2014 Shafer "Red Shoulder Ranch" Carneros Chardonnay
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
First, their non-malolactic 2014 Chardonnay Red Shoulder Ranch comes from a cool-climate vineyard in Carneros. This is aged in 75% oak casks and 25% stainless steel, which seems to be the perfect marriage for showcasing this wine’s rich fruit. The wine has loads of tangerine oil, citrus blossom, a hint of apples and orange marmalade. The oak is subtle, the wine medium to full-bodied, pure and rich. (This is the official tasting note, but I shared two bottles with some friends of mine at the casual Market restaurant in St. Helena, and it was a huge hit.) There are very few wineries in California where you can say that the original wine owners and winemaking staff are totally intact and have been, in this case, since 1978. The estate was founded by John Shafer and run with great precision by himself and more recently by his son Doug and Elias Fernandez. The team has been working together for 38 years since the first vintage in 1978. Six years earlier in 1972, John Shafer bought the property and established the vineyard in the hillsides of Stags Leap. They produce about 30,000 cases of wine – all of it noteworthy. Their Cabernet Sauvignon is true first-growth quality and their Rhône Ranger wine made from Syrah and Petite Sirah, called Relentless, is about as profound as you can get from those varietals. (RP)
Energy and focus the two elements that stand out in Shafer's 2014 Chardonnay Red Shoulder Ranch. Lemon peel, white pepper and floral notes are some of the signatures. The 2014 is shaping up to be another jewel of a wine from Shafer. 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. (AG)
This marquee estate site supplies yet another gorgeous vintage of this powerful white, which opens with a crisp aroma of orange blossom. It follows in to the full-bodied palate, alongside layers of pear, pineapple and melon, all kept fresh by juicy acidity amid bites of oak and baking spice.
Elegance and finesse define the pear, melon and honeysuckle flavors, which are lingering and persistent. The creamy texture features a touch of pithy citrus skin, adding to the nuance and complexity. Drink now through 2022.
*One Star* Shafer's Red Shoulder Ranch bottlings are rarely if ever governed by cautious restraint and more typically aim, as this one so convincingly does, for ripeness, extravagant oak and fruity weight. It is a substantial, very broad, big-bodied wine, and it holds nothing back, and, while it gives ground to palpable heat at the finish, it is so uncompromisingly rich that it succeeds in spite of its inclinations to excess. We would definitely opt for lighter Chardonnay when delicate fare is on the evening menu, but this will make delicious drinking with the likes of game birds, tea-smoked duck or veal cutlets.
Shafer's Carneros Chardonnay was whole-cluster pressed, barrel-fermented with wild yeast in 75% oak and 25% stainless steel, and aged for 14 months. The wine skipped malolactic fermentation, and retains all of its natural acidity. Shafer thought that the red-shouldered hawks performed such a valuable service in their sustainably farmed vineyards, they named this one for them.