2009 Shafer "Relentless" Napa Valley Syrah

SKU #1111314 95 points Wine Spectator

 Brimming with dark, rich berry, loamy earth, crushed rock and espresso, this is a powerful expression that's also tapered and sophisticated, ending with all kinds of subtle nuances that come alive on the finish. Syrah and Petite Sirah. Best from 2013 through 2024. (JL)  (2/2013)

94 points Jeb Dunnuck

 A field blend of 82% Syrah and 18% Petite Sirah that saw 30 months in 100% new French oak barrels, the 2009 Relentless is always a supremely rich, full-flavored effort that somehow manages to stay in check and deliver a beautiful drinking experience. The 2009 is no exception, and if anything has a slightly toned down level of texture and a silky, elegant feel for such a big wine. It offers up layers of sweet black fruits, licorice, charred meat, and crushed flower like qualities, as well as a full-bodied, concentrated, and beautifully textured mouth feel. Chewy, rich, and heady on the finish, with noticeable tannin, it needs a substantial decant if drinking anytime soon, and will be even better in 2-3 years. It should have 12-15 years of longevity.  (12/2012)

93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The 2009 Relentless (Syrah/Petite Sirah) wraps around the palate with serious depth. Dark cherries, grilled herbs and menthol take shape in the glass followed by sweet floral notes that add lift on the finish. A rich, round and voluptuous wine, the 2009 impresses for its overall sense of harmony. It isn’t terribly varietal, but is quite pretty if taken on its own terms. The 2009 is 82% Syrah and 18% Petite Sirah. Personally, I prefer the subsequent vintages, where Syrah plays more of a leading role. (AG)  (12/2012)

92 points Connoisseurs Guide

 There is never any reluctance at Shafer to let its wines develop to full and deep character, and in so doing, there is an acceptance of the higher alcohols that necessarily accompany the longer time on the vine accorded the grapes. But what happens at Shafer, as well as it other successful practitioners of the style, is an equally strict adherence to the notion that fruit and balance are the only ways to pull off the style with any sort of reasonable panache and tasting pleasure. Not surprisingly, this full-bodied, 15.8% alcohol wine is yet another in the line of incredibly successful Syrahs that have been authored by the Shafers, and if its bold, deep and so incredibly expressive character is not for everyone, it is certainly going to be the choice of many. *Two Stars*  (11/2012)

92 points Wine Enthusiast

 Relentless is Shafer's Syrah-based red wine. it's always rich, ripe and bold, and the 2009 is no exception. the alcohol is very high, making the wine heady and warm. If you can get past that, you'll find a huge wine, massive in blackberry, plump raisin and chocolate flavors with soft tannins and a long, sweet finish.  (12/2012)

91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Saturated bright ruby. Blackberry, flint, mocha, licorice, bitter chocolate and roast coffee on the nose, with violet and pepper accents emerging with air. Densely packed, concentrated and surprisingly dry, with deep flavors of dark chocolate and dried fruits complicated by a floral element. Finishes with broad, slightly edgy tannins and excellent saline length. (ST)  (5/2013)

K&L Notes

This wine is an excellent followup to the 2008 vintage, which was Wine Spectator's "Wine of the Year" for 2012. A field blend including 18% Petite Sirah, the grapes for Relentless are sourced from a ridgetop site and a foothills site along the Vaca Mountains just south of the Stags Leap district. The wine spent 30 months in all new 60-gallon French oak barrels. From winemaker Elias Fernandez: "The 2009 offers dense, enticing aromas and flavors of purple/black fruit, smoked meat, spice, incense, black plums and berry. Even at this young age it offers elegance wrapped in extract, with ripe tannins and good structure for aging. In the mouth it’s full and rich from the first taste through the long finish."

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- One of France's noblest black grape varieties, Syrah is known for its intense and distinctive perfume reminiscent of briar fruit, tar, spice and black pepper and its firm structure. One of few black grape varietals frequently vinified on its own, the best examples of Syrah come from the Northern Rhône, particularly Hermitage, but also Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph. These wines are very astringent in their youth, though some Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph can be enjoyed young, relatively speaking. Given the requisite patience, though, these wines can reveal amazing complexity and secondary fruit characteristics like plum and blackcurrant as well as subtle hints of smoke and flowers. In the Southern Rhône, Syrah is used to add structure and complexity to wines dominated by Grenache and complemented by Mourvèdre, like the more immediately drinkable Côte du Rhônes, as well as the long-lived wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In recent years, plantings of Syrah have spread throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon where it is produced on its own or blended with other varietals. Outside of France, the most important Syrah growing country is easily Australia, where it is called Shiraz. Quality levels here depend greatly on yields and geography, and the wines range from bold, fruity and easy-drinking to intense and ageable, like the famed Penfolds Grange. Often bottled on its own, in Australia Syrah is also can be blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre, as in the Southern Rhône, and is increasingly combined with Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah has also been steadily increasing in popularity in California, thanks to a group of advocates called the Rhône Rangers. Its most successful iterations come from the Central and Sonoma Coasts, where winemakers are pushing boundaries and creating some incredible wines. In recent years Syrah has also found a number of proponents in Washington State, which is definitely a region to watch for this variety.

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.
Alcohol Content (%): 15.8