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2011 Hillside Select® Cabernet Sauvignon

Release date: September 1, 2015
Suggested California retail: $250.00

“… one of the New World’s most profound Cabernet Sauvignons …”
— Robert M. Parker, Jr., The Wine Advocate

“… one of California’s best and most sought-after reds, routinely ranked among Napa’s elite.”
— James Laube, Wine Spectator

We are thrilled to offer 2011 Hillside Select, a 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from our rugged hillside vineyards in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District. This release offers classic richness, youthful elegance and texture. The wine introduces itself with alluring, perfumy aromatics followed by flavors of blackberry, cassis, black cherry, dark chocolate, smoke, peppery spice and a touch of vanilla. The tannins are ripe and refined, holding out great promise for decades of cellar age.

Truly a "wine of a place," this Cabernet Sauvignon exemplifies the extraordinary richness and suppleness consistently produced in our little valley within a valley in the heart of Stags Leap District.

Hillside Select is aged a full four years prior to release (three years in Alliers and Tronçais oak barrels and 15 months in the bottle). While enjoyable today, this wine will gain richness and maturity with up to 20 years of careful cellaring.


Growing season
The cool weather in spring continued into the sunny, mild summer, holding fruit development to
a slow, even pace. With extra work in the vineyard, pruning away all less than ideal fruit, we
enjoyed a harvest of beautiful clusters loaded with elegant, enticing flavor.

Winemaker’s Notes
“After three years in barrel and another year in bottle, this Hillside Select offers youthful vibrancy along with the promise of the riches of age. Both in the nose and in the mouth it’s brimming with mulberry and bramble fruit as well as  tantalizing layers of chocolate, black truffle, tobacco, herbs, nutmeg, cinnamon and, a slate-like minerality. The brightness of the vintage’s acidity follows all the way through to the long, lifted finish.”
– Shafer winemaker Elias Fernandez

Related Links
2011 Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon Fact Sheet
2015 Current Releases
The Hillside Select® Story
Shafer Brochure
Hillside Select Brochure
Finding Our Wines
Robert M. Parker Jr.’s The Wine Advocate,
October 2014

Hillside Select – A Complete Video Collection

Parker and Galloni revisit 2002 Hillside Select
Hillside Select – History and Pedigree
John Shafer gives an overview of what it took to create his family winery and produce his first Cabernet Sauvignon. That first Shafer wine, sourced from his first hillside vines, set the tone for today’s Hillside Select.

Parker and Galloni revisit 2002 Hillside Select
Hillside Select in the Vineyard
Doug Shafer and Elias Fernandez go in depth on the specific techniques we
use to begin making Hillside Select in the vineyard.
Part 1: Pruning, planting cover crop, trellising
Part 2: Fruit thinning, leafing, berry selection
Part 3: Tasting, testing, harvesting

Hillside Select in the Cellar
Hillside Select in the Cellar
Doug Shafer and Elias Fernandez discuss the continuation of the winemaking process as the work moves into the cellar after harvest.
Part 1: Sorting, destemming, crushing
Part 2: Fermenting, pressing, barrel aging

