Wine Advocate 96 points - Possibly the Cabernet Sauvignon of the vintage is Shafer’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select. Last year I thought it was a strong effort, but it’s even better now that it’s been bottled. With an opaque black/purple color and notes of subtle burning charcoal embers, blueberry, blackberry and graphite, the wine has a certain Bordelais minerality, but then the richness of Napa kicks in. It’s full-bodied (somewhat unusual for a 2011) with lighter tannins, and no doubt the wine will be on a faster evolutionary track than vintages such as 2010, 2012 and 2013. Nevertheless, the Shafers and Elias said this was the toughest vintage they’d ever experienced. To be able to produce a compelling wine like this is a testament to their extraordinary skills and craftsmanship. This wine can be drunk now or cellared for another 15-20 years.
Openly rich and plush, with a dense core of mocha-laced blackberry, charry oak, subtle spice, hot brick and cedary, earthy notes, this hints at a rustic character and is edgy at points, yet the core intensity persists. Ends with drying tannins. Best from 2017 through 2027. From California.-J.L.
Shafer Hillside Select, our signature wine of limited production, is made of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, the grapes selected from the best lots grown on Shafer's hillside vineyards in the Stags Leap District. Truly a "wine of a place," this Cabernet exemplifies the concentration of hillside grapes and the extraordinary richness and suppleness of Stags Leap District fruit. Aged a full four years prior to release (three years in Alliers and Troncais oak barrels and one year in the bottle), the Hillside Select is a wine with rich chocolate, blackberry and currant flavors and a soft, velvety texture.