2016 Relentless®


“The 2016 Relentless offers deep, elegant, meaty, gamey aromas and flavors that are pure Syrah. These are fused with blueberry, black pepper, wet stone, and black tea. The vintage offers an ideal balance of immensity and energy, along with a beautiful, silken texture in the mouth, a lengthy finish, and ripe tannins that promise many rich, memorable years ahead.”
— Shafer winemaker Elias Fernandez

Reviews

The 2016 Relentless is every bit as stellar as it was last year. Silky, nuanced and beautifully persistent in the glass, the 2016 is super-refined. A natural tendency towards extroverted power is nicely tempered in this super-polished and highly nuanced Syrah/Petite Sirah blend from Shafer.”
— Antonio Galloni, Vinous

“So much to unpack on the nose, it’s kind of crazy. Gorgeous boysenberry, blueberry and blackberry fruit, tossed with waves of pepper, anise, clove, leather, charcoal and espresso elements. Obviously full-bodied and burly, this is big stuff but the acidity actually keeps it lip-smacking in spite of its richness. The freshest, sweetness blueberries and blackberries, and the fruit is laced with leather, pepper, spicy herbs, charcoal and rocky earth tones. Complex and rich, yet effortless and pure — a beautiful young Relentless that is built the long haul (a decade at least would do it good).”
— Issac James Baker, Terroirist.com

Vintage and Production Notes

Release Date: September 1, 2019

Vineyard Location: A small ridgetop site and a foothills site along the Vaca Mountains just south of Stags Leap District. 

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The 2016 Growing Season: Plenty of rain in winter and spring ended a series of drought years and kicked off a long, warm growing season that produced clusters of fruit with radiant color, pure flavors, and enticing aromas.

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)

Alcohol: 15.8%

Suggested Retail: $95

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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.

La Mesa vineyard

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.

Tenacious mindset
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.

Original approach
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.

Question Everything
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.”

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