Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Hillside Select is aged a full four years prior to release (three years in Alliers and Tronçais oak barrels and one year in the bottle). While enjoyable today, this wine will... View More
One of the world’s great wines and profound expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon, is the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select. This wine spends more than 30 months in 100% new oak, and, year in year out, has been one of the most singular and profound examples of Cabernet Sauvignon in the world. It seems Shafer began to ratchet up performance during the 1990s, and the first decade of the 21st century has provided a treasure trove of either perfect or nearly perfect wines, including the 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 and more recently the 2010, 2012 and, in all likelihood, the 2013. The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select (about 2,000 cases produced) is another one of those “wow” wines, but it does it with a sort of measured richness and restraint and extraordinary subtle character, like the Gary Cooper of Napa Cabernet Sauvignons – authentic, tall, straight-boned, but substantial and worthy of introspection. Inky purple, with a classic nose of creme de cassis, licorice, a touch of vanilla and forest floor, the wine hits the palate with a gorgeous display of measured, but substantial fruit, body and intensity. Not a component is out of place, and the wine remarkably pure and persuasive. Combine great winemaking with great viticulture and a special terroir, and this is the result. Readers are in the presence of genius when tasting this wine.
Bright ruby-red. Pure, vibrant aromas of blackberry, cassis, lead pencil, violet, licorice and minerals. Wonderfully fine-grained and deep, with sharp definition and lovely floral high notes to the flavors of blueberry, cassis and spice. Finishes with noble, suave tannins and outstanding slow-building length. This 100% cabernet wine has all the elements to make an outstanding bottle. Winemaker Fernandez, who rates it with the 2002 and 2001 as his favorites among recent vintages, described the crop level of 2.5 tons per acre as "on the high side" and the largest since the '97, which came in at over 3.0.
The texture is often what sets Hillside Select apart from other Napa Valley cabernets, the gentleness of its tannins managing to maintain the wine's shape and contour without flattening out. It appears to be seamless, sleek in the best sense of the word-a luxurious wine that feels authentic. Part of that is the cool, foresty mushroom flavor at the heart of the tannin; another part the beautiful balance between the tannins and the layers of dark fruit. A fine vintage of Hillside Select, this glows with the contemporary ripeness of Napa Valley cabernet without overreaching.
Nothing short of bombastic and simply brimming with very ripe currants and extravagant oak, Shafer's flagship is again a wine of admirable richness and size with little regard for subtlety or restraint. It is gloriously full and close to unctuous in feel yet is never less than remarkably balanced for the big-bodied wine that it is, and, it is on the strength of balance combined with its extract and depth that this one guarantees five to ten years of improvement.
Generous ripe plum, black cherry and currant flavors are supple and focused, complex and balanced. Full-bodied and focused, ending with a long, layered finish that picks up anise, cedar and mineral notes. Cabernet Sauvignon. Tasted three times, with consistent notes.