Back on track after its relatively austere showing the year prior, Hillside Select rebounds in 1996 with one of its richest, most succulent renditions to date. Currants, black cherries and sweet oak abound still, and the wine does a fine balancing act between being slightly supple and polished and still having an appropriate backbone of varietal tannins. It outdoes the vintage in terms of its richness and range and sheer wealth of fruit, and it has the right pieces in all the right places to grow for a good many years. *Three Stars*
A drought year produced the 1996 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select, which is slightly more compact than great vintages, but nevertheless impressive. It offers further evidence that even in more challenging years, the Hillside Select is a special wine. Dense plum/purple with notes of cedarwood, charcoal, underbrush and forest, the wine has plenty of cassis, a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, ripe tannin, but a slightly less impressive finish than the 1995 or 1994. This wine seems to be in its plateau of full maturity, where it should hold for at least another 10-12 years. (RP)
Saturated ruby-red. Dusty aromas of black cherry, currant, licorice and menthol. Sweet, lush and velvety; fat and full. A generous, fruit-driven, impressively long wine with enticing currant and black plum flavors. Very ripe tannins coat the palate. (ST)
Starts out smooth, showing rich, earthy currant, hazelnut and nutmeg scents, with a hint of mocha and dense, chewy tannins. Still very youthful, firm and extracted. (JL, Web-2007)
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