Shafer Hillside Select

The color is beautiful, almost completely opaque at the center, and sparkling like rubies at the edges. The nose only teases at what is to come, leading with milk chocolate, then dark chocolate and a touch of espresso. A deeper pull reveals blueberries baking in a pie and hints of tobacco leaf. On the palate, it is silky and opulent, with smooth tannins and more blackberries, elderberries, and blueberries than could fit in the bottle. Fruits are big and ripe, a blend of fresh-picked and baking in a pie, with pastry and vanilla behind them. Very dark chocolate, espresso, and mint flash and disappear, hardly there now, but promising tremendous layers of flavors with the time this brilliant wine deserves. This is one of America’s First Growths, and, given the two decades it could use to show its best, it will reward the drinker with more than a glass of wine. It will offer an experience in richness, complexity, and the layers of flavors, some maturing and some still barrel-fresh, one has come to expect from Shafer’s flagship wine. Very Highly Recommended. 99 points. DBH

WHO: Shafer
WHAT: Cabernet Sauvignon
WHEN: 2013
DESIGNATION: Hillside Select
WHERE: Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California
HOW MUCH: $350 (media sample)