Wine Advocate 100 points - In contrast to the more linear, structured, but massive 2001, the 2002 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is pure fruit-bomb material, but stunningly proportioned, beautifully pure, with notes of melted chocolate, blackcurrant jam, sweet black cherries, licorice, camphor and charcoal. Very full-bodied, like the 2001, but much more lavishly fruited, it is more accessible and hedonistically, as well as intellectually, satisfying. If the 2001 is the long-distance runner, this comes across more like a middle-distancer. It had performed fabulously well since it was released by the winery, and even though it’s still an adolescent in terms of its evolution, this wine is a head-turner in wine tastings, and a spectacular effort from Napa. Drink now or drink in 20-25 years.
Steve Tanzer 96 points - One of the world’s greatest wines year in and year out is Shafer’s Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select. The 2002 was a candidate for perfection the first time I tasted it. The estate keeps this cuvee 32 months in 100% new French oak, so I had a number of chances to see it from barrel. Moreover, I purchased the wine for my own cellar and have had it at least a half dozen times since bottling, and it just gets more profound with each sip. This wine is beyond belief for how it balances its extraordinary richness, purity of personality, and the elegance and finesse of the Stags Leap District with massive cassis fruit, spring flowers, toasty oak and earth. The wine is fabulously concentrated, multidimensional and built like a skyscraper, yet nothing is out of place. The wood, alcohol, acidity and tannin are all in perfect balance. This offering is a tribute to the greatness of Napa Valley, which was recognized by men and women hundreds of years ago, and to the modern day genius of the Shafer family. This 2002 has 50 years of life ahead of it - but why wait!
Wine Spectator 95 points - In what has proven to be a sometimes difficult year, Shafer shines once again with this spectacular, immensely extracted Cabernet. Underpinned by a wealth of concentrated cassis-like fruit, shot through with rich, loamy spice and awash in altogether extravagant oak, it is a wine that does not speak in hushed tones but comes with plenty of drama. For all of its very considerable weight and undisguised power, it still shows a fine sense of overall balance, and the evident tannins and heat that emerge in its very long finish are beautifully buffered by its deep and wholly compelling fruit.
2002 SHAFER CABERNET SAUVIGNON HILLSIDE SELECT
"The perfect, incredibly flamboyant and aromatic 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is one of the most profound California Cabernets I have ever tasted. Boasting an inky/purple color as well as an extraordinary perfume of projected aromas of smoke, black currants, flowers, licorice, and subtle oak, it possesses phenomenal intensity, a multilayered mid-palate, and a finish that lasts for over a minute. This is as profound as Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon can be, combining extraordinary power, texture, richness, and depth with remarkable complexity, elegance, and seamlessness. Drink this spectacular offering now and over the next 25+ years."
Robert Parker 100