2017 Shafer "Relentless" Napa Valley

2017 Shafer

¥18,480 (incl. tax)

Named for the spirit and drive of Shafer’s winemaker, Elias Fernandez, the adjective, Relentless, brilliantly captures the energy in this wine, with flavors that seem to explode on the palate and go and go and go long after you’ve put down your glass. The blend of 85% Syrah and 14% Petite Sirah is sourced from two hillside sites just south of Stags Leap AVA. Although the dark-skinned Petite Sirah (a.k.a. Durif), no longer exists in France, its ability to deepen color and add tannic structure makes it an excellent “blend partner” with Syrah. Despite the power (e.g. 15.8% abv), Relentless has excellent balance and soft, fleshy tannins. Critics love this wine. Jeb Dunnuck awarded the 2017 Relentless 94 points, describing it as “a beautiful Syrah that offers lots of smoky dark berry fruits, barbecue notes, spice, and meaty nuances in a rich, pure, nicely textured, medium to full-bodied package.” Relentless will improve for a decade or more, but right now you would not regret opening a bottle to enjoy with braised ribs, lamb shanks, duck or beef - especially with syrah-based sauces.

Winery


Winery Description

In the Stags Leap District, Cabernet Sauvignon is king. The well-drained volcanic soils and climate cooled by regular San Pablo Bay fogs produce cabs that are silky, supple and voluptuous: “an iron fist in a velvet glove.” While the Stags Leap District is now world class, when John Shafer moved his family there from Chicago in 1973, it was a place of rocky hillsides and rundown vineyards and orchards. At that time, “up-valley” was the focus of premium winemaking whereas this rocky corner of the valley did not even have an agreed-upon name. But as the land was affordable and had supported vineyards in the past, John Shafer decided it was the place to pursue his dream in wine.

Shafer Vineyards is a moderately-sized, family-owned operation whose pursuit of quality in both viticulture and winemaking helped define not only their own winery but the Stags Leap District as well. At the start it was just John and his son Doug doing everything, from terracing the hillsides, to planting vines, to making and selling the wine. Doug was only 17 when he began helping his father transform the old farm into a modern vineyard. He went on to study enology at UC Davis and became Shafer’s winemaker in 1983. Success came quickly to Shafer Vineyards, with its very first vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon winning the prestigious San Francisco Vintner’s Club taste-off. Shafer’s Hillside Select, the winery’s showcase made from 100% Cabernet grown on the steep slopes surrounding the winery, became a benchmark that epitomized the complexity, richness and elegance of the Stags Leap District. While Shafer built its reputation on its Cabernets, the winery also produces Merlot and Syrah from estate vineyards just outside the Stags Leap District as well as Chardonnay from Carneros. Shafer’s 2008 Relentless, a blend of Syrah and Petite Syrah was selected as Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year for 2012.  Despite success and high demand for its wines, Shafer Vineyards chose to remain small enough to be manageable, capping growth at about 32,000 cases. In addition to John and Doug Shafer, that team includes Elias Fernandez, who joined in 1984 and has been winemaker since 1994. The charm of drinking a glass of Shafer wine comes from knowing that the folks who made it are so intimately acquainted with the land, the vineyards and even the individual vines. In this age of global conglomerates, it is a quality that deserves to be cherished.

About this Wine


Country USA
Region California
Appellation(s) Napa Valley
Winery Shafer
Vintage 2017
Color Red
Varietal(s) 86% Syrah, 14% Petite Sirah
Closure Cork
Volume 750ml
Bottle Size 9.0 x 30.5
Case Size 37.5 x 28.5 x 31.5
Alcohol 15.8%
Product Code SH17SH
UPC 013528700024

Owning & Enjoying


Tasting notes

94 points – Jeb Dunnuck; 94 points – Wine Spectator; 92 points – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

Inky black/purple. Aromas and flavors modulate from black plums, intense blueberries and violets through layers of black pepper, olives, espresso, grilled meat, herbs and leather. The opulence is balanced by acidity and supple tannins that encourage a long finish.

Production


Vinification

86% Syrah and 14% Petite Sirah were co-fermented in stainless steel and aged 30 months in 100% new 60-gallon French oak barrels.

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