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).
“The 2019 Chardonnay Red Shoulder Ranch is a beautiful wine. Soft, creamy and layered in the glass, the 2019 possesses superb balance from the outset. Lees stirring brings out creaminess and resonance, yet the 2019 retains terrific energy to match its mid-weight personality. This is very nicely done.”
(92-94) points, Vinous Media, Jan 2021
“The 2019 Chardonnay Red Shoulder Ranch opens with opulent scents of pineapple upside-down cake, green mango and ripe apricots with hints of candied ginger, brioche, allspice and toasted almonds. The rich, creamy-textured palate is laden with tropical fruit and juicy peach flavours, supported by a racy backbone and finishes long and spicy. (Tasted as a barrel sample.)”
(91-93) points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, March 2021