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2008 Shafer - Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select

UNITED STATES / CALIFORNIA / NAPA
  • 93 WA
  • 96 WS
  • 93 IWC
  • Variety
    Cabernet Sauvignon
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SKU: 59032-2008-750-3A
  • International Wine Cellar | Rating: 93

    (15.5% alcohol; 100% cabernet sauvignon): Good bright, full ruby. Blackberry, black cherry, mocha and chocolatey oak on the almost liqueur-like nose. Plush, densely packed and slightly high-toned, but with surprising acidity to energize the very ripe flavors of black raspberry, licorice, coffee, mocha and spices. Finishes with substantial ripe, dusty tannins and compelling early sweetness. Still, I'd want to hold this for at least a few years.
    Author: Stephen Tanzer
    Issue: May/June 2013
  • Wine Spectator | Rating: 96

    Muscular and tightly wound, yet beautifully focused and proportioned, dense and chewy, with rich layers of dried currant, black- berry, spice and licorice flavors. Demands cellaring.
    Author: James Laube
  • Vinous | Rating: 96

    The estate's 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is one of those rare wines that looks like it will be absolutely delicious pretty much at any point in its life. Super-refined and silky, the 2008 caresses the palate with layers of deeply expressive dark fruit. The 2008 is a wine of exceptional textural finesse and pedigree. According to Doug Shafer, cool weather in the spring resulted in small clusters with high skin to juice ratios, always a plus for high quality wines. Today the 2008 does not look like a huge Hillside Select, but is rather a wine built on polish and elegance. It will be interesting to see if the 2008 fills out in bottle, or it remains more restrained in its personality.
    Author: Antonio Galloni
  • Wine Advocate | Rating: 93

    Vanilla, toast, blackcurrants, graphite, earth and foresty notes are all present in the 2008 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select. It has great fruit, a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, and quite a perfumed personality, but not quite the intensity and length of its predecessor. It could be one of those troublesome pairings where this just happened to follow an out-of-this-world compelling wine. The 2008 is certainly outstanding, just not one of the all-time greats.
    Author: Robert Parker
  • Self | Rating: 97

    Author: BoxsterVino
  • Self | Rating: 96

    A simply superb Cali cab, subtl, rich, great finish. Sorry I don't have a cas of this.
    Author: Stephen G41
John Shafer began working and replanting steep, rocky vineyards in Napa Valley's Stags Leap District in 1972, and has since built Shafer into one of the most sought-after labels from Napa. John, his son Doug, and winemaker Elias Fernandez call themselves farmers, and are proud of it. Doug took over the vineyards in 1989, and within a year began to integrate organic techniques into his vineyards while the term "organic" still elicited sideways looks. "My soils were getting tired," Doug says. "They had been farmed since 1922." He installed solar panels in 2004, and now enjoys watching his batteries send power back to the grid. Elias was hired by Shafer in 1984 and named winemaker in 1994. Shafer Hillside Select is a benchmark wine of the Stag's Leap District, with a string of awards too long to list. Aged a full four years prior to release, it is, in the words of Robert Parker, "One of the world's, as well as Napa's, most profound Cabernet Sauvignons."

Click here to listen to GrapeRadio's podcast about Shafer (Show #93, 32:01 min 15 MB)

California is the heartland of wine production in the US, and the state that brought prestige to American wine thanks to the pioneers who built early wineries like Staglin, Beringer, Ridge, Mayacamas and Chateau Montelena in the 1800s. Its large geographic area ensures a great diversity in growing sites, varieties grown, and quality levels. Generalizations about the state's wines have numerous exceptions; however, a few key facts generally hold true—ample sunshine, dry weather during the growing season, and moderate winters prevail. Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon continue to dominate the state's production—albeit in continually smaller percentages, as growers continue to diversify. More than 100 different varieties can be found throughout the state.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a thick-skinned variety that is high in color, flavor, tannin, and body, displaying aromas of black currant, blackberry, violet, bell pepper, and black cherry. It is late-ripening and therefore struggles to grow in cool climates. Quality can vary tremendously depending on terroir, vineyard management, and winemaking style, with the highest quality wines coming from the Haut-Médoc and Graves in Bordeaux, and Napa and Sonoma in California.

The powerful flavors, tannin, and body of Cabernet Sauvignon make it well suited to ageing and allow it to stand up to a large proportion of new oak without overpowering the wine. 225-litre barriques are the most popular size barrel and French oak is commonly used by the best producers to add structural complexity and flavors of chocolate, vanilla, and clove to the nose and palate. The best wines, many of which are below, can age further in the bottle for decades.

Old-World Cabernet Sauvignon is often blended with Merlot, which ripens earlier than Cabernet and adds plum, softer tannin, and lighter body to this Bordeaux blend. These wines typically have earth-driven aromas such as wet leaves and truffle along with bell peppers and leather. First-Growth producers such as Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Latour, and Château Margaux consistently produce some of the highest-quality Cabernet Sauvignon-based blends.

New-World Cabernet Sauvignon is seen both as a blend and single varietal. Warmer climates and long sunlight hours result in an extended growing season, bearing grapes with richer fruit, bigger tannin, higher alcohol, and lower acidity than their Old-World counterparts. Some of the best expressions of these full-bodied wines come from producers like Screaming Eagle, Hundred Acre, Schrader and Scarecrow.

All Cabernet Sauvignon pairs phenomenally well with meat-forward dishes such as rib-eye steak, short ribs, lamb shank, or a cheeseburger. Vegetable-forward dishes featuring mushrooms are also a great choice for this variety. 

Collector Data For This Wine

  • 953 bottles owned
  • 240 collectors
  • Average collector rating: 97
    (Out of 240 collectors)