2015 This rich, polished hillside Cabernet Sauvignon overflows with briary black fruit, juicy black cherry, racy dried cranberry, black licorice, and freshly cracked pepper with elegant touches of cedar, baking spice, and wet stone. The finish is generous and persistent, while the tannins are ripe and integrated offering both a pleasurable experience now and the kind of structure that promises even more beauty with time.
he Hillside Select is made of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from Shafer's rugged hillside vineyards in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District. On release the wine offers rich elegance, youthful exuberance, and fine balance introducing itself with enticing, vivid aromatics. In the glass you’ll find complex flavors of blackberry, cassis, black cherry, dark chocolate, smoke, spice, savory herbs and a touch of vanilla. The tannins are ripe offering refined texture, holding out great promise for decades of cellar age. Considered by Shafer to be a "wine of a place," in the European sense of the word, this Cabernet exemplifies the richness and suppleness consistently produced in the heart of Stags Leap District. Hillside Select is aged a full four years prior to release (three years in Alliers and Tronçais oak barrels and 15 months in the bottle). While enjoyable today, this wine will gain richness and maturity with up to 20 years of careful cellaring.
I was able to taste four vintages of the estate's flagship Cabernet Sauvignon, their Hillside Select. This first growth-like cuvée was first made in 1978 and always comes from their estate Hillside Vineyard just above their estate in Stags Leap. This is a 54-acre south-facing, amphitheater-like vineyard of thin, rocky, volcanic soils. Today the cuvée is always 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that spends upwards of 32 months in new French oak. It is consistently one of the greatest Cabernet Sauvignons in the world. Starting with their 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select, it boasts a deep, saturated purple hue as well as a heavenly bouquet of sweet blueberry and cassis fruits interwoven with plenty of graphite, tobacco, and lead pencil notes, with ample minerality emerging with time in the glass. This was a hot, low-yielding vintage for Napa, and while this beauty is massively concentrated, it's also silky and seamless, with great tannins, no sense of over-ripeness or heaviness, and a finish that goes on for nearly a minute. This is a brilliant, incredibly sexy wine to enjoy over the coming 30-40 years.
Very deep purple-black in color, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select comes bounding out of the glass with gregarious scents of crème de cassis, warm black cherries, plum preserves and Indian spices with hints of lilacs, garrigue, stewed tea and cigar box plus a waft of charcuterie. Full-bodied, rich, boldly fruited and wildly decadent, it has a rock-solid frame of grainy tannins and compelling freshness, finishing with loads of earthy and savory layers.
Having spent three years in barrel, this 100% varietal wine (from the producer's famous hillside) is brawny in concentrated black fruit, Christmas spice and thick, firm tannin. A dusty thread of crushed rock, black licorice and flint provide exotic accents to the velvety thick grip. This will do well over time; enjoy best from 2025-2030.
The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is a total knock-out. Given the heat and tiny yields of the year, one might reasonably expect a big wine; this, however, has really grown into an elegant, polished Cabernet. Silky, perfumed and rich, the 2015 is exquisitely beautiful, super-elegant and expressive. Gorgeous dark red/purplish fruit, floral and spice inflections lead into the beautifully persistent finish.
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