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 2016 growing season presented optimal conditions for the fruit, with winter and spring rains ending a series of drought years, leading in to a long, warm growing season. Fruit ripened with radiant 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 2016, the final blend comprises 58% Merlot, 26% 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.
“The winery’s proprietary blend of 58% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Malbec is hugely impressive and memorable, with a smoky, toasted oak character. Plush flavors of blackberry and cherry jam meld with spice on the rich, round midpalate. It offers plenty of grip and concentration, finishing on a handful of dried herb.”
95 points, Wine Enthusiast, Jan 2019
“The 2016 TD-9 is just as impressive from bottle as it was from barrel. Bright floral notes and a rush of red cherry/red plum fruit give energy to this pliant, super-expressive wine. The 2016 has firmed up a bit since it was bottled, so a few more months should do the trick. The blend is 58% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Malbec.”
93 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, Dec 2018
“Leading off the reds, the 2016 TD-9 checks in as 58% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 16% Malbec and is a cuvée first made in 2015. Revealing considerable elegance and purity as well as medium to full-bodied richness, it offers up a terrific bouquet of black cherry and blackberry fruits, tobacco, lavender, and an alluring forest floor character. It’s already drinking beautifully yet will keep for upwards of a decade.”
93 points, JebDunnuck.com, Jan 2019