2013 Relentless®

Once again our Syrah and Petite Sirah vineyard in the sloping foothills of the Vaca Mountains has yielded a dark, liquid feast of great richness and depth.

“Pull the cork on this vintage and you’ll find an inky, liquid feast – aromas and flavors of meat and game, briar fruit, morels, boysenberry, grilled blueberries and cinnamon. The acidity gives this otherwise deep, dark wine a liveliness that offer engaging pleasure. The ripe, silky tannins offer tremendous promise for things to come after years in the cellar.”
— Shafer winemaker Elias Fernandez


“… the 2013 Syrah Relentless … might end up being the finest one they’ve ever made … the wine is opaque black/purple with an incredible nose of subtle wood, charcoal embers, blackberry, blueberry and black raspberry fruit, baking spices, and again, a roasted meatiness with some bouquet garni thrown in the background. The complex aromatics were already starting to roar from the glass, and the wine, enormously endowed, is full-bodied and flawlessly constructed. This is a killer effort that should drink well for 40+ years.”
— Robert M. Parker, Jr., The Wine Advocate

“The 2013 Relentless melds together lovely aromatic nuance and pliant, explosive fruit, with beams of supporting acidity and tannin that give the wine its sense of proportion. Lavender, sage, menthol, licorice and plums are all given an extra kick of brightness on the finish. Varietal notes abound in the 2013.”
— Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com

Deep purple color. Intensely dark aromas of blueberry, blackberry and boysenberry topped in charcoal, magic marker, black pepper glaze and vanilla. Massive texture on the palate, this has a glycerin-like feel with grippy tannins and just enough acidity. Dense blackberry and blueberry fruit doused in shaved coconut, espresso, mint chocolate chip, black pepper glaze and sarsaparilla. Wow this is so delicious but so young. Can’t wait to see what happens to it in five to eight years.
— Isaac James Baker, Terroirist.com

“Structured and well-framed by taut tannins and lively acidity, this blend will benefit from time in the cellar. Floral blackberry and espresso aromas lead to densely complex flavors of dark plum, licorice and mineral.”
— Tim Fish, Wine Spectator

“This is, by far, the best vintage of Relentless I have tasted, a wine with brisk red fruit woven into the darker, purple tones of the vintage. The floral depths of the aroma include notes of bergamot and rose. As luscious as the texture may be, there’s an energy that drives the tannins, lending them the cool freshness of a blood orange to win the battle against the rich, chocolatey new oak in the end.”
— Joshua Green, Wine & Spirits

As usual, Shafer’s Relentless is an extremely expressive and many-layered Syrah that is unsurpassed among its peers … there are few wines in this tasting that can match its power and potential.”
Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine

“... forward, intense, cedary, dark cherry and blackberry fruit aroma with notes of smoked meat, cracked pepper, black olive, and toasty oak; full body; big, rich, extracted, meaty, mouth-filling, black fruit flavors with notes of dark chocolate and espresso … very highly recommended.”
California Grapevine

Vintage and Production Notes

Release Date: September 1, 2016

Vineyard Location: A small ridgetop site and a foothills site along the Vaca Mountains just south of Stags Leap District.  


The 2013 Growing Season: This was an ideal vintage that served up nothing but warm, sun-soaked days and perfect, chilly nights from spring through early autumn. The consistency of heat and coolness created a picture-perfect growing season in which we harvested fruit at delicious ripeness bursting with rich color and flavor.

Varietal Composition: 97% Syrah, 3% Petite Sirah

Brix at Harvest: 24.0° - 26.0°

Cooperage: 30 months in 100% new 60-gallon French oak barrels (Allier & Tronçais)

Alcohol: 15.8%

Suggested CA Retail: $87

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Video: Shafer Vineyards: The Spirit of Relentless

Shafer's bold blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah was named to honor winemaker Elias Fernandez and his relentless pursuit of quality.

The Relentless Story

Relentless is a blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah that originates in a rugged, sloping vineyard planted in the chaparral foothills of the Vaca Mountains, along Napa Valley’s drier, cooler southeast corridor. The soul of the wine, though, comes from its namesake, our longtime winemaker, Elias Fernandez, who the Shafer family honors with this proprietary blend for his relentless pursuit of quality.

La Mesa vineyard

Relentless is a wine that originates in a rugged, sloping vineyard planted within the chaparral foothills of the Vaca Mountains, along Napa Valley’s arid, cooler southeast corridor. For more than a decade this site has produced a consistently rich, elegant proprietary blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah.

The soul of the wine, though, comes from its namesake, Shafer’s longtime winemaker, Elias Fernandez. Before the first vintage was bottled in 1999 and before the first label was printed, the Shafer family wanted this wine to honor Elias for the key attribute they believed put him in a class all his own – his relentless pursuit of quality in winemaking.

Tenacious mindset
Elias, born the son of seasonal farm workers, went on to graduate with honors from University of California, Davis and joined the Shafer team in 1984.

“His attention to detail in the vineyards and the cellar is unmatched,” says Doug Shafer. “He inspects and tests hundreds of corks each year; he checks every new barrel coming into the winery for toast level, grain tightness, and more; every day we’re bottling he comes to the winery at 5:00 a.m. and personally steam cleans every piece of equipment that will come in contact with the wine. He is truly relentless.”

And so Relentless emerged as a testament to both a person and a place.

Original approach
Doug Shafer and Elias Fernandez originally conceived of Relentless as a field blend, meaning that the vineyard site was planted to 80 percent Syrah and 20 percent Petite Sirah. Since then the two grape varieties were picked, crushed and fermented as one. For ten vintages the Shafer team produced the wine in this style winning over consumers and critics alike. The 2008 vintage was named Wine Spectator’s “Wine of the Year” in November, 2012.

In the first vintages, the wine was dominated by the Petite Sirah’s blueberry, smoke and char aromas and flavors. But as years went by and the vines matured, it was the Syrah that began to take the lead position with it rich, meaty aromas and flavors in combination with more floral, perfumy characteristics.

Question Everything
As with each of their wines the Shafer team kept asking if Relentless had reached its finest expression. With this pursuit in mind the decision was made to move away from the structure of a field blend toward an approach similar to Hillside Select® in which only the most compelling, refined fruit of the vintage determined the make-up of the wine.

With this approach as a guide the 2010 Relentless was made as a proprietary blend of 94 percent Syrah and 6 percent Petite Sirah.

“Elias and I believe that this new take on Relentless gives everything that fans of the wine have loved while taking it to a new level,” says Doug Shafer. “It’s a style that we’re very excited about, believing that it lives up to the wine’s name and reputation.”

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