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. (RP)
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. (ST)
Bright, saturated ruby to the rim. Deep, ripe aromas of black cherry, tobacco, mocha and earth, plus a complicating note of musky espresso. Plush, suave and very sweet but with terrific harmonious acidity framing the dark berry, spice, dark chocolate and mocha flavors. Wonderfully concentrated, broad, utterly seamless wine with noble tannins and outstanding length. Offers great appeal today but this may yet gain in complexity with more time in bottle. At my vertical tasting at Shafer in March, another outstanding bottle of the 2005 still needed a few more years of aging. (ST)
A seamless effort, very rich, polished and sophisticated, with pure, ripe wild berry and blackberry fruit and subtle notes of cedar, spice and mocha. A strong presence of black licorice emerges on the finish. The flavors keep on unfolding. (JL, Web only-2015)
Menthol, eucalyptus, and dark fruits with sweet tobacco jump out of the glass. Full bodied, with a soft velvety texture and lots of sweet, juicy fruit. Makes you think and relax. Hard to not to drink this but you should wait a few years if you can.
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.
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