Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
|Region||California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District|
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.
This mighty icon of the Napa Valley shows it can handle a cool vintage with as much power and velvety grace as in any other year, providing plenty of grippy tobacco, leather and cedar atop a tannic backbone and mouthwatering mouthfeel. A 100% varietal wine fromvarious estate-farmed vineyard blocks, it guards its minerality with a steely gaze, rationing out black currant, clove and tobacco in measured waves. Drink now through 2021.
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.
(15.5% alcohol): Dark red with ruby tones. Musky aromas of mocha, coffee, leather, licorice, creosote and herbs. Juicy and intense but without the explosive fruit of the 2010; a touch of asparagus gives the wine a greenness in the middle palate but there's also plenty of supporting dark fruit and graphite minerality. Doug Shafer noted that this fruit was picked at up to 26 degrees Brix, but I still find it a bit light. Finishes with chalky tannins and a continuing element of greenness. Shafer described 2011 as "London in Napa Valley: it would not dry out." This was the first year the estate used its new optical sorter.