In 2017 Shafer introduced the inaugural vintage of TD-9. This is a wine that encapsulates the strengths that make Shafer one of Napa’s great wineries: 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 the winery’s vineyard sites 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.
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.
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. Fruit 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.
“While the TD-9 refers to the tractor that transformed John Shafer’s train-riding commuter life to one of vinous adventure, this elegant liquid is far frim mechanical. Aged for 20 months in French oak and at a seemingly high ABV of 15.3%, this is a charming balancing act of Stags Leap-ian quality. Plush tannins are finely grained in this blend of 56% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 16% Malbec. Notes of lavender, mocha cappuccino, black raspberry, and saddle leather combine with an animal core-savory and dark, The finish is a hint of dark chocolate-covered orange peel.”
95 points, Anthony Dias Blue, Tasting Panel, Sept 2017
“This is a new offering from the producer, sparked by winemaker Elias Fernandez’s desire to make a Merlot-based blend, rather than a varietal Merlot. It is an estate-grown blend of 56% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Malbec. Rich and concentrated, it’s delightfully robust and vibrant, offering a mix of blackberry, blueberry and caramel chocolate flavours that finish in soft, integrated oak.”
94 points, Wine Enthusiast, March 2018
“An addition to the range, the 2015 TD-9 is a big, full-throttle wine. Merlot is at the core of TD-9, but Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec play important roles in the blend too. A rush of dark red cherry, pomegranate, spice and lavender lead into the voluptuous, racy finish. There is still some tannin that needs time to resolve, but this is a fabulous debut from Shafer. The TD-9 replaces the Merlot in the Shafer lineup and looks like it will be a more ambitious wine. The name is taken after the TD-9 tractor John Shafer drove in his early days in Napa Valley. 2018-2025.”
93 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, March 2018
“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, Aug 2017