Once again our Syrah and Petite Sirah vineyard in the sloping foothills of the Vaca Mountains has yielded a dark, liquid feast of great richness and depth.
“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
“ … a total rock-star nose of flamboyant blackberry pie, plum preserves, mulberries and licorice scents with hints of Sichuan pepper, hoisin, Indian spices and smoked meats plus a waft of raspberry leaves. Very big, rich, full and decadently fruited in the mouth, the palate packs in black fruits and exotic spices layers with a firm, rounded tannin frame and just enough freshness to carry off the long, opulent finish.”
— Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate
“Rich and deeply structured, with powerfully built blackberry, river stone and smoky pepper beef flavors that take on potency toward refined tannins. Syrah and Petite Sirah. Drink now through 2024.”
— Tim Fish, Wine Spectator
“… a forceful, powerful knockout, delivering tones of turned earth, wild game and nutmeg. Full bodied and robust, it layers velvety smoothness around a mouth-filling, grippy core of bright black fruit that’s rich and highly rewarding.”
— Virginie Boone, Wine Enthusiast
“Bright purple; aromas of black plum, blackberry pie and violets. Rich, ripe and slightly opulent. Oak notes are well integrated. Zesty acidity, excellent balance and complexity with elegant tannins.”
— Tom Hyland, Forbes
“Rich, intense, full and youthfully chewy mountain Syrah with notes of black cherry, mulberry, mushroom, bacon, clove and cardamom.”
— Catherine Fallis, PlanetGrapeWineReview.com
Vintage and Production Notes
Release Date: September 1, 2018
Vineyard Location: A small ridgetop site and a foothills site along the Vaca Mountains just south of Stags Leap District.
The 2015 Growing Season: This was another in a string of warm, sunny 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: 90% Syrah, 10% Petite Sirah
Brix at Harvest: 24.0° - 26.0°
Cooperage: 30 months in 100% new 60-gallon French oak barrels (Allier & Tronçais)
Suggested Retail: $95
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.”