Shafer's 1997 Hillside Select is a magisterial wine, and my favourite example of this cuvée. Seriously endowed with fine-grained tannins, it needs some time in the decanter to open up, but when it does the aromatic display of cassis, blackberry, spring flowers and woodsmoke is magical. On the palate this wine is undeniably massive, but its savoury tannins confer a more classical character to the wine than one finds in, say, the super-ripe 2002 or 2007 vintages at this address. The 1997 Hillside is ageing very gracefully indeed, without any trace of over-ripeness or heat, and may even be a few years away from its profound best. It's a reference point for modern California Cabernet, and certainly one of the wines of the vintage. (WK)
The 1997 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is a relatively evolved style for Hillside Select and seemingly more advanced than the older vintages, such as 1995 and 1994. Nevertheless, there is plenty to excite. It’s a big wine, dense purple in color with some lightening at the edge, plenty of crème de cassis fruit, lead pencil shavings, sweet vanilla and earth. It is very ripe, full-bodied, opulent and voluptuously textured. This is terrific stuff, hedonistic, showing secondary/tertiary nuances in the aromatics and essentially a full resolution of the tannin. This wine also seems to have come into its own and is clearly at its peak of flavor. Drink it over the next 10-15 years. (RP)
Fabulous. Dominated now by oak, from the smoky charry aroma to the sappy, sweet flavor. If you chew on it, you find absolutely brilliant blackberry fruit, ripe and pure. Breathtaking structure, with near perfect creamy tannins and soft but supportive acidity. Gorgeous now in it's flamboyant, fleshy youth, or worth aging-have it your way.
A bit of dusty spice tags this one as just a wee bit different in the nose, but the wine's deep, curranty fruit, accents of milk chocolate and close-to-plush feel are very much the stuff of its winemaker and provenance. While never abrasive, this year's version comes with an extra measure of fine-grained structural tannins, and the wine will benefit from be buried in the back of the cellar for at least another five years. *Two Stars*
Bright saturated ruby to the rim. Brooding blackberry, dark cherry and licorice aromas show both medicinal and superripe aspects. Rather suave and tight-grained on entry, then high-pitched, thick and very sweet--in fact almost liqueur-like--in the middle, conveying a slightly chunky character to its dark fruit and licorice flavors. Huge material here but still a bit unevolved and hard to warm to. I wanted more shape, clarity and elegance but this wine, amazingly, still needs time. Finishes with big, chewy tannins. This bottle was a bit less plush than the one I tasted in 2016 as part of an extensive vertical tasting at Shafer Vineyards but appears to have a considerably longer life ahead of it. (ST) 92+
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