2012 Shafer "Hillside Select" Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Shafer’s flagship wine, and one of the world’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignons, is the Hillside Select, which comes from the rocky, volcanic soils on hillsides above the winery. Vineyard production is small, and the wine an incredible example of Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in 100% new oak for 32 months and bottled unfiltered, this can generally be expected to be one of the top dozen or so Cabernet Sauvignons in virtually any vintage in Napa, and certainly possesses 25 to possibly 50 years of aging potential. The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is a perfect wine. It elicits more than a few “wows” when you smell the incredible notes of charcoal, graphite and subtle toast, buttressed and dominated by blackcurrant, blackberry and blueberry fruit. The purity of these fruits, the multidimensional mouthfeel, the seamless integration of acid, alcohol, tannin and wood are all flawless. The 2012 signature adds an extravagant opulence and density that is just mind-boggling, and the wine is a total hedonistic and intellectual turn-on already, although it has 30+ years of life ahead of it. (RP)
A wine with incredible finesse and elegance. Blackberry, blueberry, mineral, violet and lavender aromas. Wet earth floor and stone. Full body, very fine tannins and fabulous freshness. The length and polish is truly exceptional. The hint of austerity makes it irresistible. A joy to drink. But has a great future ahead of it.
*Cellar Selection* The highly sought-after, perennially beautiful and brawny Hillside Select is 100% estate grown and 100% varietal. It wows after three years in barrel, painting a lush picture of tobacco, tea and firm, integrated tannin dusted in smoky clove scents. Intensely peppery, its youthful blackberry and cherry flavors shine through but will benefit from even more time in bottle, through 2032. (VB)
Always among the richest, most extravagant Cabernets of any vintage, Shafer’s Hillside Select bottlings sometime sit at the brink of being too much. In this outing, however, the wine exhibits great depth and control, and it delivers enormous richness with keen fruit always in charge. It is altogether captivating stuff with layer upon layer of fully ripe currants, raspberries, cherries and black olives sweetened by creamy oak, and its late-arriving touch of heat is made wholly irrelevant by its unrelenting fruity richness. Give it a half-dozen years at the minimum, and be assured that, as long as it is well-cellared, it will be in splendid shape for two or three times as long.
*Hot Wines* Amazing from first sip to last, remarkably complex, layered and textured, smooth and supple, with a seductive creamy mocha oak presence to the long, expansive aftertaste, where the flavors cascade on top of one another and excite with anise and cedar. Drink now through 2032.
A total hedonistic turn-on, the 2012 has developed beautifully since I tasted it last year. The 2012 is not especially subtle. Instead it bursts from the glass with intense raciness and voluptuousness. Dark red cherry, pomegranate, spice and new leather flesh out on the opulent finish. Hints of torrefaction, mocha and French oak are evident and suggest the 2012 doesn't quite have the density or richness of the very best years. In exchange, though, the 2012 will drink well with minimal cellaring and is not likely to shut down. (AG)
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Bright red-ruby. Very sexy aromas of black cherry, cassis, mocha and spices, plus a whiff of caramel. Wonderfully fleshy, inviting and sweet, boasting highly concentrated flavors of currant, licorice and narcissus. For all its early mid-palate creaminess, this is quite powerful and youthful, and yet its full, ripe tannins are perfectly supported by its intense dark fruit flavors and impression of extract. 94+ (ST)