Shafer Hillside Select Vertical Dinner (1989-2002)

California Club, Los Angeles, CA

Tasted April 28, 2007 by Paul Lin with 883 views

Flight 1 - Champagne Reception (1 note)

Various hors d'oeuvres, including caviar and crème fraiche on new potatoes

White - Sparkling
N.V. Pol Roger Champagne Brut Réserve France, Champagne
88 points
A nice way to start the evening. Pear and toasted almond notes. Steeliness on the finish.

Flight 2 - First Course (4 notes)

Sautéed scallops on wilted spinach topped with Champagne beurre blanc sauce and caviar

White
2002 Kongsgaard Chardonnay USA, California, Napa Valley
flawed
This may have been an off bottle, but one could not tell from the nose. Nutty aromas layered with citrus oil. On the palate, however, the wine shows pretty thin and flat. Vestiges of grapefruit and pineapple remain, but only on the attack. No finish whatsoever. Hard to say, but my feeling is that this wine may be heat damaged or past its prime. No rating, but if the latter, then maybe 84 points.
White
2003 Kongsgaard Chardonnay USA, California, Napa Valley
92 points
A really beautiful and elegant wine, and a significant improvement over the 2002. Marshmallow cream and candied orange peel on the nose. On the palate, delicate notes of peaches, orange marmalade, and honey. A real standout this wine is, and well worth its cult status.
White
2004 Kongsgaard Chardonnay USA, California, Napa Valley
90 points
I think what distinguishes a Kongsgaard from other Napa Valley chardonnays is its elegance and finesse. Another very good wine, although quite different from the 2003. Notes of poached pear, popcorn (not the burnt variety), and tropical fruits. Good acidity. Slight toastiness on the finish.
White
2004 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge USA, California, Napa Valley
91 points
Another very good chardonnay, but to be honest, I really don't get it. Very similar to the regular bottling -- same notes of poached pears and tropical fruits. The main difference, however, was the texture, which was glycerol-like in its viscosity. Not sure the unctuousness warrants the price of this wine, but it was very nice to drink.

Flight 3 - Second Course (3 notes)

Pan roasted northern halibut, braised salsifis and Enoki mushrooms with black truffle polenta

Red
1989 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
82 points
This wine is past its prime IMO, as the secondary characteristics have completely eclipsed whatever sense of fruit there may have been. Nose of leather, cedar, and jalapeño pepper. Tar, wood, and acid on the palate.
Red
1991 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
91 points
My favorite of the flight, as people noticed by pointing out my empty glass. It was the only one of the flight that I finished. Silky and refined, with plush notes of currant, tobacco, and orange peel. Drinking extremely well now, with no need to hold any longer.
Red
1992 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
89 points
This seemed more mature than the 1991, which we had out of a magnum. Don't have a lot of notes on this one, but I do remember it being elegant and balanced.

Flight 4 - Third Course (3 notes)

Boneless rack of lamb "St. Hubert"

Red
1996 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
92 points
I have come to the conclusion that I prefer my cabs on the young side, and this flight is where the Hillside Select starts to turn a corner for me. It is this flight where I start to get it. Mature flavors of cassis and cedar dovetail nicely with some youthful black cherry and dark chocolate. Drinking perfectly right now.
Red
1997 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
94 points
This wine proudly shows the strength of the vintage in the hands of a talented winemaker. Beautiful layers of cassis and red current (perfect match with the red currents in the lamb sauce BTW). Silky texture. Finishes with a hint of cedar, black tea, and mocha. A wonderful wine!
Red
1999 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
93 points
I thought this was very similar to the 1997, with its cassis and red currant flavors. A bit more acidity than the 1997, however, and not quite as polished. Still, an excellent wine.

Flight 5 - Fourth Course (3 notes)

Assortment of French cheeses

Red
2001 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
96 points
I thought this wine had a bit more depth than the 2002. Still very young, and quite structured, this massive wine was packed with cassis, blackberry, tobacco, and dark chocolate. A huge bruiser of a wine, but I loved it, absolutely loved it! This was for me the WOTN and the reason the Shafer HSS ranks among the best wines of the world.
Red
2002 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
95 points
This was drinking better than the 2001, but I don't think it will go the distance that the 2001 will. Surprisingly mature for its youth, with dazzling cassis, blackberry, and cedar notes. Creamy dark chocolate finish sails on forever. A decadent wine for a decadent evening.
Red
2001 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Anniversary SunSpot Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
95 points
A delicious wine that seemed a bit more ripe and fleshy than the 2001 Hillside Select. Plush like the 2002 HSS.

Flight 6 - Dessert Course (2 notes)

Petit Fours and Mignardises

White - Sweet/Dessert
1988 Château Rabaud-Promis France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
93 points
They have these mango and pineapple empanadas at Starbucks, and this is wine kind of reminds me of that. Rich and creamy, with lingering flavors of dried apricots and honey.
White - Sweet/Dessert
2001 Château Suduiraut France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
95 points
Rich and decadant, with just the right amount of acidity to balance out the sweetness. Dried pineapple, fresh apricots, and toffee flavors. Nice spice on the finish. To quote Andrea Immer, WOW!