2017 Relentless®


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 elegant 2017 offers a wealth of aromas and flavors – black plum, herbs, grilled game, vanilla, leather, herbs, river stone, and spice. The richness, balance, and vibrancy of the wine is mouth-filling and soul-satisfying on every level with ripe, silky tannins that offer the promise of greater pleasures with years of cellaring.”
— Shafer winemaker Elias Fernandez

Reviews

“... a bold, flamboyant wine that seems to have put on even more density over the last year, hard as that may seem to believe. Black cherry, licorice, spice, leather and menthol are all amped up in this decidedly opulent, full-throttle Syrah-based wine.”
— Antonio Galloni, Vinous

Vintage and Production Notes

Release Date: September 15, 2020

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 2017 Growing Season: A lengthy, warm summer allowed the fruit to hang in near ideal conditions for a long, long time producing clusters of fruit with vivid color, enticing flavors, and unrivaled aromas.

Varietal Composition: 86% Syrah, 14% 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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