Side by side with 1995, Blind tasting Below the line the same rating but completely different wines. The 1997 is a typical Cal Cab from this vintage. Fullbodied, mighty with a lot of power. Fruit is still dominant, a lot of wood, but perfectly integrated alcohol, ripe and fine-grained tannins. A lively acidity, for me it will stay at this level for many years for I'M not sure it will improve. This is the difference to 1995.
1995 is elegant and not typical Cal. Many thought it could be a Bordeaux from a warmer year. The fruit is still present but more reluctant. In the foreground are cigarbox, oriental spices, mint (like Mouton and not Eukalytus like Martha's Vineyard) and pencil. 97 but with potential to 99.
Both wines are young with a very long finish and a lot of years ahead. Great wines but I would prefer the vintage 2001 Hillside select.
It may be the finest wine I have ever had. Other top wines may have a bit more upfront but this is the most well-rounded and proportioned wine I have had. I simply was in awe and couldn't put the glass down. Tasted in in a lineup of a dozen highly rated, cult wines and this far outclasses them. Simply perfect.
Decanted for 1 hour. The wine continued to open up and evolve with more air. Lots of blue and black fruit on the nose and palate. Still has lots of power and intensity. Hint of wood on the finish which faded with time in the glass and decanter. Absolutely beautiful wine and could probably get even better with more time.
Shafer's 1997 Hillside Select is a magisterial wine of epic proportions, and by some margin my favorite example of this cuvée. Seriously endowed with fine-grained tannins, it needs some time in the decanter to open up, but when it does the aromatic display of blueberry, blackberry, spring flowers and woodsmoke is magical. On the palate this wine is undeniably massive, but the savory tannins give a more classical, mineral character to the wine than one finds in, say, the more super-ripe 2002 or 2007 vintages here. The 1997 Hillside is aging very gracefully indeed, without any trace of over-ripeness or heat, and may even be a few years away from its profound best. But it is a reference point for California Cabernet, and certainly one of the wines of the vintage.
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(Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select) Opaque red violet color; lovely, blackberry, ripe cassis, black fruit nose; tasty, rich, blackberry, black currant, black fruit palate; still needs 3-plus years; long finish