Shafer Hillside Select Vertical Dinner (1989-2002)
California Club, Los Angeles, CA
Tasted April 28, 2007 by Paul Lin with 1,212 views
Flight 1 - Champagne Reception (1 note)
Various hors d'oeuvres, including caviar and crème fraiche on new potatoes
Flight 2 - First Course (4 notes)
Sautéed scallops on wilted spinach topped with Champagne beurre blanc sauce and caviar
2002 Kongsgaard Chardonnay
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.
2003 Kongsgaard Chardonnay
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.
2004 Kongsgaard Chardonnay
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.
2004 Kongsgaard Chardonnay The Judge
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
1989 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select
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.
1991 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select
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.
Flight 4 - Third Course (3 notes)
Boneless rack of lamb "St. Hubert"
1996 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select
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.
1997 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select
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!
Flight 5 - Fourth Course (3 notes)
Assortment of French cheeses
2001 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select
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.
2002 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select
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.
Flight 6 - Dessert Course (2 notes)
Petit Fours and Mignardises
White - Sweet/Dessert
2001 Château Suduiraut
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!
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