2001 Shafer "Hillside Select" Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
I should not be surprised that the 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select merited a perfect rating since I rated it 99 eight years ago...The 2001 is a big wine (14.9% natural alcohol), but the alcohol is buried beneath an avalanche of creme de cassis, wood smoke, toast, licorice and spring flower characteristics. Super full-bodied with fabulous fruit purity, a broad, expansive mouthfeel, lots of glycerin and a huge upside, this 2001 is still an infant at age ten, but it is approachable as well as compelling to smell and taste. It has at least another three decades of aging potential ahead of it and is one of the great young, legendary classics from Napa Valley. It was a privilege to taste. There are approximately 2,000 cases of this cuvee which comes from Shafer’s hillside vineyards in the Stags Leap area and is aged 32 months in 100% new French oak.
*Cellar Selection* No Cabernet smells better. This is an enormously attractive, well-oaked wine constituted from the best possible fruit. In the mouth, it immediately seduces. Shafer knows it has to rise to expectations with this wine, and the 2001 does not disappoint. The fruit is spectacular, all cassis. The oak is rich, flamboyant and delicious. Structurally, the wine has the best tannin-acid structure Napa is capable of. Immediately delicious now, this wine should develop over the next 10 years.
Amazing for its richness, depth and concentration, with a wealth of flavors extending to espresso bean, mocha, dark berry, raspberry and cedar, intense and persistent on the long, detailed finish. An immense wine that's gracefully balanced. 2001 California Cabernet blind retrospective (June 2011). Drink now through 2020. 2,500 cases made. (Web Only-2011)
***Three stars*** Dramatic, immensely oaked and highly ripened Cabernets such as this may well bring a frown to those who are simply cannot abide powerhouse wines. And, while there exist more than a few wines that test our limits when it comes to oak and runaway ripeness, the only line crossed here is the one that defines the very best of the genre. Intense and deeply fruited, this stunning bottling delivers a dazzling display of unabashed richness, but never once are its varietal credentials in doubt, and it exhibits an uncanny sense of balance despite its considerable size. How long wines of this style will last is a question that can only be answered by time. We do not see this one peaking for at least seven or eight years, and it could easily hold for twice that time and more.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Saturated ruby. Brooding, pure aromas of cassis, dark chocolate, tobacco, smoke and licorice. Conveys a powerful impression of solidity, and yet the very primary flavors of dark berries, bitter chocolate, graphite, tar and minerals are also quite fresh. This unfolds slowly and builds impressively on the back half, finishing quite suave and fresh. The tannins are firm but not stern, and the persistent fruit flavors are red and quite bright. Possesses a superb structure for long aging in bottle. Expect this one to evolve for 15 to 20 years. A great Napa Valley cabernet, but in need of at least a few years of cellaring.
Wine & Spirits
From vines the Shafers planted in the early 1970s, these volcanic knolls at the foot of Stags Leap offer the family's best wine, distinctive both for its texture and the grace with which it ages. It's hard to find a better example of SLD tannins, a combination of dusty earth and chocolate richness so refined that it's hard to tell where the fruit tannins end and the oak begins. The wine is neither overtly fruity nor in any way super-ripe. The power seems to come right out of the ground. This is a great vintage of Hillside Select that will need years to reach its peak, perhaps from 2010 through '15 or later.