2015 Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay
Year after year the Chardonnay from our beautiful Carneros vineyard offers plush, exotic, zesty aromas and flavors.
“The 2015 vintage endowed this Chardonnay with a profusion of exotic, fresh aromas and flavors – honeydew melon, pineapple, plantains, honey, crème brulee, and mandarin peel – all made more enticing with bright acidity and a long, rich finish.”
— Shafer winemaker Elias Fernandez
“Rich and spicy, featuring an elegant mix of baked apple, honeydew melon, pear and light minerally notes. Ends full and persistent, with a long, layered aftertaste.”
— James Laube, Wine Spectator
“Always impressive in its grasp of power and grace, this white is memorable from start to finish, beginning with a dark golden-hay color that dazzles in the glass. A strong floral component of jasmine invites on the nose, while sparkling acidity maintains a freshness amidst the integrated oak and delicious flavors of honeyed pear and crème brûlée.”
— Virginie Boone, Wine Enthusiast
“… direct, juicy, ripe apple and oak aromas are nicely polished and quite rich, and its full, comfortably lively passage in the mouth never stalls … those who like the gusto that a dramatic Chardonnay can bring will be very happy.”
— Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine
“… deep, intense, apple, melon and stone fruit aroma with spicy notes and hints of honeysuckle and lemon zest; medium-full body; nicely balanced, citrus, melon, apple, and stone fruit flavors with good depth, zesty acidity, well integrated oak, mineral notes, and a slight creaminess in the mouthfeel; lingering aftertaste. Very appealing now, though should be even better in a year or two. Very highly recommended.”
— California Grapevine
“Creamy, full-bodied and complex with notes of baking spices, sandalwood, creme brûlée, yellow apple, pear and tangerine peel. Satin-smooth with mouthwatering acidity.”
— Catherine Fallis, PlanetGrape.com
“This is a blousy chardonnay with a round texture. Its bright acidity reins it in, but in the end, this is a rich wine, and unapologetically so. Notes of honey, creme brulee and pineapple. Complex. Striking.”
— Peg Melnik, Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Vintage and Production Notes
Release Date: March 1, 2017
Vineyard Location: Shafer’s Red Shoulder Ranch in Carneros
The 2015 Growing Season: This warm, dry vintage gave us smaller berries that were packed with rich color and flavor becoming wines with excellent structure and extraction that will age beautifully in the cellar.
Varietal Composition: 100% Chardonnay
Brix at Harvest: 22.8° – 25.0°
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed and fermented with wild yeast in individual barrels (75% oak, 25% stainless steel); 0% malolactic fermentation
Cooperage: 14 months in 75% new French oak barrels (Allier, Vosges) and 25% in stainless steel barrels
Suggested CA Retail: $52
Video: Celebrating 20 years of Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay
In our new video Doug Shafer takes you to the vineyard where it all begins to show where the beauty in the bottle comes from.
Red Shoulder Ranch Story
Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay is a wine that bears the elegant imprint of its vineyard home – 68 acres that roll across the pastoral hill country of Los Carneros, a place where Napa Valley meets the northernmost rim of San Francisco Bay. The vineyard is named to honor the Red-shouldered Hawks and other birds of prey that play a vital role in our sustainable farming practices (in this case keeping gopher and other rodent populations naturally under control).
Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay is a wine that bears the elegant imprint of its vineyard home – 68 acres that roll across the pastoral hill country of Los Carneros, a place where Napa Valley meets the northernmost rim of San Francisco Bay.
Cooled by the marine breezes off the Bay, the region has a long, steady growing season well-suited to growing superior quality Chardonnay.
The vineyard is named to honor the Red-shouldered Hawks who, along with other birds of prey, play a vital role in our sustainable farming practices. We’ve made their hunting a bit easier by erecting tall perches throughout the property. The local hawks and kestrels reward us for this by keeping the population of vine-damaging gophers naturally under control so no rodent poisons are ever needed, keeping our vines and soils healthy.
The vineyard is planted to five clones of Chardonnay, chosen for their small clusters, low yields, and for the rich, alluring flavors and textures each brings to the finished wine. At harvest, the grapes are 100% whole cluster pressed, and the juice is fermented entirely on wild yeast in individual 60-gallon barrels. Seventy-five percent of the barrels are new French oak, 25% are stainless steel.
The maturing Chardonnay is kept on the lees a full 15 months, the lees stirred weekly to add a creamy richness to the wine. The crisp, enticing acidity of this Chardonnay speaks to the fact that the wine does not go through malolactic fermentation.
In the early days of Shafer Vineyards, the winery’s Chardonnay was grown on the Shafer property in Stags Leap District. While the response to those first wines was positive, the Shafer team believed they could do better.
In 1988 John and Doug Shafer discovered a new home for Chardonnay in the Carneros region of Napa Valley and purchased the property, naming it Red Shoulder Ranch. After a lengthy, painstaking period of development and planting, they harvested their first fruit in 1994. Tasting the ‘94 Chardonnay barrel lots in the spring of 1995 Doug Shafer, winery president, and Elias Fernandez, winemaker, were very pleased at the depth of fruit in the wine — so much fruit that the Chardonnay called for further barrel aging beyond the typical eight months.
The 1994 Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay debuted with considerable acclaim even being named one of the Top 10 Wines of the Year by Wine Spectator. After numerous vintages since, this elegant, rich white wine continues to win over critics and consumers alike with its blend of exotic and elegant aromas and flavors.