Show all VintagesHillside Select® Tasting Notes

  • 2011
  • 2010
  • 2009
  • 2008
  • 2007
  • 2006
  • 2005
  • 2004
  • 2003
  • 2002
  • 2001
  • 2000
  • 1999
  • 1998
  • 1997
  • 1996
  • 1995
  • 1994
  • 1993
  • 1992
  • 1991
  • 1990
  • 1989
  • 1988
  • 1987
  • 1986
  • 1985
  • 1984
  • 1983
2011 After three years in barrel and another year in bottle, this Hillside Select® offers youthful vibrancy along with the promise of the riches of age. Both in the nose and in the mouth it’s brimming with mulberry and bramble fruit as well as tantalizing layers of chocolate, black truffle, tobacco, herbs, nutmeg, cinnamon and a slate-like minerality, that brings the 2008 Hillside Select to mind. The brightness of the vintage’s acidity follows all the way through to the long, lifted finish. Drink now – 20 years
2010 This is classic Cabernet Sauvignon from our rugged hillsides, exuding dramatic, rich color, high-toned, elegant aromas and full, refined flavors of dark cherry, cassis, espresso, sweet vanilla and wet earth with enticing rose pedal, cranberry, blueberry, oregano and sage. The lush, mouthfilling complexity in your glass is completed with ripe, smooth-textured tannins and a persistent finish that won’t let go. Drink now – 20 years
2009 The lengthy cool growing season endowed this wine with inky, midnight color, lively aromas and luxuriant flavors of black fruit that are rich and juicy down to the core, with enticing layers of cocoa, black tea, spice, subtle toast and the kind of mouthfeel you only get with ripe, silky Stags Leap District tannins. A pleasing overall balance keeps the elements together giving the wine a delicious sense of completeness. Drink now – 18/20 years
2008 Aromatic elegance leads to rich, focused flavors of blackberry, black cherry, dark chocolate, cola, cassis, juicy black and red cherry, black tea, with spice and warm toast. Ripe, silken tannins result in a pleasing, lengthy finish, smooth texture, and a refined structure which offers the potential for very long term aging. Drink now – 18 years
2007 Our 25th vintage of Hillside Select offers hallmark Stags Leap District aromas and flavors of black fruit, mocha, black plums, cassis, juicy black and red cherry, black tea, with spice and warm toast. Ripe, silken tannins result in a pleasing, lengthy finish, smooth texture, and a seamless structure which offers the potential for very long term aging. Drink now – 17 years.
2006 The bottle opens to aromatic beauty followed in the mouth with a core of juicy, black fruit, chocolate, black plums, cassis, black and red cherry, black tea, and vanilla and spice. Ripe tannins put together good structure for long term aging. Drink now – 15/16 years
2005From a year of abundant fruit we selected only the best-of-the-best from our small vineyard blocks. Enticing aromas of blackberry and cassis followed by flavors of black cherry, currant, cassis liqueur, black plum, dark chocolate, spice and tobacco. The juiciness of these flavors comes in a knitting of ripe, round tannins. Drink now – 16 years
2004 This Hillside Select offers a striking balance of dark, lush fruit with the elegance of nearly a decade of age. These are the enduring aromas and flavors of our hillside grapes –blackberry, cassis, dark chocolate, juicy black cherry, black pepper integrated nicely with oak, char and vanilla all tied up in a bow of silky, firm, easy-to-enjoy tannin.   Drink now – 14 years
2003 The aromas of blackberry, black cherry and spice combine lushness and perfume while the wine fills the mouth with a rich cassis, blackberry, toasty vanilla, mocha, herbs, and a seamless integration of soft, ripe Stags Leap District tannins. Expansive and juicy in the mouth with flavors that remain long after the glass is empty. Drink now – 13 years
2002 This Hillside Select is archetypal Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon from a justly celebrated Napa Valley vintage. The movement from nose to mouth to supple tannin to lengthy finish is harmonious, offering a round, expansive, silky liquid feast of black cherry, rich plum, black fruit, cassis, and dark chocolate shot through with toasty vanilla, blueberry, and cedar. Drink now – 14 years
2001 From a legendary vintage this Hillside Select offers aromatic, elegant black berry, currant, black cherry, cola, and cassis; rich, stylish dark fruit flavors, with a balanced seasoning of minerals, smoke, vanilla, tobacco, and herbs; a core of sweetness is the prelude to a long finish of chocolate and spice surrounded by the classic silky tannins of the Stags Leap District.   Drink now – 12/13 years
2000 Shows a pleasing range of aromatics — black fruit, pepper, mineral, sweet-spicy vanilla, dried herbs and dense purple-midnight color. Beginning to show age characteristics of cedar and tea. A core of sweetness and supple, mature tannins from our small-berried hillside fruit spread a rounded, rich feel in the mouth and a lengthy finish. Drink now – 5 years
1999 Offers aromatic brightness and fullness in the mouth with plenty of raspberry, blackberry, cola and a richness of fruit; showing more mature notes of tobacco, herbs and minerals and a core of sweetness. This generously proportioned wine offers a long, lingering after taste. Drink now – 7 years
1998 We wish we had more of this one in our cellar. It’s lovely. Deep color at the core of the glass with soft tannins and luscious fruit typical of our hillside vineyards with a compelling blend of currants, vanilla and mineral in the mouth and a long  finish. This was our first vintage to perform berry selection in the vineyard ensuring that the fruit we harvested was the best of the vintage. That work shows here.  Drink now – 4 years
1997 After an extended youth, this Hillside Select is moving beautifully past primary fruit with elegant characteristics of cedar, tea and tobacco. Even so, it continues to offer rich mouthfeel, dark color, with flavors of chocolate, spice, and black fruit. A long finish of mocha, vanilla and smoke is tied up with the classic tannins of the Stags Leap District. Drink now – 9 years
1996 With more herbs, cedar, and tea than its ’97 sibling, this vintage offers alluring aromatics and elegantly balanced fruit flavors. In the glass you’ll find deep color with a ring of brick at the edge, as well as a silky texture and maturing fruit, showing plush black currant and dark spice with a long finish.  Drink now - 3/4 years
1995 Shows richness, composure and lovely, dark-fruit complexity. Powerful, ripe and elegant, with velvety brick color and maturing Cabernet flavors. Rich with great depth of flavor and a lingering finish. Drink now – 3/4 years
1994 From one of the watershed years where a great vintage and winemaking experience came together. Showing delicate, complex layers of tea, cedar, tobacco and leather. This is bottle bouquet in a delicious phase.   Drink now – 2/3 years
1993 A very complete wine in a more subtle way than 1994; this one almost seems like it belongs in a line-up of our Hillside Selects from the late 1980s. Showing mature color with a brick-red rim; oak toast, plums and nice earth/mineral notes in the nose. Refined, expansive fruit that has pleasing depth and finesse. Drink now
1992 Enjoying the full pleasures of age in its aroma and flavor profile; balanced and structured with tannins that have reconciled with the fruit. Amber at the edges of the glass. A smooth, seamless wine. Long finish. Showing bottle bouquet. Drink now
1991 Deep color in the center of the glass with red/orange at the edges, dense flavors, juicy fruit, great length, and richness. Complexities are still developing.  Drink now
1990 Beautiful color with flavors and aromas of  tea, herbs, spice, blackberries, cedar and developing mushroom. Mature and balanced with a silky texture and pleasing finish.  Drink now
1989 Complex, mature Cabernet aromas that lead to flavors of dried herb, black tea, and cedar. Soft tannins. Still sweet with nice length. Drink now
1988 Medium dark color, floral notes in the nose. Medium bodied, mature Cabernet flavors and moderate tannins. Drink now
1987 Mature, herbal aromas. Complex Cabernet Sauvignon flavors balanced by soft tannins. Drink now
1986 Developed aromas of earth and mature fruit. Complex bottle bouquet. Drink now
1985 Mature color with restrained, mature medium/full-bodied flavors. Still some vibrancy and liveliness. Drink now
1984 Still showing sweetness with lovely color, herbal aromas. The only year that wasn’t 100% Cabernet Sauvignon (7% Cabernet Franc added). Medium body, mature flavors. Drink now
1983 Fully mature color and aromas. Nice acidity complements mature flavors and resolved tannins.        Drink now


