2011 Shafer "Hillside Select" Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon
Extremely minty with dried flowers, dark berries and currants. Full body but refined, with super-integrated tannins. The wood, ripe fruit, tannin and acid balance is beautiful. Wonderful potential here.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Possibly the Cabernet Sauvignon of the vintage is Shafer’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select. Last year I thought it was a strong effort, but it’s even better now that it’s been bottled. With an opaque black/purple color and notes of subtle burning charcoal embers, blueberry, blackberry and graphite, the wine has a certain Bordelais minerality, but then the richness of Napa kicks in. It’s full-bodied (somewhat unusual for a 2011) with lighter tannins, and no doubt the wine will be on a faster evolutionary track than vintages such as 2010, 2012 and 2013. Nevertheless, the Shafers and Elias said this was the toughest vintage they’d ever experienced. To be able to produce a compelling wine like this is a testament to their extraordinary skills and craftsmanship. This wine can be drunk now or cellared for another 15-20 years. (RP)
The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is gorgeous today. Sweet, floral and expressive, the 2011 speaks to finesse above all else. The 2011 is lithe and elegant, especially within the context of Hillside Select, yet all the elements are in the right place. Savory and floral notes add an attractive upper register on the close. One of the real highlights of the year, the 2011 continues to get better with time. (AG)
Openly rich and plush, with a dense core of mocha-laced blackberry, charry oak, subtle spice, hot brick and cedary, earthy notes, this hints at a rustic character and is edgy at points, yet the core intensity persists. Ends with drying tannins. Best from 2017 through 2027. (JL)
Very much reflecting the ripe and weighty bias of Hillside Select bottlings, Shafers's latest is again a big-bodied effort of enormous richness and depth. Although unabashed ripeness is its driving force, it is kept on track by a generous measure of concentrated, curranty fruit that survives the effects of its ample tannins and palpable heat. It is not and is unlikely to be an elegant wine that will find refinement with age, but time will tame its youthfully coarse edges and make for a commanding Cabernet of great substance and power.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
(15.5% alcohol): Dark red with ruby tones. Musky aromas of mocha, coffee, leather, licorice, creosote and herbs. Juicy and intense but without the explosive fruit of the 2010; a touch of asparagus gives the wine a greenness in the middle palate but there's also plenty of supporting dark fruit and graphite minerality. Doug Shafer noted that this fruit was picked at up to 26 degrees Brix, but I still find it a bit light. Finishes with chalky tannins and a continuing element of greenness. Shafer described 2011 as "London in Napa Valley: it would not dry out." This was the first year the estate used its new optical sorter.
Lower ripeness register suits this style on the nose. Savoury start and some herbal (but not herbaceous) character. As though pushed to the limit – and it works. Something tarry about it. As though concentrated!