The perfect gift
I often quote wine author and critic Robert Parker and I think that most would agree that he is the best known in this business and his influence is very considerable, for instance his judgment can influence the price for a whole vintage in Bordeaux.
I am not sure whether it was Parker or the Wine Spectator that first used the 100 point rating system but both use it now and according to RP if a wine scores 96-100/100 it is “an extraordinary wine of profound and complex character displaying all the attributes expected of a classic wine of its variety. Wines of this calibre are worth a special effort to find, purchase and consume”.
Looking back at Parker's 100/100 wines, the Ermitage of Michel Chapoutier in the Rhone Valley is the only one to get six perfect scores since 2001.
Parker has awarded our Shafer Hillside Select Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 100/100 for the 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2010 vintages and suggests that the 2007 should upgrade from 98/100 to absolute perfection as it ages.
I think it fair to say that there is no better Cabernet Sauvignon on our planet and an incredibly rare wine of any type that can stand up to this track record.
It must have been 15 or more years ago that our kitchen phone rang one evening and my wife said to me that it was someone by the name of John Shafer calling us from Tokyo. He told her that his family made wines in California and would like for us to represent them.
He was staying at the American Club and the manager, a friend of ours, had suggested that John make the call. So began a relationship with the Shafer family and their stellar wines. I have stood with him in his Hillside Select Vineyard and looked up at the twin rock outcrops that Indian lore mentions as it tells of a giant stag leaping from one to another and escaping a hunting party.
We have sold out of the 100 point 2001 and 2002 but fortunately have stocks of the 100/100 2003 which Parker describes thusly “One of the great so called ‘First Growths' of Napa Valley is Shafer's 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select Vineyard.
This has been one of the top dozen wines in every vintage for over 15 years. It is an utterly perfect wine, surpassing almost everything else made in 2003!
It possesses everything one could desire in a Cabernet Sauvignon — minerality, flowers, crème de cassis, blackberries, velvety tannins, a skyscraper texture, perfect balance and integration. The finish is endless and should continue to drink well for 25-30 years (6/2013)”. $211.80.
Also in our cellars is the Hillside Select 2007 that Parker gave 98/100 back in December of 2010, but he did say that it had the potential to be a perfect wine in five to six years. James Suckling, writing for the Wine Spectator said “Save your money and get plenty of this thought-provoking wine.
Full bodied, with a soft beginning that just builds and builds”. Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar comments in June of 2011: “This drenches the mouth with flavour with the tannins melting into its powerful fruit. Showing spectacularly today but this will evolve for decades”. $263.
One learns in Bermuda not to say “it will be in this weekend for sure”, but the ship with our Shafer Hillside Select 2010 is due in on Sunday and already the excitement in wine publications has caused about 25 percent of our allotment to be reserved in advance for our customers that have asked for it. Here is Parker again “100/100 the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select offers a mind-blowing display of blue, red and black fruits along with liquorice and floral notes.
“The prodigious aromatics are followed by a precise, rich, pure blast of inky black currant, blueberry and mulberry flavours. For all its power, richness and depth it is incredibly light on its feet and ethereal. It should drink well for three to four decades”.
As it is not here yet I am not quite sure of the price but suspect it will fetch about $290.
If you would like to enjoy a really interesting wine tasting on December 18th and help a charity at the same time, then check out the front page of our web site www.wineonline.bm
This column is a paid for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George's (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits are available online at www.wineonline.bm.