Tasting at Shafer

Shafer Vineyards

Tasted May 8, 2014 by AllRed with 330 views


Domino and I both enjoy Shafer very much as the wines and people there are terrific. They run a first class operation and always take care of us. As such, we always try to make sure we schedule a visit when we are in the area. This was our third visit to the property and our most special one yet, in part from sharing the experience with M/M thelostverse, but also because of our time spent with Elias. The tasting fees, normally $55/person, were waived as Domino and I are both on the HSS list (but I feel it is worth a visit even at full price). John stopped by the tasting and spent a few minutes with the group- always a pleasure to see him.

Flight 1 (1 note)

Prior to the afternoon tasting, we were extremely fortunate to be the beneficiaries of yet another example of the generous nature of the folks at Shafer. We met with Elias Fernandez, who took us on a tour of the facilities and poured a sample of the 2011 Hillside Select from tank, just a few days before it was to be bottled. He explained that in 2011 Shafer acquired an optical sorter which was used during harvest that year. Individual grapes that were less than ideal could not sneak in to the tanks, and I believe the result shows in the glass. Prior to our visit we had heard much about the less than ideal 2011 vintage, but there were no issues with the 2011s we tasted here- the HSS and Merlot were both wonderful wines and I am happy that we have the Merlot in the cellar already, and look forward to receiving the HSS in the fall of 2015. Back on topic, thank you to Elias for your time with us, and to Ron for reaching out.

2011 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
97 points
Sampled from tank as the wine is scheduled to be bottled the week of May 12th. Deep inky crimson color with aromas of cassis, black cherry, vanilla and incense. Develops floral and blue fruit qualities with air. Tannins are firm but very fine and not obtrusive. There's plenty of fruit for the structure this wine has. Balanced and dare I say even elegant for being so young. Another terrific wine from Elias and his team.

Flight 2 (6 notes)

We tasted through the usual lineup of wines beginning with the Chardonnay. The Chardonnay, Merlot and HSS were for me, the highlights.

2012 Shafer Chardonnay Red Shoulder Ranch USA, California, Napa / Sonoma, Carneros
92 points
Light yellow color with aromas of banana and tropical fruit turning to lemon zest and honeysuckle. Lovely fruit and balance of wood on the palate- subtle coconut tones along with apple, stone and floral notes. Finishes very well; balanced, with nice underlying acidity. Approximately 20-25% is aged in stainless.
2011 Shafer Merlot USA, California, Napa Valley
92 points
A touch of malbec is blended in with the Merlot in most vintages. Bright red color with notes of cherry, vanilla, currants, florals and chocolate. The palate is very pretty and well-balanced with fruit, structure and acidity. Red fruit and vanilla flavors- bright and lively. 91-93 pts.
2011 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon One Point Five USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
88 points
Always a blend dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon with the other components being Petit Verdot and Malbec in varying proportions. Aromas of lavender, cassis, vanilla and black fruits. Structured and firm with flavors of chocolate, plums, cassis, vanilla and spice. There's a slight hollow spot on the midpalate but I suspect it will flesh out in time. 88-89 pts.
2010 Shafer Relentless USA, California, Napa Valley
90 points
The vineyard (La Mesa) from which Relentless is made is planted to 80% Syrah and 20% Petite Sirah though the composition of the finished wine varies in proportion based on the quality of the fruit. The 2010 is 96% Syrah and 4% Petite. Black fruit dominates, with floral and roasted meat undertones. Typical for a young Relentless, this is structured and firm and features black fruit, leather, meat and blackberry qualities with vanilla, spice and blue fruit notes on the finish. Drink from 2020+. 90+ pts.
5 people found this helpful Comment
2009 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
98 points
This is a stellar vintage of HSS, wow. Opens with floral notes- lavender & dried rose petals- followed by vanilla, cassis, black cherry, and blue fruit notes with very subtle fresh tobacco and saddle leather aromas. As expected this is firm and structured, yet has an elegance and remains balanced across the palate and finish. Flavors of cassis, incense, black cherry, vanilla and spices with a nice herbal undertone. Terrific balance; long, lingering finish. Drink from 2019+. 98+ pts.
1 person found this helpful Comment
Red - Fortified
2009 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Port USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
89 points
Notes of chocolate, plum, cassis and blueberry. Full-bodied and chalky tannins and flavors of cassis, brown sugar and chocolate. Lingering finish.


Many thanks to the Shafer team and our friend Ron for making this a truly special and memorable afternoon.

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