Tasting: Shafer Hillside Select 2007

Shafer is legendary in Napa Valley and their Hillside Select is an iconic wine of the region.  On a recent flight, I read an article in the airline’s magazine sharing the author’s thoughts on the best beer, wine, or spirit in each state.  There is so much to choose from in California and they selected Shafer Hillside Select.

Shafer-Landscape-Right-webThe Shafer property is stunning, with vineyard planted hills surrounding the winery.  The property was first planted with vines in the 1880’s.  John Shafer acquired it in 1972 and his first vintage was 1978.  Hillside Select is  100% Cabernet Sauvignon “selected” from 14 blocks on the Shafer “hillside” property.  Shafer has a wonderful website filled with their history.  To learn more specifically about this wine, check out The Hillside Select Story .

The 2007 is a special bottle.  It was the 25th anniversary for Shafer (1978 first vintage).  It was also rated 100 points by Robert Parker.

Wine: 2007 Shafer Hillside Select Stags Leap DistrictShafer HSS 2007 Label

Price:  I was lucky enough to have a friend open this bottle.  The best price I see on the web is $400+.  I know, this is off the charts for most of us.  If you get a chance, do consider Shafer’s other wines like Shafer One Point Five  Cabernet for around $90 or the brand new Shafer TD-9 Red Blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec for around $60.

Composition: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Sight: dark red core

Nose: dark fruits, cassis, still plenty of ripe fruit

Taste: this is infinitely balanced, a concentrated ribbon of deep ripe fruit, great mouth-feel, the tannins are well-integrated into the wine contributing to such balance, so much depth of flavor.

Overall:   Simply dynamite!  I said it the night I drank it, this is one of best wines I’ve ever tasted.  It could be the best.

What the pros say:

100 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
“One of the perfect wines from Shafer is the 2007 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select. Think it over – in the first decade of the 21st century, Shafer scored three perfect scores and two 99s – that’s about as high a praise as I can give any producer in the world. Opaque purple in color, the 2007 has a stunning nose of sweet crème de cassis, black cherries, licorice, and toasty oak, a multilayered, full-throttle personality, and a texture that builds and builds. Great purity, fabulous fruit intensity and a richness without heaviness characterize this massive, prodigious effort from Shafer. It’s still very young, despite this vintage, which seems to be maturing precociously. I don’t believe this wine will hit its stride for at least another 5-10 years and drink well for at least 2-3 decades.” (RP) (12/2014)

97 points James Suckling
“This won’t be out until next year and will mark 25 years of Hillside Select. Nice aromas of mint, mineral, dark fruits, and delicious currants. Full bodied, with a soft beginning that just builds and builds. This is muscular and toned, very impressive. Save your money to get plenty of this. Thought provoking wine. Don’t drink this for four or five years.” (4/2011)

97 points Wine Enthusiast
“In keeping with the voluptuous approachability of the 2007 vintage, this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is simply fabulous now for its flood of the ripest, sweetest blackberrries, cherries, cassis and chocolate imaginable. Especially noble is the tannin structure, firm and soft, dry and sweet, a combination of opposites. The depth is vast, and the spicy finish goes on for a long time, suggesting the wine’s concentration. Simply a joy to drink, it should develop over many years, but you might want to err on the side of youthfulness and open it by 2015.”  (4/2012)


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