Tasting Note: Shafer Vineyards 2008 One Point Five


1. Introduction:
Shafer´s One Point Five pays homage to John and Doug Shafer´s long term father-and-son partnership in the winery. Instead of one generation handing over the business to the following, father and son work hand in hand at Shafer since 1983 and tell their successful “Generation and a half story.”
Most of the fruit for this Cabernet Sauvignon dominated wine comes from the Borderline Vineyard on the edge of Stags Leap District and is added by some fruit from the Hillside Estate vineyard.
Our 2008 One Point Five bottling is flawless (bottle and cork). 15,1% alc.

2. Appearance:
Garnet, inky colored with an almost black core.
Very dense and vital!

3. Nose:
Ripe Dark Fruit and Berries. Stewed Fruit.
Beautiful Floral traces (Roses and Lilac) with Fresh Eucalypt and Herbs.
Sweet Vanilla, Tar, Dark Chocolate and Tobacco. Little traces of Smoke.
Decent Spiciness.
Complex, attractive, intense and inviting aromatics!

4. Taste:
Powerful Dark Fruit; Blue and Black Berries, Cherries and little Plum.
Some Herbal Spiciness. Hints of Lilac and Violets. Earthy characteristics.
Soft and warm mouthfeel. Perfectly round tannins and refreshing acidity.
Finishes soft, warm and very long with a ton of Dark Fruit (Black Cherry!),
Soft Tannins and Decent Peppery Spiciness.
Greatly structured, multi-layered and delicious!

5. Opinion:
Intense and rich, but harmonious, balanced and round wine!
It is still very young, but already very drinkable with beautiful finesse, complexity and drive.
This should evolve for another 10 to 20 years easily.


Tasting Note: Shafer 2009 Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay


1. Introduction:
After tasting Shafer´s 2008 Red Shoulder Ranch in this Blog a few months ago, it is now time to try the 2009.
The Red Shoulder Ranch vineyard in the Carneros region offers a long, consistently cool growing season, which is ideal for retaining acidity in Chardonnay fruit.
Shafer uses only wild yeast for fermentation and does not put the wine through malolactic fermentation to focus on the varietal flavors.
Another perfect bottle in condition with a healthy cork. 14,9% alc.

2. Appearance:
Golden- yellow in the glass. Vibrant and bright.

3. Nose:
Ripe Stone and Tropical Fruits, with Peach, Apricot, Pineapple, Melon and little Citrus.
Honey and hints of Lilac. Some spicy Soft Cheese. Mineral notes.
Rich, but precise and filigree!

4. Taste:
Accurate, fresh Fruit forward. Again, Peach, Pineapple and also little Banana.
Beautiful Herbal Spiciness and dancing Acidity and Minerality.
Finishes long, but cautious, with nice, crisp Fruit, Minerality, Acidity and little Pepperiness.
Very elegant with a fresh and comforting mouthfeel!

5. Opinion:
Great balance and proportions deliver a wine that is very intense and rich, but very filigree and precise, too. Great play of fruit, freshness and complexity.
The relatively high alcohol percentage (14,9%) is not noticeable at all.
Beautiful and, due to its fineness, a little better than the 2008. Cheers!


Tasting Note: Shafer Vineyards 1996 Hillside Select


1. Introduction:
Like last year and the year before, when Robert M. Parker, Jr. re-evaluated the 2001 and accordingly the 2002 Hillside Select, he has just awarded Shafer’s 2003 Hillside Select a score of 100pts in his recent retrospective tasting of 2003 in Napa Valley Cabernets, too.
Made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Shafer´s Hillside Estate Vineyard, Hillside Select is considered to be among the best wines from Napa Valley.
Let´s have a look at the 1996 Hillside Select now.
No flaws and a healthy cork.

2. Appearance:
Deep dark-red, garnet. No signs of aging with bright, rich colors!

3. Nose:
Intense aromas of ripe Dark Berries with Cassis, Plum, Cherry and Fruit in Rum.
Great complexity and concentration!
Multilayered with Leather, Earth, Floral and Vanilla Sweetness.
Traces of Mocha, Dark Chocolate and Tea.
Later, more fresh Eucalypt, present Spices and Dried Herbs.
Intriguing, inviting and simply perfect!

4. Taste:
Vital flavours of ripe Dark Fruit, Cassis, Blackberry and (Sour) Cherry.
Some Minerality. Traces of Cedar, Leather and little Tar.
Plenty of depth and a long soft and round finish with more Dark Fruits, Anise and some peppery spiciness!
Perfect proportions, amazing complexity with great structure!

5. Opinion:
Full-bodied, rich and concentrated, but beautifully aged with perfect structure, proportions and complexity.
A wine setting the benchmark for premium Cabernet Sauvignon not only in Napa Valley and a wine to remember.
Drinks perfectly now, but is good for decades to come.
It´s part of my philosophy not to rate wines based on a numeric scale in this blog,
but- no matter on which scale- this wine deserves a perfect score!

