2008 Shafer "Hillside Select" Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon
I can't wait to taste this in bottle. Bright fruit, with currants and plums on the nose. A powerful and structured palate, with plenty of tannins and a long flavorful finish. This is precise, a combination of the 2006 and 2007. Barrel sample.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The estate's 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is one of those rare wines that looks like it will be absolutely delicious pretty much at any point in its life. Super-refined and silky, the 2008 caresses the palate with layers of deeply expressive dark fruit. The 2008 is a wine of exceptional textural finesse and pedigree. According to Doug Shafer, cool weather in the spring resulted in small clusters with high skin to juice ratios, always a plus for high quality wines. Today the 2008 does not look like a huge Hillside Select, but is rather a wine built on polish and elegance. It will be interesting to see if the 2008 fills out in bottle, or it remains more restrained in its personality. Anticipated maturity: 2018-2038.
Muscular and tightly wound, yet beautifully focused and proportioned, dense and chewy, delivering rich layers of dried currant, blackberry, spice and licorice flavors. Demands cellaring. Best from 2014 through 2028.
Another great Hillside Select from selected blocks in Shafer's vineyard. It's a perfect illustration of the 'iron fist in a velvet glove' description of Stags Leap Cabernet, with perhaps more emphasis this year on the velvet glove that the iron. With smooth tannins and luxurious, oak-influenced blackberry and black cherry jam flavors, it's delicious now and will provide plenty of pleasure over the next 8-10 years.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Good bright, full ruby. Blackberry, black cherry, mocha and chocolatey oak on the almost liqueur-like nose. Plush, densely packed and slightly high-toned, but with surprising acidity to energize the very ripe flavors of black raspberry, licorice, coffee, mocha and spices. Finishes with substantial ripe, dusty tannins and compelling early sweetness. Still, I'd want to hold this for at least a few years. 93(+?) points
We occasionally find a wine that is too much of good thing, and that descriptor applies here. From its intense, lavishly oaked, very ripe aromas to its immense and downright extravagant flavors, this wine seems poised right at the brink of losing control, and it is undermined by very palpable heat. That said, it exhibits richness on top of richness and will delight folks who believe bigger is better, and, given Shafer's track record of very ripe wines that age surprisingly well, it cannot be dismissed in its all too awkward youth.