98pts Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Very deep purple-black in color, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select comes bounding out of the glass with gregarious scents of crème de cassis, warm black cherries, plum preserves and Indian spices with hints of lilacs, garrigue, stewed tea and cigar box plus a waft of charcuterie. Full-bodied, rich, boldly fruited and wildly decadent, it has a rock-solid frame of grainy tannins and compelling freshness, finishing with loads of earthy and savory layers. Rating: 98+
98pts James Suckling
There’s an intensely ripe, fresh and vibrant edge to this focused, elegant and assertively pure cabernet that delivers attractive blueberry and cassis aromas in stylish form. The palate arrives as a precise and focused suite of ripe blueberry and blackberry flavors, building smoothly to an attractively crisp and even-paced finish. Another superb edition of this wine. Drink or hold.
98pts Jeb Dunnuck
I was able to taste four vintages of the estate’s flagship Cabernet Sauvignon, their Hillside Select. This first growth-like cuvée was first made in 1978 and always comes from their estate Hillside Vineyard just above their estate in Stags Leap. This is a 54-acre south-facing, amphitheater-like vineyard of thin, rocky, volcanic soils. Today the cuvée is always 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that spends upwards of 32 months in new French oak. It is consistently one of the greatest Cabernet Sauvignons in the world. Starting with their 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select, it boasts a deep, saturated purple hue as well as a heavenly bouquet of sweet blueberry and cassis fruits interwoven with plenty of graphite, tobacco, and lead pencil notes, with ample minerality emerging with time in the glass. This was a hot, low-yielding vintage for Napa, and while this beauty is massively concentrated, it’s also silky and seamless, with great tannins, no sense of over-ripeness or heaviness, and a finish that goes on for nearly a minute. This is a brilliant, incredibly sexy wine to enjoy over the coming 30-40 years
97pts Tasting Panel
I tasted this as a barrel sample at Premiere Napa Valley just over two years ago, and memory holds: I still recall the dense, almost syrup-like quality of black fruit, earth, and sage. Now released into the marketplace, this heralded 100% Cabernet Sauvignon still has time to develop, but after decanting, it proved more than worthy of praise. The fruit comes from Shafer’s best hillside blocks, and given the dry conditions that year, smaller berries resulted in an extracted expression. Opulent aromas of cedar, leather, and coffee bean are almost Cognaclike, and on the palate, peppered licorice and blackberry perpetuate that syrupy density alongside teeth-gripping, chalky tannins. The elegance rises out of the glass once the wine opens up, exhibiting violets, sagebrush, and sweet meat.
96pts Wine Enthusiast
Having spent three years in barrel, this 100% varietal wine (from the producer’s famous hillside) is brawny in concentrated black fruit, Christmas spice and thick, firm tannin. A dusty thread of crushed rock, black licorice and flint provide exotic accents to the velvety thick grip. This will do well over time; enjoy best from 2025–2030.