2018 SHAFER "Relentless" Napa Valley


¥19,580 (incl. tax)

Doug Shafer suggested naming this Syrah/Petite Sirah blend “Relentless” because he felt it captured the drive and energy of the wine as well as the winemaker, Elias Fernandez. The wine has flavors that burst on the palate and stimulate the pleasure sensors long after the glass has been put down. The blend of 76% Syrah and 24% 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, Relentless has excellent balance and compact, chalky tannins. Critics love this wine. Jeb Dunnuck awarded the 2018 Relentless 98 points, likening it to “a great Cornas on steroids with its gamy, exotic character paired with beautiful richness,” and lauding its “fabulous purity, ripe, polished tannins, and great finish.” 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 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 2018
Color Red
Varietal(s) 76% Syrah, 24% 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 SH18SH
UPC 013528700024

Owning & Enjoying

Tasting notes

98 points – Jeb Dunnuck; 97 points – James Suckling; 94 points – Wine Spectator.

Inky black/purple. Aromas range from blackberries and violets to smoked meats and peppery spice, while the palate extends through layers of plum, black cherry, tea, tobacco, slate, and graphite. The opulence is balanced by acidity and ripe tannins in the long finish.



76% Syrah and 24% Petite Sirah were co-fermented in stainless steel and aged 30 months in 100% new 60-gallon French oak barrels.

Review this Wine