The SOMM Journal

June / July 2015

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66 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } JUNE/JULY 2015 { cellar view } The View from the Hillside OUR LOS ANGELES PANEL SCALES THE HEIGHTS OF SHAFER HILLSIDE SELECT by Anthony Dias Blue / photos by Cal Bingham John Shafer, a successful textbook publisher from Chicago, moved his family to the Napa Valley in 1972. In a decision that he describes as "dumb luck," he bought a hillside parcel on the east side of the valley in an area that would eventually become the Stags Leap District. In 1978 Shafer made the first vintage of what was to become a Napa legend: Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon. Made from the best barrels from the best vineyard blocks, this wine is one of the region's stars. John is semi-retired now and his son, Doug, runs the winery. The wine is made by Elias Fernandez. On May 6, 2015, an exclusive SOMM Journal vertical tasting took place in Los Angeles of eight recent vintages of this celebrated wine. 1997 HILLSIDE SELECT Anthony Dias Blue: "Deep ruby color, with plum and mature blackberry notes on the nose laced with spice. Bright and smooth in the mouth, with a fresh and supple finish." Daniel Bailey: "Subtle nose with a nice balance of oak, spice and fruit. The palate is elegant and reminiscent of black currant. The '97 vintage is known for elegance and high quality." Trey Beffa: "Ripe and intense nose, with lots of fruit and heat. Seems a little closed on the mid-palate and finish. 1997 isn't my favorite vintage, but this wine shows well." Karen Moneymaker: "Leads with purple fruit and floral (plum, cassis and a touch of violet), with a compact and fresh palate. Not especially long, with bright acidity and soft tannins." Group rating: 93. Drink now –2020. A vertical of the Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon, with a handful of vintages ranging from 1997 to 2010. THE PANELISTS Anthony Dias Blue, Editor-in-Chief, The SOMM Journal. Trey Beffa, Vice President and Domestic Wine Buyer for K&L Wine Merchants. Daniel Bailey, Sommelier at Mastro's Steakhouse, Beverly Hills. Karen Moneymaker, Senior Editor, The SOMM Journal. "These are all excellent wines that are pure Napa Cabernet!" —Trey Beffa "These wines express the entire Napa Valley. Each vintage was so different. Built for aging, with no 'house style.' The vineyard shows off the vintage." —Daniel Bailey

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