Shafer Vineyards Relentless 2016
Shafer's Relentless is a red wine that originates in a rugged, sloping vineyard planted within the chaparral foothills of the Vaca Mountains, along Napa Valley’s arid, cooler southeast corridor. For more than a decade this site has produced a consistently rich, elegant proprietary blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah. The soul of the wine, though, comes from its namesake, Shafer’s longtime winemaker, Elias Fernandez. Before the first vintage was bottled in 1999 and before the first label was printed, the Shafer family wanted this wine to honour Elias for the key attribute they believed put him in a class all of his own - his relentless pursuit of quality in winemaking. Doug Shafer and Elias Fernandez originally conceived Relentless as a field blend, meaning that the vineyard site was planted to 80 percent Syrah and 20 percent Petite Sirah. Since then the two grape varieties were picked, crushed and fermented as one. For ten vintages the Shafer team produced the wine in this style winning over consumers and critics alike. The 2008 vintage was named Wine Spectator’s “Wine of the Year” in November, 2012. In the first vintages, the wine was dominated by the Petite Sirah’s blueberry, smoke and char aromas and flavours. But as years went by and the vines matured, it was the Syrah that began to take the lead position with it rich, meaty aromas and flavours in combination with more floral, perfumed characteristics. As with each of their wines the Shafer team kept asking if Relentless had reached its finest expression. With this pursuit in mind the decision was made to move away from the structure of a field blend toward an approach similar to Hillside Select® in which only the most compelling, refined fruit of the vintage determined the make-up of the wine.