Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon (1.5 Liter Magnum - scuffed label) 2011
Blend: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Shafer Vineyards in Napa Valley, California, is an iconic family-owned winery, named one of the top 25 vineyards in the world by wine publication Wine & Spirits and “one of the world’s greatest wineries” by wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr.
Since 1978 the Shafer family has produced wine in the Stags Leap District, one of the most highly-regarded winegrowing regions within Napa Valley.
Shafer’s wines, including its signature wine, Hillside Select, are found in collectors’ cellars and on wine lists in top hotels and restaurants throughout the world.
The small winery is managed by father and son team John and Doug Shafer. Elias Fernandez is winemaker. Shafer cultivates more than 200 acres of estate vineyards, sources for Shafer’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Malbec, Petite Sirah, and Syrah.
Legend has it that quick and nimble stags would escape the indigenous hunters of southern Napa Valley through the landmark palisades that sit just northeast of the current city of Napa. As a result, the area was given the name, Stags Leap. While its grape-growing history dates back to the mid-1800s, winemaking didn’t really take off until the mid-1970s after a small but pivotal blind tasting called the Judgement of Paris.
When a 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon won first place against its high-profile Bordeaux contenders, like Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Chateau Haut-Brion, international attention to the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley escalated rapidly.
The vineyards in this one-of-a-kind wine growing region receive hot afternoon air reflecting off of its eastern palisade formation. In combination with the cool evening breezes from the San Pablo Bay just south, this becomes an optimal environment for grape growing. While many varieties could thrive here, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot dominate with virtually no others, save for a spot or two of Syrah.
Stags Leap soils—eroded volcanic and old river sediments—encourage well established root systems and result in complex, terroir-driven wines. Stags Leap District reds have a distinct sour cherry and black berry character with baking spice and dried earth aromas, and supple tannins.
A noble variety bestowed with both power and concentration, Cabernet Sauvignon enjoys success all over the globe. Inherently high in tannins and acidity, the best bottlings of Cabernet can age beautifully, with the ability to last fifty years or more. Cabernet Sauvignon flourishes in temperate climates like Bordeaux's Medoc region and forms the base of the Medoc reds, which are typically mostly Cabernet with Merlot and smaller amounts of some combination of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. (Enjoying a great deal of success in various regions around the world, this blend is now globally referred to as a Bordeaux Blend.) Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious, age-worthy and sought-after “cult” wines.
In the Glass
High in color, tannin and extract, Cabernet Sauvignon expresses notes of blackberry, cassis, plum, currant, spice and tobacco. In Bordeaux and elsewhere in the Old World you'll find the more earthy, tannic side of Cabernet, where it is typically blended to soften tannins and add complexity. In warmer regions like California Washington, Argentina, Chile and Australia, you can typically expect more ripe fruit flavors upfront.
Cabernet Sauvignon is right at home with rich, intense meat dishes—beef, lamb and venison, in particular—where its opulent fruit and decisive tannins make an equal match to the dense protein of the meat. With a mature Cabernet, opt for tender, slow-cooked meat dishes.
Despite the modern importance and ubiquity of Cabernet Sauvignon, it is actually a relatively young variety. In 1997, DNA profiling revealed the grape to be a spontaneous crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc which took place in 17th century southwestern France.