2018 Old Sparky


“We conceived Old Sparky when we decided we needed something really special out of To Kalon. And we're always looking forward towards what that blend is going to be. What's it going to taste like? Because each year, it's completely different.” — Fred Schrader

  • Vintage 2018
  • Vineyard Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard
  • Appellation Oakville, Napa Valley
  • Varietal Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Clone Clones 4, 6, and 337
  • Cooperage Aged 20 months in rare Darnajou French oak barrels
  • Winemaker Thomas River Brown
  • Tasting Notes

    Blended from the finest barrels of Cabernet in our cellar, Schrader Old Sparky is a wine for the ages. Magnificent and important, it reveals an extraordinarily dense fruit core, especially blackberries and blueberries, layered with gorgeous notes of dark chocolate, roasted coffee, sweet earth, and cedar. Profoundly rich, the purity and concentration of this wine is legendary. The well-woven tannins provide great texture and natural acidity that perfectly support the broad volume of fruit. The 2018 vintage is extraordinary and will continue to evolve and gain further complexity with time in the cellar.

  • Accolades

    100 Pts. “Produced predominately from clone 4, as always, the “Old Sparky” label is a best barrel selection from Beckstoffer’s To Kalon vineyard in Oakville. The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Old Sparky Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard was aged in 100% new Darnajou and Taransaud French oak barrels for 18 months. Deep garnet-purple in color, it needs a little coaxing to begin to reveal fragrant notions of crushed black currants, mulberries, juicy red and black plums and lilacs with hints of dark chocolate, rose oil and tilled soil plus a waft of unsmoked cigars. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is rich yet not at all heavy, featuring loads of bright red fruit accents among the profound black berry and savory elements. Multilayered, shimmering with energy and beautifully perfumed, it has gorgeous, ripe, plush tannins and a lively backbone, finishing very long and mineral laced. Bottled in magnums, 418 nine-liter cases were made.”
    — Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate

    100 Pts. “There are few vintages of Old Sparky that don’t merit a perfect rating, and the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard Old Sparky isn’t one of them. This flawless wine offers up a wild smorgasbord of aromas and flavors, with loads of creme de cassis, blueberries, scorched earth, lead pencil, violets, blood orange, tobacco. and flowery incense all developing with time in the glass. Deep purple-hued and incredibly full-bodied, it has ripe, silky tannins, perfect balance, and a finish that won’t 9uit. This magical wine stays weightless and elegant on the palate, never seeming heavy, cumbersome, or over the top, and it’s a wine that just begs to be drunk yet will evolve for decades. Hats off to winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown for yet another heavenly Napa Cabernet Sauvignon that could come from nowhere else in the world. Life is too short not to have experienced this cuvee!”
    — Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com

    99 Pts. “A great expression of cabernet sauvignon. Full-bodied with notes of crushed berries and nuts. Well balanced, with great quality to the tannins and pleasant acidity. The structure and texture are in harmony, leading to a long, flavorful finish. Shows wonderful length and beauty. Goes on and on. Needs at least five years to mellow. Try after 2025.”
    — James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com

    96 Pts. “Completely jam-packed, this is a well-endowed, muscular wine that brims with steeped black currant, fig and boysenberry flavors, supported in turn by beams of cocoa, warm earth, anise and smoldering tobacco. The dense, grippy, tar-edged finish has the energy for balance, with the fruit showing ample cut all the way through. For those who like them big. Best from 2023 through 2040.”
    — James Molesworth, Wine Spectator

  • Vineyard

    First planted in 1868 by viticultural and winemaking icon Hamilton Crabb, To Kalon Vineyard® has long been regarded as the source of Napa Valley’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Within the prime vineyard blocks, an alluvial fan provides excellent and varied mineral deposits, and the rich soils are filled with marine sediment that gives our wines their distinctive profiles. The vines receive full sun and optimal heat during the day and are cooled by marine fog at night. These conditions allow the Cabernet Sauvignon planted in the vineyard to display its own unique character, and this celebration of individuality is the essence of Schrader ®.

  • Vintage

    After a wet and cool winter, both bud break and flowering got off to a later-than-normal start. Summer brought nice, even temperatures with very few heat spikes, resulting in great phenolic development in the grapes and even ripening across all our vineyard sites. Due to the lower-than-normal summer temperatures, the grapes enjoyed long, steady ripening. This allowed for wonderful sugar development while maintaining structure. Once in barrel, the wines showed prodigious depth and incredible character that wonderfully displayed the benefits of slow, even ripening. A winemaker’s dream, the 2018 vintage has produced wines that will provide exceptional pleasure upon release and age gracefully in your cellar.