I'm as curious as everyone else about how well certain wines age, and one of the stress tests, if you will, is to taste older vintages.
When interviewing Fred Schrader last year, he poured two verticals to show how the wines were aging. Both flights were extraordinary and very revealing; all of the wines were outstanding (or better), youthful, vibrant and concentrated. Moreover, they all showed great potential for years ahead.
The first flight came from the wine he's made the longest, the Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard, followed by the T-6 bottling, which takes its name from the clone of the same name. (The other Cabernets Schrader makes include RBS, for Randy Roach, winemaker Thomas Brown and Schrader, CCS, for his wife, Carol Colesworthy Schrader, Old Sparky, made from the best eight barrels of each year, and Beckstoffer Georges III, in Rutherford, the former Beaulieu Vineyard's Georges de Latour No. 3, or BV 3).
For those fortunate to have cellared Schrader Cabernets, you're in for a treat. The wines are fun and charming to drink early on, yet are aging beautifully, retaining their generous dark berry fruitiness, fleshy textures and offering the kind of depth, concentration and complexity that bodes well for the future.
Here are my notes on the Schrader Beckstoffer To Kalon Cabernets:
2001: Dark, rich and full-bodied, dense and powerful, with tiers of ripe currant, black berry, toasty-mocha laced oak, full bodied and ending with a long persistent finish. Tannins softening. Drink now through 2020. (96 points, non-blind; 95 points when originally reviewed)
2002: Trim at first, then expansive, full-bodied, with cedary black olive, currant and plum, a narrower range of flavors and denser tannins, but still focused and complex. Drink now through 2017. (95 points non-blind; 96 points when originally reviewed)
2003: Very successful. Has gained since release. A wine of delicacy and finesse, supple, graceful, elegant and refined, with mocha-toasty oak, ripe plum and black cherry, more red than black fruit, with a long, sophisticated finish. Drink now through 2020. (95 points non-blind; 92 points when originally reviewed)
2004: Opulent, dark berry, lead pencil/graphite, tightly focused, rich yet delicate without being heavy, full-bodied, ending with a rich layered finish and a touch of mocha. Drink now through 2020. (97 points non-blind; 97 points when originally reviewed)
2005: Sleek and refined, focused on ripe plum and black cherry fruit, herb and dill, that's full-bodied, but not as rich as the T-6 bottling. Complex but not the depth of the other wines so far. Drink now through 2020. (94 points non-blind; 94 points when originally reviewed)
2006: Similarly sleek and refined, a trimmer range of flavors built around ripe plum, black cherry and raspberry flavors more traditional in Napa years ago. Complex, lingering finish. Drink now through 2020. (95 points non-blind; 95 points when originally reviewed)
2007: Here's the whole symphony playing at once. Sleek and refined, with a trim, tight, elegant focused band of cedar-laced plum, mocha, black cherry and exotic spices. Full-bodied, deftly balanced, with a pure, amazing finish. Drink now through 2025. (98 points, non-blind; 98 points when originally reviewed)
And here are my notes on the Schrader Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard Oakville Napa Valley T-6:
2003: Richer than the To Kalon, but similarly styled and structured. Trim yet expansive, with a cedary edge to the dried currant, plum and black berry. Hints of mineral and olive. Firms on the finish, where the tannins give it traction. Drink now through 2019. (96 points non-blind; 94 points when originally reviewed)
2005: Ultrarich and layered, deep, dense and concentrated, with melted chocolate, currant, plum and wild berry flavors, full-bodied, plush and layered, ending with an amazing long and intricate finish. Drink now through 2021. (97 points non-blind; 97 points when originally reviewed)
2006: Bold, rich and concentrated, with tiers of mocha, currant, black berry and plum, full blown, intense and layered, finishing the dusty cedary, with an amazing mouth-coating finish that keeps repeating the delightful flavor themes. Drink now through 2022. (98 points non-blind; 99 points when originally reviewed)
2007: Bold, rich and layered, with wonderful perfume. Plush, with mouth-coating plum, currant, black cherry and exotic spices, full-bodied, with melted chocolate, finishes with an incredibly long and persistent aftertaste, with defining depth and concentration. An extraordinary wine. (99 points non-blind; 99 points when originally reviewed)