2000 Shafer "Firebreak" Napa Valley Sangiovese

SKU #1002801 93 points Wine Enthusiast

 *Editor's Choice* This is brutally good, as it has been for the past several vintages, although the concentration is off a notch. Only 6% Cabernet Sauvignon from estate vineyards, but it dominates, with massive flavors of blackcurrants. What the 94% Sangiovese brings is notes of cherry, tobacco and earth, and a streak of clean acidity. Defines style and grace in a gigantic wine.  (9/2003)

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The 2000 Firebreak (94% Sangiovese and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon; 14.8% alcohol) is surprisingly light in the mouth, revealing crisp, tart, strawberry fruit along with a hint of new saddle leather in a medium-bodied, straightforward format. (RP)  (12/2003)

Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Good dark red. Scented aromas of raspberry, cherry and rose petal. A bit more taut in the middle palate than the 2000 Merlot, with floral, milk chocolate and spicy oak notes. Tannins are a bit dry today, but then this was bottled just three weeks before my visit (previous vintages were bottled after just 14 months).  (5/2003)

Wine Spectator

 Complex and inviting, with a tasty array of ripe cherry, strawberry, earthy currant and herbal-olive notes. Firms up on the finish, where the tannic strength becomes more evident.  (6/2003)

K&L Notes

Shafer Firebreak is a proprietary blend of Sangiovese (94%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (6%). Inspired by the wines of Italy, Firebreak highlights the spicy fruitiness of Sangiovese with the depth and backbone of Cabernet Sauvignon. Sangiovese brings licorice and spice to this full-bodied and aromatic wine, while Cabernet contributes deep color and roundness on the back of the palate.

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Price: $49.99
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- The most widely planted grape in Italy is Sangiovese, a high-acid grape with moderate to high tannins, apparent earthiness and subtle fruit. It is thought to have originated in Tuscany and its name, which translates to "blood of Jove," leads historians to believe it may date all the way back to the Etruscan period, though historical mentions only go as far back as the early 1700s. Though planted all over modern Italy, the most significant wines made from Sangiovese still come from Tuscany: Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino. Sangiovese must make up 75% of a blend from the Chianti DOCG t be labeled as such, traditionally allowing for Canaiolo, Trebbiano and Malvasia for the remainder, though more recently small proportions of Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot have been allowed. In Brunello di Montalcino the wine must be made entirely of Sangiovese. Prugnolo is Montepulciano's name for Sangiovese, and it is used there for the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wines. In the DOC of Carmignano Sangiovese can be blended with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. There are also Super Tuscans, IGT wines that blend Sangiovese with large proportions of Cabernet or Merlot. Elsewhere in Italy it is a workhorse grape, though it does find some success (though not the longevity) in the Montefalco and Torgiano wines of Umbria as well as the foundation of Rosso Piceno and a significant element of Rosso Conero from the Marches. Like Nebbiolo, Sangiovese has struggled to find footing outside of Italy, though in recent years California wineries have been having better fortune with grape plantings in the Sierra Foothills/El Dorado County, as well as Sonoma County and the Central Coast.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year.
Specific Appellation:

Napa Valley

- America's most famous wine region, which encompasses a varied geographical territory running about 20 miles long from the San Francisco Bay northward to the foot of Mount St. Helena. Napa's great diversity, both in terms of climate and terroir, has led to the creation of a number of smaller AVAs like Stags Leap District, Rutherford, Howell Mountain, Oakville and Mount Veeder, among others. Cabernet and chardonnay still reign supreme, but just about everything under the sun is grown in Napa Valley, in quality levels ranging from $2 jug wine to $500 a bottle California cab.