“The first pour offers an endlessly rich density of meaty, smoky, black fruit aromas while the wine saturates the mouth with deep flavors of black licorice, bramble fruit, black pepper, allspice, bacon, and char. All of this opulence is energized with underlying acidity and bound together with structured, ripe tannins built for very long term ageability.”
— Shafer winemaker Elias Fernandez
“Shafer’s 2014 Relentless is fabulous … lavender, mint, violets and crème de cassis notes are laced into the super-expressive finish.”
— Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com
Vintage and Production Notes
Release Date: September 1, 2017
Vineyard Location: A small ridgetop site and a foothills site along the Vaca Mountains just south of Stags Leap District.
The 2014 Growing Season: This was the third in a string of warm, sun-soaked vintages from spring through early autumn. The consistency of daytime heat and evening coolness created a model growing season in which we harvested fruit with abundant color and concentration, along with enticing, rich aromatics.
Varietal Composition: 89% Syrah, 11% Petite Sirah
Brix at Harvest: 24.0° - 26.0°
Cooperage: 30 months in 100% new 60-gallon French oak barrels (Allier & Tronçais)
Suggested CA Retail: $92
Video: Relentless – the inspiration behind the name
Shafer's Syrah was named to honor winemaker Elias Fernandez and his relentless pursuit of quality.
The Relentless Story
Relentless is a blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah that originates in a rugged, sloping vineyard planted in the chaparral foothills of the Vaca Mountains, along Napa Valley’s drier, cooler southeast corridor. The soul of the wine, though, comes from its namesake, our longtime winemaker, Elias Fernandez, who the Shafer family honors with this proprietary blend for his relentless pursuit of quality.
Relentless is a 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 honor Elias for the key attribute they believed put him in a class all his own – his relentless pursuit of quality in winemaking.
Elias, born the son of seasonal farm workers, went on to graduate with honors from University of California, Davis and joined the Shafer team in 1984.
“His attention to detail in the vineyards and the cellar is unmatched,” says Doug Shafer. “He inspects and tests hundreds of corks each year; he checks every new barrel coming into the winery for toast level, grain tightness, and more; every day we’re bottling he comes to the winery at 5:00 a.m. and personally steam cleans every piece of equipment that will come in contact with the wine. He is truly relentless.”
And so Relentless emerged as a testament to both a person and a place.
Doug Shafer and Elias Fernandez originally conceived of 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 flavors. 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 flavors in combination with more floral, perfumy 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.
With this approach as a guide the 2010 Relentless was made as a proprietary blend of 94 percent Syrah and 6 percent Petite Sirah.
“Elias and I believe that this new take on Relentless gives everything that fans of the wine have loved while taking it to a new level,” says Doug Shafer. “It’s a style that we’re very excited about, believing that it lives up to the wine’s name and reputation.”
Shafer Donates Land to Help Wildlife Rehabilitation
Shafer recently donated five acres of land to Wildlife Rescue Center of Napa County, which dubbed the site “Shafer Sanctuary,” and has built an aviary on it to rehabilitate wild birds.
At Shafer the Aromas and Flavors of ‘Corked’ Wine Are History. For more than 20 years the winemaking team at Shafer has been fighting TCA on multiple fronts and they’re winning.
Shafer Announces the End of Corked Corks
Learn how Shafer is combining the running of an obsessively clean cellar with the latest innovations from its cork partners to cut the chances of a wine leaving Shafer with cork taint effectively to zero.
Robert M. Parker reviews a complete vertical of Hillside Select
After tasting through a complete vertical of Hillside Select (1983 to 2013), Robert M. Parker, Jr. has published his tasting notes. Click here for a complete version (PDF).