The anomaly in the Shafer portfolio is the Relentless, which is created from the southern foothills of the Vaca mountain range and was debuted largely at the insistence of Elias Fernandez. The first vintage was 1999, and this big, massive, Rhône Valley-inspired wine is certainly a wine capable of lasting 20-25 years. A blend always dominated by Syrah, but with various percentages of Petite Sirah, the 2013 Relentless has a tiny quantity of Petite Sirah (only 3%). It is a stunning wine, with notes of roasted meats, beef blood, lavender, new saddle leather, blackberry and pepper, followed by a wine with a huge, massive, plush texture, an opulence and richness that are stunning, and a long, long finish. It can be drunk young for its exuberance and boisterous character or cellared for another 20+ years.
There are very few wineries in California where you can say that the original wine owners and winemaking staff are totally intact and have been, in this case, since 1978. The estate was founded by John Shafer and run with great precision by himself and more recently by his son Doug and Elias Fernandez. The team has been working together for 38 years since the first vintage in 1978. Six years earlier in 1972, John Shafer bought the property and established the vineyard in the hillsides of Stags Leap. They produce about 30,000 cases of wine – all of it noteworthy. Their Cabernet Sauvignon is true first-growth quality and their Rhône Ranger wine made from Syrah and Petite Sirah, called Relentless, is about as profound as you can get from those varietals.
“Pull the cork on this vintage and you’ll find an inky, liquid feast – aromas and flavors of meat and game, briar fruit, morels, boysenberry, grilled blueberries and cinnamon. The acidity gives this otherwise deep, dark wine a liveliness that offer engaging pleasure. The ripe, silky tannins offer tremendous promise for things to come after years in the cellar.”
What others are saying
“... the 2013 Syrah Relentless ... might end up being the finest one they’ve ever made ... the wine is opaque black/purple with an incredible nose of subtle wood, charcoal embers, blackberry, blue- berry and black raspberry fruit, baking spices, and again, a roasted meatiness with some bouquet garni thrown in the background. The complex aromatics were already starting to roar from the glass, and the wine, enormously endowed, is full-bodied and flawlessly constructed. This is a killer effort that should drink well for 40+ years.”
—robert m. Parker, Jr., The Wine Advocate