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Shafer Vineyards 2004 Relentless makes a great special occasion wine

Shafer Vineyards, like a number of other Napa Valley vineyards and wineries, was started by an individual who left a successful career and ventured into the wine business.

John Shafer, founder of Shafer Vineyards, is such an individual. In 1972, he left a 23-year career in the publishing business in Chicago to pursue a second career in the wine business…after reading a Bank of America Investor’s Report about the bright future in the California wine industry. Then in 1978, the first Cabernet was produced and the rest is history. Since the beginning, Shafer Vineyards has achieved cult status in the world of wine. Its Hillside Select Cabernet is an especially sought-after wine.

Today, the family operation continues to make highly-ranked wines under the watchful eyes of John and his son, Doug Shafer, and long-time winemaker, Elias Fernandez. For more about this vineyard and winery, you can visit its website at

Shafer’s Relentless has aromas of black fruit and hints of vanilla, Carl Tiedemann says. Melissa Hiner/Tiedemann on Wines

If you are interested in purchasing Shafer wines, you can sign up for its mailing list while you are on the website. Shipping to Indiana can be tricky and expensive if you need to use a third-party shipper. You’ll need to check out what states they ship to and make the necessary arrangements before signing up for the mailing list. If you need help with this, drop me an email and I’ll share my third-party shipper’s (DDC Shipping) contact information. It will increase your shipping costs by about $50 per case. Not good, but at least you’ll be able to get the wine.

In today’s post, I am reporting on Shafer’s 2004 Relentless blended Syrah. This vintage is a blend of 80 percent Syrah and 20 percent Petite Syrah that spent 32 months in 100 percent new French Oak barrels before bottling.

If you like Syrahs as I do, this one was pretty good. The original ratings on this wine were not very high. Robert Parker rated it at 91 points back in 2008. Wine Spectator Magazine gave it an 87-point rating. Stephen Tanzer was at 90 points while’s average was 90 points.

This was one of the types of wines that improved with age. It will never make the top of the rating scale but is a nice, pleasant wine to drink. If you like Syrahs, you will like this one.


As usual, I decanted this wine and strained it as I was pouring it into my decanter. I let it sit for about half an hour. The wine was a ruby/purple color in the glass. On the nose, the wine had aromas of black fruit and hints of vanilla and maybe a little pepper. On the palate, I could taste the fruit and liked the hints of blackberries and cherries. This is still a full-bodied wine with sweet balanced tannins and a silky mouth feel. The finish has some light pepper and is of a nice length, perhaps 10-15 seconds.

Shafer made 2,000 cases of this wine. has the average price at about $73 per bottle with a range of $67 to $80 per bottle. It also lists five different wine shops around the U.S. that you can purchase the wine from. I recommend Shafer wines, however, they can be a little pricey. They most likely fall into the category of “special occasion wines” because of the pricing.

Shafer Vineyards does host tastings and tours of the winery. If you are in Napa Valley and want to visit the winery, you will need to call ahead as tastings are by appointment only and there is a cost of $55 per person. That might sound a little steep, but you do get to taste a lot of wines and you’ll have a great time at the winery. The number for Shafer Vineyards is 707-944-2877.

As always, I appreciate your support of our wine blog and encourage you to share it with family and friends. If you care to share your comments on this blog posting or other topics, please do so in the comments section below.

Until next week,

For more wine tips and recommendations from Carl Tiedemann, visit Plus, find out how to join the wine club for exclusive local discounts.

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