2013 Shafer Napa Valley Merlot
Shafer's 2013 Merlot is wonderfully fresh, brisk and nuanced. Sweet red cherry, plum, mint and expressive spice notes are all pushed forward. This open-knit, fleshy Merlot should drink well for the next handful of years. (AG) Shafer is one of Napa Valley's best oiled machines. Year after year the wines deliver the goods in a rich, sumptuous style that defines the very essence of contemporary Napa Valley at its very best. The 2012s are terrific, but Shafer really shines in 2013 and 2014, two vintages in which the wines have a bit more energy and delineation than 2012, a year with mostly mid-weight wines built on forward fruit, but with less varietal character. Winemaker Elias Fernandez describes 2013 as a year with a generous crop. Unlike the vast majority of his colleagues, Fernandez opted for shorter macerations in 2014, a year with smaller berries and wines that extracted more quickly than in 2013, when the wines spent longer on the skins. Quite frankly, it's hard to go wrong with any of these wines, including the just-released 2011 Hillside Select, which is gorgeous.
*Two Stars* Shafer Merlots somehow manage to be big, bold and unapologetically ripe without being heavy, and this latest is rife with very rich oak and strikingly deep, fully extracted, herb-tinged, solidly varietal fruit that does not miss a beat. It is fleshy and full-bodied and flamboyantly puts all of its winning cards on the table, but, however showy it is now, it is constructed to keep and has the structure and stuffing to guarantee years of positive growth.
Blackberry and violet aromas and flavors. Blue fruit. Spice. Medium to full body, firm tannins and a savory finish. White pepper.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
A soft, juicy 2013 Merlot (90% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Malbec) has no hard edges, a dark ruby/purple color and attractive cherry and berry fruit. (RP)
Praise from Robert Parker: "Year in year out, this is one of the superstar wineries, not only in Napa Valley and all of California, but in the entire world." (10/2014)