(14.5% alcohol): 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.
Anticipated maturity: 2019-2033
Robert Parker 96
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 creme 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.
Anticipated maturity: 2014-2029