2009 Shafer "Relentless" Napa Valley Syrah
Brimming with dark, rich berry, loamy earth, crushed rock and espresso. This is a powerful expression that is also tapered and sophisticated, ending with all kinds of subtle nuances that come alive on the finish. (Web Only- 2012)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2009 Relentless (Syrah/Petite Sirah) wraps around the palate with serious depth. Dark cherries, grilled herbs and menthol take shape in the glass followed by sweet floral notes that add lift on the finish. A rich, round and voluptuous wine, the 2009 impresses for its overall sense of harmony. It isn’t terribly varietal, but is quite pretty if taken on its own terms. The 2009 is 82% Syrah and 18% Petite Sirah. Personally, I prefer the subsequent vintages, where Syrah plays more of a leading role.
*Two Stars* There is never any reluctance at Shafer to let its wines develop to full and deep character, and in so doing, there is an acceptance of the higher alcohols that necessarily accompany the longer time on the vine accorded the grapes. But what happens at Shafer, as well as it other successful practitioners of the style, is an equally strict adherence to the notion that fruit and balance are the only ways to pull off the style with any sort of reasonable panache and tasting pleasure. Not surprisingly, this full-bodied, 15.8% alcohol wine is yet another in the line of incredibly successful Syrahs that have been authored by the Shafers, and if its bold, deep and so incredibly expressive character is not for everyone, it is certainly going to be the choice of many.
Relentless is Shafer's Syrah-based red wine. it's always rich, ripe and bold, and the 2009 is no exception. the alcohol is very high, making the wine heady and warm. If you can get past that, you'll find a huge wine, massive in blackberry, plump raisin and chocolate flavors with soft tannins and a long, sweet finish.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Saturated bright ruby. Blackberry, flint, mocha, licorice, bitter chocolate and roast coffee on the nose, with violet and pepper accents emerging with air. Densely packed, concentrated and surprisingly dry, with deep flavors of dark chocolate and dried fruits complicated by a floral element. Finishes with broad, slightly edgy tannins and excellent saline length.
This wine is an excellent followup to the 2008 vintage, which was Wine Spectator's "Wine of the Year" for 2012. A field blend including 18% Petite Sirah, the grapes for Relentless are sourced from a ridgetop site and a foothills site along the Vaca Mountains just south of the Stags Leap district. The wine spent 30 months in all new 60-gallon French oak barrels. From winemaker Elias Fernandez: "The 2009 offers dense, enticing aromas and flavors of purple/black fruit, smoked meat, spice, incense, black plums and berry. Even at this young age it offers elegance wrapped in extract, with ripe tannins and good structure for aging. In the mouth it’s full and rich from the first taste through the long finish."