who had no intention of becoming winemakers, decided to do the same. Over the years, with encouragement from new friends in Napa, they gradually dipped their toes into the barrel, so to speak, and starting in 1989 began to produce wines that were critically acclaimed.
Now, 15 years later Harrison Vineyards is one of Napa's most acclaimed family run vineyards. Lyndsey has spent a lot of time working in the wine industry, and has the help of some big name consulting winemakers, but she still treats her wine and the vineyard as very much her own project, attending tastings and talking with the people who buy and drink her wine.
The production on this vintage was a mere 750 cases, all from Cabernet grown on her Pritchard Hill estate, aged in 100% French oak.
Garnet red in the glass, this wine has a nose dominated by chocolate and ripe cherry with some hints of blueberry. In the mouth the wine starts very tight with some green stemmy elements that give way to dark cherry and blackberry flavors. This is a dense, chewy wine that has a nice medium finish, and it improves immensely with time and air. I would suggest decanting it for a couple of hours before drinking. (After a night in the fridge it was still drinking very well.)
Lyndsey recommends serving this wine with a recipe from her website called La Mazille's Lamb.
Overall Score: 8
I get mine through Porthos. Incidentally, I have barrell tasted the 2001 and it is amazing. If you have the opportunity to pick some up, it's well worth it.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
Warm Up: The North Fork of Long Island I'll Drink to That: Kareem Massoud of Paumanok Vineyards 2015 Family Winemakers Tasting: August 16, San Francisco I'll Drink to That: Ryan Looper of T. Edward Wines Lost Treasures in the Sierra Foothills: The Wines of Renaissance Vineyards Warm Up: The Wachau I'll Drink to That: Leo Alzinger of Weingut Alzinger Petaluma Gap Wine Tasting: August 8th, Petaluma, CA I'll Drink to That: Monica Samuels of Vine Connections Vinography Images: Cool Climate Chardonnay
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune