2005 Shafer "Hillside Select" Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Like many 2005s (I’ll be doing a retrospective of this vintage in several months and look forward to it), this was a vintage that seemed to start off relatively uneventfully and was rather slow to reveal its true merit early in life. Like a thoroughbred race horse, it just seemed to get stronger and stronger in barrel, and now that the wines have been in bottle, they continue to strut their stuff. Of course, 2004 got much more publicity because of the heat, and after 2001 and 2002, there weren’t a lot of superlatives left to give, but 2005 has turned out to be a great vintage and the 2005 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is certainly one of the superstars of the vintage. Flirting with perfection, this wine is still youthful coming up on ten years of age. A wine of great intensity, it shows off a boatload of blackcurrant liqueur, charcoal and spring flowers, with hints of blackberry and blueberry for additional complexity. The wine has stunning richness and purity, a multidimensional, full-bodied mouthfeel, impeccable purity and that flawless integration of acidity, wood, tannin and alcohol that the Shafer’s and winemaker Elias Fernandez routinely achieve. This is a beauty for drinking now or over the next 30-plus years, although I think patience suggests holding onto it for further nuances to develop over the next 5-10 years. (RP)
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Bright ruby-red. Pure, vibrant aromas of blackberry, cassis, lead pencil, violet, licorice and minerals. Wonderfully fine-grained and deep, with sharp definition and lovely floral high notes to the flavors of blueberry, cassis and spice. Finishes with noble, suave tannins and outstanding slow-building length. This 100% cabernet wine has all the elements to make an outstanding bottle. Winemaker Fernandez, who rates it with the 2002 and 2001 as his favorites among recent vintages.
Menthol, eucalyptus, and dark fruits with sweet tobacco jump out of the glass. Full bodied, with a soft velvety texture and lots of sweet, juicy fruit. Makes you think and relax. Hard to not to drink this but you should wait a few years if you can.
Wine & Spirits
The texture is often what sets Hillside Select apart from other Napa Valley cabernets, the gentleness of its tannins managing to maintain the wine's shape and contour without flattening out. It appears to be seamless, sleek in the best sense of the word-a luxurious wine that feels authentic. Part of that is the cool, foresty mushroom flavor at the heart of the tannin; another part the beautiful balance between the tannins and the layers of dark fruit. A fine vintage of Hillside Select, this glows with the contemporary ripeness of Napa Valley cabernet without overreaching.
Nothing short of bombastic and simply brimming with very ripe currants and extravagant oak, Shafer's flagship is again a wine of admirable richness and size with little regard for subtlety or restraint. It is gloriously full and close to unctuous in feel yet is never less than remarkably balanced for the big-bodied wine that it is, and, it is on the strength of balance combined with its extract and depth that this one guarantees five to ten years of improvement.
Generous ripe plum, black cherry and currant flavors are supple and focused, complex and balanced. Full-bodied and focused, ending with a long, layered finish that picks up anise, cedar and mineral notes. Cabernet Sauvignon. Tasted three times, with consistent notes. Drink now through 2018.