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Shafer Vineyards traces its beginnings to 1972 when John Shafer left a 23-year career in the publishing industry and, with his family, moved to the Napa Valley to pursue a second career in wine. After purchasing a 210-acre estate in Napa Valley's Stags Leap District, the Shafer family faced the arduous task of replanting the existing vineyards, which dated to the 1920s, and terracing the steep and rocky hillsides, eventually expanding vineyard acreage to its current 50 acres. Evolving from grape growers to vintners, the Shafers crushed their first Cabernet grapes in 1978 and began construction on their winery a year later.
The first Shafer Cabernet became a benchmark, winning the acclaimed San Francisco Vintners Club taste-off upon release and, over a decade later taking first place in an international blind tasting held in Germany, where it outranked such wines as Chateau Margaux, Chateau Latour and Chateau Palmer. Doug Shafer became winemaker in 1983 after graduating from the University of California at Davis with a degree in enology and viticulture. A year later Elias Fernandez joined the winery as assistant winemaker. Together Doug and Elias have worked closely to forge the Shafer style of quality, consistency and elegance.
The first pour offers an endlessly rich density of meaty, smoky, black fruit aromas while the wine saturates the mouth with deep flavors of black licorice, bramble fruit, black pepper, all spice,bacon, and char. All of this opulence is energized with underlying acidity and bound together with structured, ripe tannins built for very long term ageability.
Blend: 89% Syrah, 11% Petite Sirah.
Wine AdvocateThe 2014 Relentless, made up of 89% Syrah and 11% Petite Sirah, is deep garnet-purple with a pronounced nose of black plums, blackberries and black cherries with touches of fragrant earth, black pepper and Indian spices plus a waft of lavender. Very big, full-bodied, opulent and laden with vibrant black fruits and spicy layers, it has firm, rounded tannins and seamless freshness, finishing long and peppery.
VinousShafer's 2014 Relentless is fabulous. The most expressive and varietally expressive of the three vintages of Relentless I tasted. In 2014, Relentless has 11% Petite Sirah, which, along with the personality of the year, kicks up the aromatics and flavors in a meaningful way. Lavender, mint, violets and crème de cassis notes are laced into the super-expressive finish. The 2014 is shaping up to be a real gem. Range: 92-95