2011 Hillside Select® Reviews

“Possibly the Cabernet Sauvignon of the vintage … notes of subtle burning charcoal embers, blueberry, blackberry and graphite, the wine has a certain Bordelais minerality, but then the richness of Napa kicks in. It’s full-bodied (somewhat unusual for a 2011) with lighter tannins ... To be able to produce a compelling wine like this is a testament to their extraordinary skills and craftsmanship. This wine can be drunk now or cellared for another 15-20 years.”
— Robert M. Parker, Jr., The Wine Advocate

“Openly rich and plush, with a dense core of mocha-laced blackberry, charry oak, subtle spice, hot brick and cedary, earthy notes, this hints at a rustic character and is edgy at points, yet the core intensity persists ...”
— James Laube, Wine Spectator

The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is gorgeous. Shafer fans will delight in a super-expressive, nuanced wine ...”
— Antonio Galloni,

“... Full body but refined, with super-integrated tannins. The wood, ripe fruit, tannin and acid balance is beautiful ...”
— James Suckling,

“Shafer's Hillside Select has taken the big, bold route to icon status among California Cabernets and the 2011, despite the dire predictions for the vintage, delivers. On the nose the Hillside Select shows notes of cedar and graphite while on the palate the wine is rich and meaty, with aromas of cassis and blackberry caressed by a touch of oak spice. The tannins are ample but subtle, and the finish has astonishing length.”
— Robert Whitley, Wine Review Online

“Shafer’s peak is the 2011 Hillside Select, an outstanding, complex, rewarding cabernet sauvignon from Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District, with dark-fruit notes, a hint of herbs and a minerally undercurrent, leading to a very long finish.”
— Peter M. Gianotti, Newsday

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