@Shafer, August 2012

Tasting Note: Shafer 1994 Cabernet Sauvignon


1. Introduction:
This is the secondary Cabernet Sauvignon, aside from Hillside Select, which Shafer calls “One Point Five” since the 2004 release.
Unlike the One Point Five today, the Stags Leap Cabernet was made from predominantly Hillside Estate fruit back in 1994. Due to trouble with phylloxera in the mid nineties and necessary replantings, Shafer had problems to get enough fruit from the Hillside Estate vineyard to cover both wines, their Hillside Select flagship wine and Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon. So they decided to buy the literally last available piece of land in the Stags Leap District AVA, the Borderline vineyard, in 1999, which is the prior source for the One Point Five- Cabernet today.
Our 1994 Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon really is a piece of history and in perfect condition!
Great first impression with a beautiful cork.

2. Appearance:
Very deep dark-red with slightly lighter, brown edges. Beautiful rich colors!

3. Nose:
Intense aromas of ripe Dark Berries and Dark Chocolate. Dried Tomatoes paired with other secondary characteristics as Leather and Tar. Some Sweetness and Vanilla.
What a nose! Powerful and complex.

4. Taste:
Rich flavours of ripe Cassis and Black Cherries. Traces of Cedar, Earth and some herbs. Plenty of depth and a long soft finish with Dark Fruits and some Pepper spiciness!
Great complexity perfectly packed!

5. Opinion:
Yes, I am a fan of Shafer wines, but this one was a real surprise!
If somebody had told me I was drinking Hillside Select, I probably would have believed him.
An impressive wine!
Big and bold, but beautifully aged with perfect structure, proportions and complexity.
If you have one in your cellar, you should drink it right now.
It is definitely peaking at the moment.


Tasting Note: Shafer Vineyards 2008 Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay


1. Introduction:
The only white wine in Shafer´s portfolio comes from the cooler south of Napa Valley, Carneros, where growing conditions are perfect for Chardonnay.
Named after the Red Shouldered Hawks patrolling the vineyard, this barrel fermented Chardonnay ages in 75% oak barrels and 25% stainless steel barrels without malolactic fermentation.
Our 2008 Red Shoulder Ranch bottle was cellared well and is in perfect condition!

2. Appearance:
Bright and Golden in the glass.

3. Nose:
Ripe Tropical Fruits, like Mango, Pineapple, Melon and some Citrus.
Characters of Almonds and Vanilla. Some Honey and Floral hints.
Rich, but elegant and inviting!

4. Taste:
Medium to full-bodied with a soft texture and flavors of Minerals, decent Tropical Fruits and Caramel.
Nice Acidity followed by a long finish with Spices as Pepper and Anise.
Comforting and grown-up.

5. Opinion:
A rich, round and perfectly integrated and balanced wine with perfect proportions!
Beautiful and probably best now.


Tasting Note: Shafer Vineyards 2009 Relentless

At Shafer Vineyards, August 2012

1. Introduction:
This is already the second Tasting Note of a Shafer wine in CellarTV´s short history, but after I had the chance to get my hands on a 2009 Relentless right after the 2008 vintage took the crown in the Wine Spectator´s Top 100 of 2012, I simply couldn´t resist.
Shafer sources the fruit for this Syrah/ Petite Sirah blend from a rugged, remote estate vineyard, which is located just south of the Stag´s Leap District in Napa Valley. It is a rich wine with 15,8% alc.

2. Appearance:
Very dense and dark purple in the glass. Intense and vibrant!

3. Nose:
Dark red fruits. Blackberries, Cassis and Plums. Cacao with hints of Lilac, Spices and Anise. Some smoky characters. Remarkable!

4. Taste:
More Dark Berries, like Black- and Blueberries, some Raspberry. Leaves, Floral characters. Obvious oak.
Finishes long with Fruits and some Pepper. Bright acidity embedded in a great structure with present tannins!

5. Opinion:
The Shafer 2009 Relentless presents itself big and rich, but surprisingly balanced and structured.
This is one of California´s best Syrahs!


Tasting at Shafer, August 2012

Tasting Note: Shafer 2000 Firebreak


  1. Introduction:
    It started with the planting of the vineyard after a devastating fire in 1981, but after 13 vintages Shafer got out of the Sangiovese business and the 2003 Firebreak was the last vintage of this wine.
    The 2000 Firebreak is a blend of 94% Sangiovese and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon and comes with 14,8% alc.
    The cork was healthy and had not soaked up any wine.
  2. Appearance:
    Dark-red with slightly light edges. Looking good!
  3. Nose:
    Cherries, Cassis, Dried Tomatoes, Herbs, Sweet Vanilla, Leather and Spicy Characters.
  4. Taste:
    Cherries, Blackberries, some Cassis, quite present Cabernet Characteristics!Peppery, spicy and medium-long finish.
  5. Opinion:
    The reason why Shafer started down this path was because of a trip through Tuscany in the late 1980s. John Shafer fell in love with Antinori’s Tignanello. And when he got home he was so enthusiastic about Sangiovese that he decided to plant it.
    Firebreak is (was) a decent Tuscan, but in my opinion quality-wise behind the other Shafer releases.
    This 2000 Firebreak had aged well. It maintained a lot of fruit and spicyness.
    A pleasurable Tuscan!