Shafer’s Red Shoulder Ranch vineyard in Carneros is home to countless gophers who love to feast on young vine roots. To contain this problem, Shafer erected owl nesting boxes and hawk perches to encourage day and night rodent patrol. The Red-shouldered hawks and other birds of prey do such an outstanding job, the vineyard was named in their honour.
This vineyard offers a long, consistently cool growing season that is ideal for retaining acidity in Chardonnay fruit. Grapes were harvested by hand, then whole cluster pressed. To focus on varietal flavours, Shafer only uses wild yeast for fermentation and does not put the wine through malolactic fermentation. The majority of the wine spends 14 months aging in new French oak barrels. The remainder matures in stainless steel “barrels” (plenty of fine lees contact from the low horizontal profile, but no oak influence).
“Year in and year out Shafer consistently delivers silky smooth Chardonnay guaranteed to impress California white wine devotees. This 2018 Red Shoulder Ranch is another winner featuring a plethora of delicious fruit flavours including fresh pineapple, nectarine, ripe apricot, pear, mango, tangerine and honeysuckle, yet so refreshing and dense with minerality on the finish. Bravo.”
96 points, California Wine Advisors, Jan 2021
“This robust, full-bodied white holds its weight and pedigree remarkably well, offering an intensely flavoured, richly layered experience that seamlessly provides freshness along the way. Apple, cinnamon and nutmeg are complemented by toasted oak and lasting structure.”
95 points, Wine Enthusiast, Nov 2020