The Harlan family debuts The Mascot in Hong Kong
Amanda Harlan and Anthony Mendelson talk to db about The Mascot wine brand and their vision for its Hong Kong debut.
Debuted in Hong Kong, in partnership with Omtis Fine Wines in 2021, The Mascot is a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon made from the younger vines (those between 5 and12 years of age) of three of the most prestigious winegrowing properties in the region: Harlan Estate, Bond, and Promontory. The wine is produced using the same winegrowing practices as those from the parent properties, ensuring that it remains true to its heritage while also offering a glimpse into the future of these storied vineyards.
The Mascot had humble beginnings as an experimental project for second-generation family member Will Harlan. He convinced his parents and winemaking teams to lend him a few barrels of wine from the young vines of the three properties and began exploring his own blend. In 2008, the first official vintage was produced in limited quantities and shared among friends and family. Since then, Will has worked tirelessly with his winemaking teams to perfect the harmony of energy and depth in The Mascot.
Amanda Harlan, who works closely with her brother Will at The Mascot, shares her thoughts on the significance of the pedigree of the vines used to create this youthful expression: “This actually offers a unique glimpse into the development of the estate wines, giving insight into the winemaking practices and approaches toward the young vines.”’
To continuously improve their vineyards, the winemaking team replants 2% of their vineyards every year—which amounts to complete replanting twice each century—thus ensuring a consistent average vine age. In addition, the winegrowing team farms each vine at an individual level, understanding that each vine, like each person, is distinctive and has unique needs. This dedication to their craft is evident in The Mascot, which showcases the energetic and expressive qualities of young vines while still maintaining its depth and longevity.
The Mascot has evolved from a wine made for family and friends to a wine that is now available to the world. Amanda sees this introduction as an opportunity to engage with patrons, both existing and new, who are passionate and curious about fine wine and winegrowing. The Mascot represents the story of young vines, and the team behind it is excited to share it with a wider audience.
The Mascot’s director, Anthony Mendelson, is also passionate about the winery’s approach to the environment and sustainability. He believes that the winery should work with the land as friends and use it as a catalyst for reforestation and other environmental initiatives.
“We have been practicing dry farming for the past 15 years, which has allowed us to better understand the land and prepare their vines for the growing season.”
“The decades-long aging potential shown in our family wines, starting from the first vintage of Harlan Estate in 1990, demonstrates Napa’s signature great tannin structure,” says Anthony. The goal for The Mascot is to offer an approachable young wine while still retaining its aging potential, with great structure, tannins, and balance.
Despite the pedigree and careful farming, each vintage presents its own story. The 2017 vintage, Anthony explains: “was exciting but also a trying year in Napa, as the area was affected by wildfires. Fortunately, we were able to pick most of the fruit prior to the fire, and our winegrowing team learn a great deal from the experience.”
The 2018 season presented a completely different scenario. “The spring and summer months,” says Anthony, “were notable for their lack of remarkable events. Well-timed and plentiful rainfall in March and April were followed by mild conditions from June to August. Our greatest difficulty was deciding in September whether to begin the harvest or to wait. But the depth of expression in the fruit of the young vines persuaded us to begin, and we were pleased with this decision as we tasted the resulting wines for the first time. To me, The Mascot’s 2018 release is the best yet as we have learned so much through our previous releases.”
Amanda reflects on her experience of being a part of the family business and working with her brother to create something new and meaningful. She thinks the collaboration has provided a fresh perspective, enabling them to add value in ways that were previously undiscovered. Her brother’s innovative spirit has brought the family’s succession plan, envisioned by their father, to fruition. It has been a rewarding journey for Amanda, who is grateful for the chance to be a part of such an important legacy.
Exclusively imported by Omtis Fine Wines, The Mascot 2018 is now available in Hong Kong for HKD 1,725 at retail. The wines are also available in selected private members clubs, 5-star hotels and restaurants.