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Shafer Hillside Select Bottle

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2012 Hillside Select® Cabernet Sauvignon

Release date: September 1, 2016
Suggested California retail: $265.00

“… 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 2012 Hillside Select, a 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from our rugged hillside vineyards in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District. On release the wine offers rich elegance, youthful exuberance, and fine balance introducing itself with enticing, vivid aromatics. In the glass you’ll find complex flavors of blackberry, cassis, black cherry, dark chocolate, smoke, spice, savory herbs and a touch of vanilla. The tannins are ripe offering refined texture, 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
This was a classic Napa Valley vintage filled with warm, sunny days and perfect, chilly nights
from spring through early autumn. The consistency of heat and coolness created a model growing
season in which we harvested fruit at ideal ripeness brimming with rich color and flavor.

Winemaker’s Notes
“The 2012 Hillside Select is a beautiful reflection of both its rugged vineyard site and an ideal vintage. Room-filling, energetic aromas of juicy, dark fruit and white flowers are completed by complex, youthful core-flavors of blackberry, cassis, and black cherry along with delicate herbs, graphite, and smoke. The wine is smooth and balanced as it moves through the mouth. The texture is seamless and light on its feet with classic Stags Leap District tannins that are ripe and ready for aging. There’s a lot of lush, vivid pleasure in the bottle now with more to come with a few years in a good cellar.”
— Elias Fernandez

Related Links
2012 Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon Fact Sheet
2016 Current Releases
The Hillside Select® Story
Shafer Brochure
Hillside Select Brochure
Finding Our Wines
Robert M. Parker Jr.’s The Wine Advocate

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

  • 2012
  • 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
2012A beautiful reflection of both its vineyard and vintage. Room-filling, energetic aromas of juicy, dark fruit and white flowers are completed by complex, youthful core-flavors of blackberry, cassis, and black cherry along with delicate herbs, graphite, and smoke. The wine is smooth and balanced as it moves through the mouth. The texture is seamless and light on its feet with classic Stags Leap District tannins that are ripe and ready for aging. There’s a lot of lush, vivid pleasure in the bottle now with more to come with a few years in a good cellar. Drink now – 20 years
2011Offers 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. A long, lifted finish.Drink now – 18/20 years
2010Exudes dramatic 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. Smooth-textured tannins and a persistent finish.Drink now – 18/19 years
2009Lively 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.Drink now – 17/19 years
2008Aromatic elegance leads to rich 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.Drink now – 18 years
2007Aromas and flavors of black fruit, mocha, black plums, cassis, juicy black and red cherry, black tea, with spice and warm toast. Ripe, smooth and an elegant structure.Drink now – 17 years.
2006Aromatic beauty and a core of juicy, black fruit, chocolate, black plums, cassis, black and red cherry, black tea, and vanilla and spice. Ripe tannins and good structure. Drink now – 15/16 years
2005Enticing aromas of blackberry and cassis, flavors of black cherry, currant, cassis liqueur, black plum, dark chocolate, spice and tobacco. Round, smooth tannins. Drink now – 15 years
2004Enduring aromas and flavors blackberry, cassis, dark chocolate, juicy black cherry, black pepper integrated nicely with silky tannins. Drink now – 14 years
2003Expansive and juicy. Aromas and flavors of blackberry, black cherry and spice with a rich cassis, blackberry, toast, mocha, herbs, and a seamless integration of soft, ripe tanninsDrink now – 12 years
2002A harmonious, 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 – 12 years
2001Elegant black berry, currant, black cherry, cola, and cassis; rich, stylish dark fruit flavors, with a balanced seasoning of minerals, smoke, vanilla, tobacco, and herbs Drink now – 10 years
2000Pleasing black fruit, pepper, mineral, sweet-spicy vanilla, and dried herbs. Showing age characteristics of cedar and tea. A core of sweetness and supple, mature tannins. Drink now – 4 years
1999A richness of raspberry, blackberry, cola and briar fruit; showing more mature notes of tobacco, herbs and minerals and a core of sweetness. Drink now – 6 years
1998Deep color at the core of the glass with soft tannins and luscious blend of currants, vanilla and mineral in the mouth and a long finish.  Drink now – 3 years
1997Elegant characteristics of cedar, tea and tobacco. Even so, it continues to offer rich mouthfeel, dark color, with flavors of chocolate, spice, and black fruit. Drink now – 8 years
1996Alluring aromatics and elegantly balanced fruit flavors. Showing plush black currant and dark spice with a long finish. Drink now - 3 years
1995Shows richness, composure and lovely, dark-fruit complexity. Powerful, ripe and elegant, with velvety brick color and maturing flavors. Drink now – 3 years
1994Showing delicate, complex layers of tea, cedar, tobacco and leather. This is bottle bouquet in a delicious phase.  Drink now – 2 years
1993Mature 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
1992Amber at the edges of the glass. A smooth, seamless wine. Long finish. Showing bottle bouquet. Drink now
1991Deep 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
1990Beautiful 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
1989Complex, 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

2012 Hillside Select® Reviews

“This is a beauty, with crème de cassis notes intermixed with spring flowers, a touch of toasty oak, blackberries, blueberries and cassis, as well as licorice, vanillin and a full-bodied mouthfeel. At this stage, it is more voluptuous and opulent than the 2010, simply because that’s the hallmark style of the 2012. No doubt this is a 30- to 50-year wine if you want to cellar it properly and nibble on it over a long period of time, but it will be much more approachable in its youth than most Hillside Selects tend to be. This is, once again, a fabulous effort.”
— Robert M. Parker, Jr., The Wine Advocate

“Amazing from first sip to last, remarkably complex, layered and textured, smooth and supple, with a seductive creamy mocha oak presence to the long, expansive aftertaste, where the flavors cascade on top of one another and excite with anise and cedar. Drink now through 2032.”
— James Laube, Wine Spectator

“A total hedonistic turn-on … bursts from the glass with intense raciness and voluptuousness. Dark red cherry, pomegranate, spice and new leather flesh out on the opulent finish. Hints of torrefaction, mocha and French oak ...”
— Antonio Galloni,

“A wine with incredible finesse and elegance. Blackberry, blueberry, mineral, violet and lavender aromas. Wet earth floor and stone. Full body, very fine tannins and fabulous freshness. The length and polish is truly exceptional. The hint of austerity makes it irresistible. A joy to drink. But has a great future ahead of it.”
— James Suckling,

“Always among the richest, most extravagant Cabernets of any vintage, Shafer’s Hillside Select bottlings sometime sit at the brink of being too much. In this outing, however, the wine exhibits great depth and control, and it delivers enormous richness with keen fruit always in charge. It is altogether captivating stuff with layer upon layer of fully ripe currants, raspberries, cherries and black olives sweetened by creamy oak, and its late-arriving touch of heat is made wholly irrelevant by its unrelenting fruity richness. Give it a half-dozen years at the minimum, and be assured that, as long as it is well-cellared, it will be in splendid shape for two or three times as long.”
Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wines