Shafer TD-9 2018, Napa Valley, California

TD-9 is a proprietary blend that celebrates a bold move. In 1973, in the space of a few months, John Shafer went from riding morning commuter trains in Chicago to teaching himself to drive a TD-9 tractor in his Napa Valley vineyard. He’d never grown grapes or made wine in his life. That spirit of risk-taking and adventure still guides Shafer today and inspired the creation of this new wine. Vineyard locations: Stags Leap District, Yountville, and a vineyard in the foothills of the Vaca Mountains just south of Stags Leap District. 2018 vintage – 56% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Malbec. Aged 20 months in 60-gallon French oak barrels (100% new). “Beautiful nose of blackberries, black cherries and roasted figs, laced with enticing notes of scorched earth, anise, graphite, with cocoa, sweet vanilla. On the palate, this is full and suave with well-built but velvety tannins, medium/low acidity, this is big but shows lots of nuance, too. Roasted fig, blackberry and dark plum fruit is tossed with mesquite, mint, eucalyptus and clove notes, along with pretty violets and earth that come out more and more with air. This really does need time and air to unwind, but it is delightful, delicious, complex stuff. Tons of Napa goodness for a reasonable price.”