Each week I pick out one wine to highlight as my wine of the week.  This wine may be an outstanding wine, a great value or just something very interesting.



Shafer logo



This wine has been a personal favorite for several years.  Relentless is generally a big, full bodied wine filled with berries and spice.  The availability of the wine at retail was generally spotty, at best, at least where I have lived.  Finding it at a discounted price was also like looking for a four leaf clover.  I’m sure it will be even harder to locate for a few years since the 2008 vintage was named Wine Spectator’s #1 Wine of the Year.


The family owned winery produces around 32,000 cases a year using mainly Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.



The Winery

John Shafer purchased the 210 acre estate in 1972 after leaving his 23 year career in the publishing industry.  After moving his family to the Napa Valley, John set out to begin his new career in wine.  The family replanted the existing vineyards which had been originally planted in the 1920s.  The family also terraced the steep and rocky hillsides for additional vineyards.  These hillside vineyards brought the family up to 50 acres of vineyards.


As the vines matured, the family transitioned from growers to vintners and crushed their first Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in 1978.  They began building their winery a year later.


The first Shafer Cabernet became a benchmark, winning the acclaimed San Francisco Vintners Club taste-off upon release and, over a decade later taking first place in an international blind tasting held in Germany, where it outranked such wines as Chateau Margaux, Chateau Latour and Chateau Palmer.


Doug Shafer became winemaker in 1983 after graduating from the University of California at Davis with a degree in enology and viticulture, a year later Elias Fernandez joined the winery as assistant winemaker.  Together Doug and Elias have worked closely to forge the Shafer style of quality, consistency and elegance.


New vineyards have been added over the years, with acreage acquired in the Oak Knoll, Stags Leap and Carneros districts, bringing the total Shafer vineyard acreage to over 200 acres.  Winery facilities have been expanded and extensive caves carved into the hillside for aging wine.


In 1994, Elias was appointed winemaker, and Doug took over the reins as president when John became chairman of the board.



Much more information on the Shafers, the winery and their wines is available by clicking here.

The Wine

Relentless is born on a remote ridgetop vineyard in the southern foothills of Napa Valley’s Vaca Mountain range.  The wine is a field blend of approximately 80 percent Syrah and 20 percent Petite Sirah, which means that these two grape varietals grow side by side, and are picked and crushed together.


In the first vintages of this wine the Petite Sirah dominated with its purple-midnight color and solid black-fruit, smoke, and black pepper flavors. In the more recent vintages the

Syrah has moved into the forefront with its flavors of spice and meatiness, bringing a touch of elegance to this otherwise bold, flamboyant wine.


The wine is named to honor long-time Shafer Winemaker Elias Fernandez and his relentless pursuit of quality in the vineyard and cellar.



There is a video, “The Spirit of Relentless” available on Shafer’s website by clicking here.





2006 Shafer Relentless – $42.74

This has been a personal favorite for several years.  The higher price and limited availability around here cut into my purchases.  When the local store secured a nice stash of the wine and put it on sale at a killer price, I had to stock up.  This vintage is a blend of 84% Syrah and 16% Petite Sirah.


This has 14.9% alcohol and is sealed with a natural cork.



My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep, dark, inky purple color.  The exotic and enticing nose has blackberries, fresh ground espresso beans, crushed stone minerals, dark chocolate, melted licorice, black pepper, smoke, black cherries, tar, and violets.  This is full bodied with solid tannins and good acidity.  On the palate there are layers of fruit and savory elements that thoroughly coat your mouth, like the wine’s name, the flavors are “relentless”.  The finish is fairly long and again is loaded with flavor.  Not a lot of subtlety here, just massive amounts of flavors that are held in check by the outstanding tannic backbone and acidity.  This is still a baby, but one that will swat you up side the head with their rattle.  This still has plenty of upside potential.  (93 pts)

2006 Shafer Relentless

2006 Shafer Relentless




Here in the upper Midwest, we cooled down very quickly over the last week or two.  This cool down was the perfect reason to make up a batch of slow cooked short ribs to pair with the wine.  This was a perfect pairing since the short ribs provided plenty of flavors to stand up to the burly Relentless.

Short Ribs



Underground Cellars Contest

Want to win a $3,000 “Carbon Fiber” Champagne bottle or one of 100 other prizes?


They just announced that they raised $1,000,000 in seed funding from investors.  The most recent investment came from famous ‘Shark Tank’ investor Barbara Corcoran


Here is the press release announcing Barbara Corcoran’s new backing of the company.


If you are already a customer of the Underground Cellar, all you have to do is sign in and click the entry button.  To sign up with Underground Cellars and enter the drawing, click here, or the picture below.

Underground Cellar



Connect with me

You can follow me on Twitter for more wine info, potential food pairings, and an occasional recipe or two.  Be warned, I’m also a sports fan and there are occasional Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates tweets.  I attended the University of South Carolina, so during football season, there will also be some Gamecock posts.


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Here is a link to a YouTube video of me getting “coal” from Santa for being named the “Nicest Person in Social Media” in 2012.






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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.



Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.



All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.