Shafer 2016 One Point Five

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Tasting notes
A silky Cabernet Sauvignon with soft tannins and full of fruit. As James Suckling writes “Very strong and pure aromas of blackcurrants with violets and lightly herbal notes, leading to a palate that … delivers attractive, ripe dark berries with a very long, focused and assertive, neatly cut finish. Elegance with power.” It will pair well with rich, fatty food such as oxtail stew, hard cheeses and dark chocolate.

Why we recommend this wine
We visited California a while back (see our trip notes here and were really impressed with the full fruit flavours if not somewhat daunted by what, in our minds, was over-the-top alcohol content; buy, hey, this is California! Shafer’s One Point Five is a superb example of what we tasted (including an ABV of 15.3%). All the critics give it a score around 95, which is exceptional.

The wine
Predominately from two Stags Leap District sites — Shafer’s hillside estate vineyard and “Borderline” vineyard located about two miles south of the winery. The winemaker states that “The vintage gave us ripe, beautiful fruit with abundant aromas and flavors. Round, rich, and smooth, this classic, precision Cabernet is aromatic in the glass, and complex and compelling in the mouth serving up layer upon layer of red and black fruit”. The wines spent 20 months in 100% new French oak barrels.

The wine estate
Vines were first planted in the Shafer vineyards in the 1880’s. The family purchased the property in 1972. John Shafer a former B-54 bomber pilot, was new to farming and had to learn how to drive an old TD-9 tractor as he went about replanting and extending the vineyards. Then he learned how to make wine and in 1978 bottled his first estate vintage.
One Point Five takes its name from the term “a generation and a half,” coined by John and Doug Shafer to describe their long father-and-son partnership. Since 1983 this family team has worked together to manage their Stags Leap District winery.
30 years ago the vineyards had not a blade of grass, not a weed, no sign of bird or insect life, just knobby vines sticking up out of the soil. The only way to achieve that super clean look was by using heavy duty chemicals, so they decided to change. Today they are 100 percent solar powered, reuse and recycle their water, make their own compost for fertilizer. They partner with owls, songbirds, hawks, bats and other wildlife to cultivate successful vineyards and rely on cover crops to help control insects that would otherwise blight the vines. It may not be certified organic but it’s the approach that we look for in the wineries we buy from.

Food and wine
Rich and full of fruit so it needs weighty dishes with strong meaty flavours and it has the tannins to cut through the fat content – so a winter wine we guess. Also see our guide to pairing food and wine here.

Did you know?
Technology is everywhere but this takes some beating. Shafer installed sensors from Fruition Sciences on several vines on the property that monitor water use and sap flow within the vines themselves. This gives them data on the actual needs of the plant and tells them when they truly need to irrigate. The first year they used this new system they saved more than 100,000 gallons of water or almost half a million litres.