2006 Shafer "Hillside Select" Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon
*Three stars* Among the deepest, most complete Cabernets that we have yet encountered from 2006, Shafer's latest tête de cuvee wins high praise for both concentration and keen focus. Its plentiful blackcurrant fruit dovetails perfectly with its equally generous oak, and it flavors build and build en route a long and wonderfully sustained finish. There is great scale and substance about this one, yet the wine manages to avoid being too much, and it will age famously for ten years or more on the strength of its exceptional balance.
Bay leaf, dark fruits, and almonds on the nose. This wine is powerful, with a full body, and with flavors of mineral, mint, and lead pencil. I'm thinking Pauillac but tasting California. A very long finish, but needs some time. Be patient with this and wait until 2014.
Wine & Spirits
Like the best vintages of Hillside Select, this wine has tremendous structural power that remains almost imperceptible. On the surface, the tannins are pillowy soft, their supple richness surrounding a core of dark fruit. The wine is black but not hyperextracted—the layers of dark chocolate flavor seem to come from the soil rather than from oak.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Saturated bright ruby. Rich aromas of dark berries, candied cherry, smoke and tobacco. Sweet, lush and deep, with good clarity and lift in spite of its very ripe, thick texture. Black raspberry and dark cherry flavors are complicated by brown spices. A very sexy and pliant wine that finishes with sophisticated tannins. This already gives great pleasure, even if it doesn't offer quite the fireworks of the best recent vintages.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
A slightly more compact version of the great Hillside, but nevertheless youthful, the 2006 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select has a dense purple color, some notes of damp earth, cedar wood, forest floor, red and black currants, and toast. Some austere tannins kick in in the finish, but the wine is full-bodied, ripe and rich. An outstanding effort, but not one of the monumental vintages for Hillside Select, it should be drunk over the next 20 years. (RP)
*Cellar Selection* Young, tannic and juicy, filled with sweet blackberry, cherry and cassis flavors, and well oaked, having been aged in 100% new French barrels. Those are the raw facts. The wine itself shows the pedigree of this fine estate, and will no doubt pick up bottle nuances over the years. But it seems to lack the precision of the great 2001, 2003 and 2004 vintages. Try after 2012.
Complex and balanced, in a medium- to full-bodied and delicate manner, with floral, red berry and plum flavors shaded by a touch of mineral and graphite and ending with tannins that display a cedary, woodsy, charry roasted herb edge. Drink now through 2020. (JL)