I reviewed the Shafer Vineyards 2015 TD-9 last year and enjoyed it so much, I had to do a vintage update. One of the things I love (besides the taste) is the story behind the name.
At 50 years old, John Shafer left his business shoes and commuter trains behind in Chicago, trading them in for a pair of boots and a TD-9 tractor. Without a green thumb to speak of, he picked up his family and purchased his first piece of Napa Valley property. On that property were old sheds and ancient farming equipment — among them an International Harvester tractor from the 1950s. One of his first challenges was learning how to drive the rickety old beast — but he loved every moment of it.
I can very much relate to this story: shifting gears, changing trajectory — that’s really what life is all about isn’t it. And when you find success in that new direction, so much the better. So cheers to you, John, and the Napa Valley legend you created by making that decision.
About the Wine: The Shafer Vineyards 2016 TD-9 is made from 58% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 16% Malbec grapes harvested from Stags Leap District, Yountville, and a vineyard in the foothills of the Vaca Mountains just south of Stags Leap District. The wine was aged in 60-gallon French oak barrels (100% new), Allier and Tronçais cooperages, for 20 months.
Flavor Profile: Open up the bottle of the Shafer Vineyards 2016 TD-9 and breathe in the cold, dank aroma of an underground cellar. But upon pouring the wine, you’ll find immediate fragrances of blackberry and boysenberry jam.
NOTE: I decanted this wine for an hour before taking the following notes.
Initial aromas are of blackberry, anise, cassis, dar-petaled flowers, a rocky minterality and a hint of damp oak. Swirl and the acidity comes alive with fresher fruits (read: less jammy) of blackberry and boysenberry along with hints of chocolate or mocha and a savory, reduced balsamic-like decadence.
The palate of the Shafer Vineyards 2016 TD-9 is plushy with tannins that delicately coat the tongue, leading to a structure and solidity and ultimately toward a lingering finish. This Bordeaux-inspired blend is full bodied, with a medium acidity that kicks in about ½ way through the tasting, crescendo-ing at the very last second with a comforting warmth. Dominant flavors are of fresh oak wood, blackberry, boysenberry, licorice, coffee grounds, fresh forest floor complete with damp soil and dewy vegetation, and a red rock minerality. The afterbreath is left with a lingering cologne-like scent.
Food Pairing: I paired the Shafer Vineyards 2016 TD-9 with seared salmon served with roasted beet and farro pilaf, a char-grilled red onion and fresh arugula dressed lightly in balsamic. Loved this pairing: The earthy-sweetness of the beetroot brought out that kind of reduced balsamic sweet-savory element initially sensed on the nose, adding a decadence without any kind of cloying richness. The charred onion seemed to thin-out the tannins on the mouthfeel while simultaneously pulling out the acidity, allowing for the freshness of the fruit flavors to shine through. The arugula amplified the wine’s minerality as well as uplifted the forest-floor element.
I will also add here that over the course of the evening, the wine further opened up to plushy-fruit aromatics both on the nose and on the palate.
More Info: I paired the Shafer Vineyards 2016 TD-9 as a sample for review. (Cheers Andy!) Price: $60. For more information about Shafer Vineyards, their wines, and to purchase wine directly, please visit the Shafer Vineyards website.
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**Please note: all reviews and opinions are my own and are not associated with any of my places of business. I will always state when a wine has been sent as a sample for review. Sending samples for review on my personal website in no way guarantees coverage in any other media outlet I may be currently associated with.**