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2011 Shafer - Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select

UNITED STATES / CALIFORNIA / NAPA
  • 96 WA
  • 93 WS
  • Variety
    Cabernet Sauvignon
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SKU: 59032-2011
  • Wine Spectator | Rating: 93

    Openly rich and plush, with a dense core of mocha-laced blackberry, charry oak, subtle spice, hot brick and cedary, earthy notes, this hints at a rustic character and is edgy at points, yet the core intensity persists. Ends with drying tannins. Best from 2017 through 2027. 2,400 cases made.
    Author: James Laube
  • Wine Advocate | Rating: 96

    Possibly the Cabernet Sauvignon of the vintage is Shafer's 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select. Last year I thought it was a strong effort, but it's even better now that it's been bottled. With an opaque black/purple color and notes of subtle burning charcoal embers, blueberry, blackberry and graphite, the wine has a certain Bordelais minerality, but then the richness of Napa kicks in. It's full-bodied (somewhat unusual for a 2011) with lighter tannins, and no doubt the wine will be on a faster evolutionary track than vintages such as 2010, 2012 and 2013. Nevertheless, the Shafers and Elias said this was the toughest vintage they'd ever experienced. To be able to produce a compelling wine like this is a testament to their extraordinary skills and craftsmanship. This wine can be drunk now or cellared for another 15-20 years.
    Author: Robert Parker
  • Self | Rating: 93

    Author: BoxsterVino
  • Self | Rating:

    Drink Dates: 2017-2027
    Author: Kennethjk
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

  • 566 bottles owned
  • 138 collectors
  • Average collector rating: 93
    (Out of 138 collectors)