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Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District 2018  - First Bottle


100 Jeb Dunnuck -
Incredible purity and precision, as well as opulence, define the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select, and this is as good as any Cabernet Sauvignon in the world today. Revealing a deep purple hue as well as a thrilling bouquet of pure crème de cassis, black raspberries, spring flowers, lead pencil shavings, and an incredible minerality, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a deep, layered, seamless texture, ample mid-palate depth, and a great finish. This is classic 2018 Napa Valley with its purity, freshness and precision as well as sensational concentration and perfectly integrated acidity, tannins, and alcohol. It delivers pleasure today yet warrants a solid 4-5 years of bottle age and is going to be a 30- to 40-year wine.
99 James Suckling -
So much black licorice in this, together with tar, blackcurrants, blackberries and slate. Full-bodied, but very toned and focused, with polish and energy. Extremely fine tannins and wonderful length. All about balance and purity. Gorgeous now, but this will age for decades to come. Great finish. Better after 2026.
98+ Robert Parker's Wine Advocate -
Made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select displays a deep garnet-purple color. It charges out of the gate with bold crème de cassis, blueberry pie and black cherry preserves notes, plus hints of smoked meats, fragrant earth and tar, with a fragrant waft of violets and Provence herbs. Full-bodied, the palate is packed with muscular black fruits, supported by a solid foundation of firm, grainy tannins and compelling freshness, finishing long with an enticing herbal lift.
98 Vinous -
Just as it was from barrel, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is stunning. Bright acids give the 2018 tons of energy. This is an especially mid-weight, refined Hillside Select that is all class. Dark blue/purplish fruit, lavendar, spice, mint and blood orange build in the glass. Elegant and bright, the 2018 shows all the energy of the year in spades.
95 Wine Spectator -
Frankly ripe but well-focused, with blackberry and creamed boysenberry notes flowing through atop a polished structure, while cocoa and black licorice frame the finish. A subtle hint of sassafras lingers on the finish, adding textural nuance. This has the stuffing to age well, too. Drink now through 2038. 2,400 cases made.

Technical Details

  • BlendCabernet Sauvignon
  • WinemakerElias Fernandez
  • CountryUS
  • RegionCalifornia North Coast
  • AppellationStags Leap District
  • VineyardHillside Estate Vineyards
  • Farming MethodCertified Sustainable and Practicing Organic
  • Alcohol15.5%

Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District 2018

Cabernet Blends  |  US
JD100, JS99, WA98+, VN98, WS95

Certified Sustainable and Practicing Organic
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"Year in and year out, this is one of the superstar wineries, not only in Napa Valley and all of California but in the entire world... One of the world’s great wines and profound expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon. The quality of the wines soared to first-growth standards, and have remained there for the last twenty-plus years.” - Robert Parker

The year was 2004, and I had an opportunity to buy several bottles of 1978 Shafer Cab (first vintage!) and it was, and is, a revelation. Simply put, nothing has changed. These wines, from the quiet masterwork winemaking of Elias Fernandez (truly, one of the greatest people and winemakers in the Valley), remain rock-solid, polished, powerful and beautifully well-made wines in the entire Valley, year after year.

The 2018 Hillside is a stunning wine from a pitch-perfect vintage. Always an early site, these south-facing hillside vineyards were fully picked before the fires. There are few wines in the world that can match the consistency and excellence of Hillside Select. Grown on the rocky, volcanic hillsides of the Stag's Leap palisades o the winery 60+ acre estate, the intensity, purity and silky tannins are a signature of this site.

About the Producer

John Shafer uprooted his family from Chicago in 1972, and bought 209 acres in what would later become Stag's Leap District. He quickly planted a small parcel of Cabernet in the hillsides above the winery at the advice of Nathan Fay and created his first wine from that planting in 1978, a precursor to their legendary Hillside Select. John's son Doug joined the family biz in 1983 and has helped shepard the winery into the international limelight. The hillside select is sourced from 14 small vineyard plots planted on rock and volcanic soils. The poor soils leads to small yields and small berries and go through meticulous sorting to ensure the best quality grapes go into this exquisite wine.