TNR: Shafer Sunspot 2001

Its a subset of Hillside Select? Does that mean that by definition HSS is worse in years where Sunspot is produced? Anybody had this wine and have a comment? Tx.

I believe, and could be mistaken, that Sunspot was only produced in 1996 and 2001? I think 2001 was just magnums (for the 25th anniversary). That being said, I have never tried it.

I got a taste of the 2001 out of a magnum recently. Was tight in need of decanting or more time.

Daniel is correct. Sunspot has only been released in '96 and '01 and only in magnum.

I’ve been fortunate to taste '01 Sunspot a couple of times. First time was from a bottle Matt Lichtenberg brought to the Shafer dinner 4 or so years ago that Matt and Howard Horwitz organized at Campanile. We also drank '96 Sunspot that night along with every Hillside then produced; it was quite a night. I preferred '01 Hillside that night over '01 Sunspot (it was right before '01 Hillside was released; I remember with specificity because John Shafer brought '01 Hillside and it hadn’t yet been released). More recently, David Griffith brought a bottle of ‘01 Sunspot to the Winos’ dinner last month. I thought it was terrific and better than the ‘01 Hillside we drank as part of a Hillside vertical at the Winos’ dinner a month before. BTW, '01 Hillside is my favorite Hillside for current drinking. Sunspot, it kills me to say, is better. Kills me because I had a chance to buy several bottles seeral years ago at a reasonable price and passed because at that time I didn’t think it would ever be as good as '01 Hillside.

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Thanks Mark. Interesting observations. I just bought one for 370 bucks on WC. I guess I’ll let it sleep for a little while.

I am willing to stand corrected, but I believe the Sunspot is offered annually at Premiere Napa Valley.

You are correct, sir.

CT has these listed for the premiere: 2007, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2001, 1999, 1996

and these listed for the Anniversary:2003, 2002, 2001, 1997, 1996

It is the PNV wine for Shafer, and usually snags the highest price tag.

Sunspot is actually a small, defined piece of where the Hillside Select juice comes from. Never had it, usually really expensive. Can’t imagine it’s that much better than the regular HSS.

My comment about Sunspot Magnums relates to the vintages available at retail in Southern California. Other vintages may be offered at the PNV, but Sunspot other than '96 and the even more abundantly available '01, were/are not often seen at retail. At least here.

If I recall, the 01 Sunspot was made from the last old vines of Sunsport, just before the vines were ripped out and replanted. Don’t know if that plot is back contributing its now-young vine juice to HSS.

Or very close thereto. I participated in the PNV pool for a few years at Gary’s Wine and as a bottom-feeder, never got close to the Sunspot - although none of it ever hits retail when Gary’s wins it. Price at auction can be close to $500 a bottle.


Your comment regarding vintages available at retail is correct. Only 1996 & 2001 were released, only in Magnum. Interesting to know that they make lots available at the auction.

I tasted the 2001 at the legendary Shafer Hillside Dinner at the Post House in NYC. Taylor Kamp was offering others not at his table for a buy-in on a glass of Sunspot. Memories of that evening are quite blurry, but I remember having a glass of this side by side with the 01 Hillside. Of course the wines were still quite young then.

Nice score Jeff!

Just recieved the listing for this years PNV. Alas, Sunspot is represented once again.

Shafer Vineyards
Cases: 5
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintage: 2008
Release Date: September - 2011
Appellation: Stags Leap District

Lot Number: 43

Lot Description:
With its steep slope and western exposure, Shafer’s Sunspot Vineyard resembles its namesake, a favorite Utah ski run where John Shafer taught his children to ski. Sunspot forms the backbone of Shafer’s Hillside Select. Here it stars solo in a quarter barrel lot from the 2008 vintage.

winebid just bought it.

So anyone had a Sunspot lately? I have a couple slumbering…