The 1991 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select represents the beginning of a new era where sterile filtration was halted, after which the quality of most vintages soared to new heights. They may also have been picking riper fruit, as Napa Valley was in the midst of enjoying some fabulous vintages in what would turn out to be a Golden Era for its wineries. The 1991 is the finest Hillside Select of the early 1990s, although the 1992, 1994, 1995, 1997 and 1998 are close in quality. A stunning nose of licorice, vanillin, unsmoked cigar tobacco, crème de cassis and cedarwood are present in this multilayered, full-bodied, opulent, super-concentrated wine. It still possesses an opaque ruby/purple color to the rim. At age 23, this beauty is just hitting its plateau of full maturity. (RP)
We liked this wine when first released some dozen years back, and we like it even more now. While it still shows a trace of herbaceousness, it is simply loaded with deep, well-extracted fruit and rich oak, and it is every inch Cabernet in terms of its solid structure. If anything, it still needs some years in the cellar, and we can see it improving for another decade or more. *Two Stars*
More saturated, fresher color than the 1990. Multifaceted, rather wild aromas of black raspberry, dried herbs, game, gunflint, leather, truffle and brown spices. Plush, gamey, ripe and generous, but at the same time nicely juicy thanks to lovely harmonious acidity. This savory, captivating Cabernet finishes with supple tannins and excellent lift. The product of a long, cool growing season (the harvest began on October 4, more than two weeks later than average), and it shows. A beauty at the quarter-century mark. (ST)
Rich and plush, deeply concentrated, with complex currant, coffee and cedar, and a twinge of stalky bell pepper and green bean. Finishes with tobacco notes and firm tannins. Turns herbal, but has a long way to go. (JL, Web Only-2002)
Very, very deep purple. Black cherry. Round, full, suave, and very appetising. Tannins now quite soft. Nicely refreshing dry end and acidity. 18/20 points.
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