The sensational 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon One Point Five, which is their Stags Leap blend of 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petit Verdot aged 20 months in 70% new oak barrels, of which half are French and half American. It’s the latter component that surprised me, because whatever American oak they’re using is wonderfully subtle and well-integrated. This wine has an opaque purple color and a beautiful nose of charcoal, graphite, blackberry and an essence of gorgeously pure creme de cassis fruit mixed with spring flowers. With impeccably and flawlessly integrated oak, acidity and tannin, this full-bodied yet elegant and stunning wine is just coming into its plateau of maturity, where it should stay for another 10-15 years. Like the Merlot, this tips the scales at 14.9% alcohol. It is unlikely there is a more consistent winery performing at such a high level of quality than Shafer. The patriarch, John Shafer, has two extraordinary four-star generals working under him – his son Doug and long-time winemaker Elias Fernandez. They are seemingly incapable of fumbling any vintage or varietal. When you consider that they make Chardonnay, a Rhone-Ranger blend, Merlot and several Cabernets, few wineries have equaled their quality level over the last 25 years, which is, for a wine critic who has been doing this for 37 years, simply remarkable – somewhat like local hero Cal Ripken’s consecutive game streak. (RP)
Good deep bright ruby. Complex aromas and flavors of cassis, leather, earth, game, tobacco and sexy smoky oak, with a minty nuance emerging with air. Creamy-sweet and expansive in the mouth, with an almost exotic character to the intense fruit. As lush as this is, though, it maintains firm shape. Finishes with substantial broad, dusty tannins and impressive lingering sweetness. (ST)
Rich, deep and complex, with a complex mix of fleshy currant, dried berry, anise, sage and mineral, framed by light cedary oak. Gains depth and complexity on the finish. Elegant and stylish. (JL)
Moderately fruity, nicely extracted and showing highlights of loam and woodsy spice in its ample aromas, this rounded and fairly full-bodied effort is all about ripe cherries on the palate and smacks faintly of good Merlot in its juicy style. It finds plenty of firming Cabernet Sauvignon tannins on the back end, however, and it very much needs a good four or five years before reaching its best form. *One Star*
Full-bodied, rich and yet keenly balanced, with a refreshing close. Deep plum, cherry and cassis, plus lavender, black olive and oak spice. Tannins are round yet substantial enough for short-term cellaring. (LM)
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