Hillside Select is a wine of a place, produced each vintage from carefully selected blocks of the hillside vineyards surrounding the winery. These grapes are small and deeply colored, with concentrated flavors enhanced by meticulous winemaking and extensive aging in French oak barrels. Hillside Select consistently expresses the voluptuous fruit, rich flavors and velvety texture that characterize grapes grown in Stags Leap District.
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.