2004 Shafer "Hillside Select" Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon
A perfect score has to be considered in the context of its region. Shafer’s 2004 Hillside Select is tremendous as a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that competes with its peers at the highest levels. It’s always a fabulous wine, but in warm 2004, Shafer’s amphitheater vineyard sheltered the grapes, ripening them to perfection yet protecting the “iron fist in a velvet glove” structure that André Tchelistcheff defined as Stags Leap. This 100% Cabernet is tremendous in cassis, black currant and mocha flavors, and the 100% new French oak provides perfect additions of smoke and caramel. It’s soft and gorgeous enough to drink now, and should age well in a cool cellar for the next 20 years.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
This vintage shocked me when I did my retrospective earlier this year, and the 2004 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select acquitted itself brilliantly in the vertical of Hillside Selects. It was a hot year, a relatively early harvest and there were worries that the heat had stressed the grapes, and there would be a lack of physiological ripeness and nuance. Those worries have not manifested themselves in this great Cabernet Sauvignon. Inky/purple-colored with notes of blueberry, blackberry, cassis, spring flowers, and a touch of toast, the wine is opulent, voluptuous and full-bodied with sweet tannin, just enough acidity to provide freshness, vibrancy and delineation, and a spectacular finish that goes on 40+ seconds. This is a killer, a showy and flamboyant style of Hillside Select that’s already drinking beautifully and should continue to do so for another 15-20 years. (RP)
This remains a bold, opulent, fleshy style, with explosive layers of spice, blackberry, cedar and crushed rock, ending with firm, ripe tannins and touches of mocha. Tannins lock in the finish and hold the flavors in place. (Web-2014)
Bright, saturated dark ruby. Brilliantly pure aromas of blackberry, kirsch, minerals, bitter chocolate and cocoa powder. Plush, sweet, superconcentrated and very ripe, with sexy mineral and earth nuances adding interest to the intense dark fruit flavors. This utterly seamless Cabernet also boasts terrific mid-palate energy and lift. The superb, ripely tannic, slowly building finish goes on and on. A time-capsule California Cabernet that saturates every square millimeter of the palate. Impeccably balanced right now, but should easily go on for another decade or more. (ST)
Wine & Spirits
Hillside Select has come to define Stags Leap District cabernet; it's a luxury wine that still bears the reality of its place, in this case, a series of small knolls beneath the palisades at Napa Valley's eastern edge. Elias Fernandez coaxes a deliciously ripe wine from those hills, a combination of bright cherry and high-toned florals with bass notes that deepen to the marbled fatty richness of a grilled rib eye. It's dark, succulent and mouthwatering Cabernet, hard to resist.
*Two Stars* No wine has outranked Shafer Hillside Select over the last twenty-five years. There are those who say that the wine is too big, too direct, too heavy, cannot possibly age and typifies all that is wrong with California Cabernet Sauvignon today. We really have only one answer to that-please read our retrospective tasting of this wine covering 1978 to the present. The proof is in the glass, and we expect this current vintage to perform as well for the next two decades as it mates have done. It is deep, bold, almost heavy and heady wine, but it is layered, full of fruit and has the underlying structure to improve.