Let's start with a tasting note - 2002 Shafer Hillside Select. "That's dark!" - deep dense purplish red . "Oh, that's big and jammy." A nose of currents, blackberry, raspberry, and mocha. In the mouth it has a sweet feel, very fruity, but also lots of tannin. Surprisingly it is medium to full-bodied, but not that big. Well, big enough - 14.9% alcohol. Made to the gout Parker, he gave it "100" points, but it's not to my gout. Maybe a meat and potatoes guy would love it, or a Godiva chocolate dame, but to me it lacks elegance and grace. It did taste better with meat and it did taste better the next day. Personally, if I were going to spend that kind of money I would rather have a first growth Bordeaux such as Chateau Latour or Chateau Petrus. They are big, but at least they don't taste like Sachar Torte or Cherry Garcia. In fact, I preferred a 2000 Fombrauge St. Emilion we tasted the day before. It was medium bodied with delicious fruit flavors and some tannin in the finish - a somewhat similar structure to the Shafer, but on a human scale. Of course, I may be biased toward Fombrauge because every time I think of it, I think of pioneer Seattle wine merchant, Randy Seeley, rolling the name off his tongue with a very appealing nasal Anglo-French accent and the emphasis on the "brauge". Okay, so Fombrauge is not a "great" wine, but it is delicious and one tenth the price. Perhaps the Shafer is just a big wine in a big bottle for big egos. It not really just a matter of style. It's a matter of culture. No wonder the European wine gurus are disturbed by the gout Parker. While it's true that they are envious, they have a point. Do American wines have to be big and brash, full of shock and awe , or can they join the civilized community of world wine.