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Hillside Select Story


Early September will see the release of the highly anticipated 2017 vintage of this legendary wine. Already scores are stratospheric and demand high. Please email expression of interest and we will endeavour to allocate as fairly as possible (shop@jnwine.com or jane@jnwine.com) . The 2017 vintage will be shipped late Spring 2022 but we have some stock of back vintages here, ready for delivery and either for immediate drinking or further cellaring. For those of you yet to make the acquaintance, this is the story of the Shafer family’s most famous wine:

Hillside Select is sourced from a collection of 14 small vineyard blocks planted within an eons-old amphitheater-like structure of rock and volcanic soil that surrounds the winery. Thanks to scant soil nutrients and moisture, yields at harvest are meager and the berries are small, about the size of blueberries. This Stags Leap District site’s combination of rugged, arid soil and climate results in lush Cabernet Sauvignon fruit with dark color and intense, classic flavor.

Shafer’s property has been the site of vineyard cultivation since the 1880s, but it wasn’t until the 1970s when John Shafer came to Napa Valley looking for a hillside site, that vines were planted on these rock-choked slopes.

 

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Napa Valley viticulture was a different world in the 1970s, when Shafer acquired the neglected vineyards planted 50 years earlier by a farmer named Batista Scansi. White varietals sometimes grew side by side with red, modern trellising was unknown, and existing vineyards had been planted with little regard to what is now known about the relationship between terroir and varietal.

In the 1980s, Doug Shafer, John’s son, began a program of sustainable agriculture, planting native cover crops to offer cover to beneficial and predacious insects, control erosion, and serve as compost when the greens were turned into the soil at the end of their growing cycle. Above ground, Shafer erected hawk perches and barn owl boxes to attract birds of prey to naturally control unwanted rodents (this eliminated the need for rodent poisons). Each year, the thin soil of the hillside vineyards is enriched, and the reliance on chemicals in the vineyard is eliminated.

From the first vintage, the wine from the hillside vineyards showed the same intense fruit and velvety texture year after year. It was an expression of the land, a wine of a place, and it became Shafer’s signature wine, Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon.

The wine ages in new French oak barrels for 32 months prior to bottling and rests for another year in the bottle before it is ready for release. In the end only about 2,400 cases of Shafer’s signature wine are produced each year, offered on a limited basis to lovers of fine wine and to top restaurants and hotels in selected markets throughout the world.

2017 Hillside Select


“In the running for the wine of the vintage, the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is an incredible success and offers more depth opulence and purity than just about every other wine out there. Revealing a dense purple colour as well as a killer nose of blueberries chocolate covered cherries, scorched earth, tobacco, violets and exotic spices, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a seamless, pure, incredibly layered mouthfeel, building tannins, and a great, great finish. …..hats off to Doug Shafer and the team…” Jeb Dunnock, Wine Advocate 98 points. POA

Download PDF Hillside 2017

 

2016 Hillside Select


The 2016 Hillside Select is a classic, balanced, powerful Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the rugged hillside vineyards in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District. “The rich, densely packed, full-bodied palate is at once thrillingly hedonic and perfectly poised … tons of freshness, finishing epically long and with stunning opulence. Bravo!” — Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate POA

 

2015 Hillside Select


This rich, polished hillside Cabernet Sauvignon overflows with briary black fruit, juicy black cherry, racy dried cranberry, black licorice, and freshly cracked pepper with elegant touches of cedar, baking spice, and wet stone. The finish is generous and persistent, while the tannins are ripe and integrated offering both a pleasurable experience now and the kind of structure that promises even more beauty with time. Drink now – 20 years POA

 

2014 Vintage


Opens with an aromatic wave of deep, intense fruit and spices such as black plum, blackberry pie filling, cassis, and anise, along with nutmeg, dark toast, and dried rose pedals. The youthful energy in the nose is just as dramatic in the mouth with open, beautiful ripeness, mocha, briar fruit, pomegranate, baking spice, and ripe tannins that collectors will recognize as offering the promise of sensational things to come in the cellar. Drink now – 19 years POA

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