2015 Shafer Chardonnay Red Shoulder Ranch reviewed


Shafer is best known for their impressive red wines, principally Cabernet Sauvignon, from the Stags Leap AVA. Don’t overlook Shafer Chardonnay though. Also an estate wine, but from their Red Shoulder Ranch property on the Napa side of the Carneros AVA, it’s excellent year in and year out.

Their Chardonnay is also a delightful exception to a current trend (more on that tomorrow).  Three quarters of the 2015 Shafer Chardonnay Red Shoulder Ranch aged for 14 months in new French oak (Allier and Vosge) with the remainder in stainless. The result is a gentle and pretty, yet powerful and very complex..

Shafer did not allow the wine to go through any malolactic fermentation. So, despite the moderately warm climate and richness of fruit, there is refreshing acidity and some tart fruit flavors such as lemon and green apple.

2015 Shafer Chardonnay Red Shoulder Ranch Carneros, Napa Valley 93+ 14.9% 750ml $52

Shafer Chardonnay

The nose is both complex and inviting with delicate baking spices (nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom), sandalwood, creme brûlée, yellow apple, pear and tangerine peel. The creamy, full-bodied palate offers a satin-smooth mouthfeel, mouthwatering acidity and a touch of warmth. Flavors include everything that’s on the nose plus oak, lemon, ripe green apple and poached pear.  The focus is on tangy, yet properly ripe, fruit which continues throughout the extremely long finish. Drink now through 2021.

Which glass for Chardonnay?

Most people only have one or two different kinds of wine glasses. I have many and a strong believer that glasses do make a difference. I often taste review wines in a variety of stems, just to see what the differences might be.

This wine is very good in a “normal” white wine glass. My standard there is the Riedel Riesling glass. However, Riedel has a new glass designed specifically for oaked Chardonnay and it is an exceptional choice for this wine. That glass, with a much larger bowl and opening, makes the spices softer and prettier, showcases the fruit even more and exposes a little more complexity.

Please enjoy my other coverage of Shafer

2014 Shafer One Point Five Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District Napa Valley

Copyright 2017 Fred Swan. Photo courtesy of Shafer. All rights reserved.

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  1. Brian

    Great tips for drinking the Shafer Chardonnay. Still looking forward to a trip to Napa. I almost made it when I visited SF but didn’t make the extra drive.

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