93 Points Wine Enthusiast : Shafer's single-vineyard Carneros-grown Chardonnay is produced from small-clustered clones of grapes selected for their low yields and distinctive flavors. Fermentation takes place within individual oak and stainless steel barrels using native yeasts. The wine matures on the lees for 14 months and since it undergoes no malolactic fermentation this Chardonnay retains a lively natural acidity. The vineyard is named for its Red-shouldered Hawks and other birds of prey, who play an important role in Shafer's natural farming practices. The 2009 offers lush, luxurious aromas and flavors of melon, honeysuckle, apricot, pineapple and flint all held together with bright acidity, good structure and elegant balance.
A benchmark producer in the Napa Valley, Shafer Vineyards traces its beginnings to 1972 when John Shafer left a 23-year career in the publishing industry to pursue a second career in wine. After purchasing a 210-acre estate in the famed Stags Leap District, the Shafer family faced the arduous task of replanting the existing vineyards, which dated back to the 1920s.
Their Red Shoulder Ranch vineyard is located at the tip of the San Francisco Bay, sixty-eight acres draped across rolling hills. Here they've planted a blend of five Chardonnay clones which give low yields and abundant flavors. Robert Parker considers this wine to be "one of the best non-malolactic, barrel-fermented Chardonnays in California." We happen to agree as the Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay consistently impresses with rich notes of pear, melon and a hint of apple.