“Any time you try something new, you take a gamble. But the story of TD-9 is all about risk-taking and a sense of adventure – it was there at our founding and it’s part of our DNA today.”
Doug Shafer on TD-9
This fall, Shafer introduces the inaugural vintage of TD-9. This is a wine that encapsulates the strengths that make Shafer one of Napa’s greats: the skill and intuition of winemaker Elias Fernandez, and the entrepreneurial spirit of the Shafer family. A couple harvests ago, Elias came to the table with a proposal. He wanted to make a wine with the best fruit from a small collection of vineyard sites that Shafer owns just south of Stags Leap District. Elias didn’t want to be bound by variety or percentages. He wanted excellence. Needless to say, it was a very good thing that John and Doug Shafer accepted that proposal.
Consider TD-9 an opportunity to honour Shafer’s roots. The name references John Shafer’s early days as a Napa pioneer who, in the space of a few months in 1973, went from riding morning commuter trains in Chicago to teaching himself to drive an ancient tractor (a TD-9) left behind in his vineyard property’s drive shed. There he was, wrestling with mud, rocks, and vines. John had never grown grapes or made wine in his life, but he was a risk-taker and a keen observer who saw potential where others did not. That spirit of adventure still guides the winery today, and that ability to tune-in on a good idea brought TD-9 to life.
The 2015 growing season was another in a string of warm, sunny vintages from spring through early autumn, with consistent daytime heat and cool evenings. Fruited ripened with abundant colour and concentration and enticing, rich aromatics. Elias selected fruit from Shafer’s hillside vineyards in Stags Leap District and Yountville, as well as from a vineyard in the foothills of the Vaca Mountains just south of Stags Leap. You can expect the components of the wine to change a little from year to year; in 2015, the final blend comprises 56% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 16% Malbec. TD-9 is an opportunity to take the best fruit from these vineyards each year to create the most compelling wine the vintage can offer.
Shafer makes powerful wines with incredible balance, and TD-9 is no exception. After 20 months in new French oak, the nose is all vibrant, complex red and black fruit with dried herbs – lavender and thyme. The palate pulls in dried cherry and blackberry with licorice, cocoa, wet-slate minerality, and ripe, seamless tannins. Taut acidity keeps the wine light on its feet.
“Powerful and finely textured, with concentrated dried cherry, dark currant and roasted plum flavours that are filled with lively minerality. Richly spiced, showing dried herbal notes on the chiseled finish. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. Drink now through 2022.”
92 points, Wine Spectator, August 2017