Toolbox Wine Co.

2008 “THIRST” J.T. Snow Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon

California: Napa Valley

Offer Expired:Jul 16, 2012 at 11:59 pm
Avg. Price

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Mission Codename: Doing Well by Doing Good

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Infiltrate Toolbox Wine Company, whose spectacular 2008 THIRST Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon captivated Agent Red during a recent covert tasting. Procure an ample allocation for our well-deserving Operatives.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Toolbox Wine Company

Wine Subject: 2008 THIRST Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemakers: Katie Hamilton Shaffer & Nancy Otton

Backgrounder: Napa Cabernet Sauvignon continues to dominate as the leader in California red wine. For good reason, too, as Napa produces some of the richest and most delicious examples on the planet. The fruit from this wine hails from Maroon Vineyards (a Wine Spies Operative Favorite) in newly designated Coombsville AVA. The Coombsville region, just east of Napa City proper, is best known for producing exquisite Napa Valley Cabernet.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Beautiful dark ruby hues, with bold magenta at the edges. After swirling, the wine settles quickly, leaving behind short columns of skinny, wine-colored tears that move slowly down the glass.

Smell – Heady, sweet, lush and warm, with a bold rush of blueberry, blackberry and raspberry right up front. These are accompanied by sweet spice, fresh red rose petals, cigar box, Bing cherry, subtle leather and a hint of cured meats.

Feel – Soft and silky on the attack, lightweight across the mid-palate. After a moment, fine-grained tannins and balanced acids add a gradually encroaching complexity.

Taste – Juicy and ripe, with generous mixed blackberry, blueberry, raspberry and wild strawberry fruit in the lead. These flavors yield to braised black fig, supple leather, black and red flower petals, dark tobacco, flint, black pepper and softest brown spice.

Finish – Juicy and delicious with long-lingering red and black berry that fades to reveal flint, black pepper, leather and flower petals.

Conclusion – Beautiful! Our tasting panel is in love with this lovely, delicious, approachable, food-friendly gem of a wine. Today’s 2008 Toolbox Wine Co. THIRST Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon gets our very hearty recommendation. This great Napa Cabernet has just the right amount complexity to make it a compelling wine, without sacrificing accessibility. In other words, this wine is interesting while also being easy-drinking. In fact, it is so easy to imbibe that we found ourselves taking big gulps of the wine, in order to enjoy the depth of flavors and lush feel. Pair this elegant, juicy wine as you would a classic Cali Cab. We enjoyed ours with a garlic and rock salt rubbed t-bone steak. The combination was sublime. Enjoy now, but cellar a few bottles for the next decade and beyond. When you’re done with the bottle, put it on your mantle. The metal label is something to marvel at!

Mission Report:

SUBJECT: Katie Hamilton Shaffer & partner Nancy Otton

WINE EDUCATION: School of Hard Knocks

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Chef, quality assurance manager, forklift queen, sweeper and chief bottler…

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Wine is THIRST for thought. Drink what you like, make what you like more.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: “Serious Wines. Playful Marketing”

FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: We launched our winery in 2009, releasing a few varietals. This 2008 THIRST however is the first release of our reserve collectors “Signature Series” with J.T. Snow, having released just this past January…


AGENT RED: Greetings, Katie and Nancy! We are thrilled to be showing your 2008 THIRST Cabernet Sauvignon today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

WINEMAKERS: Thanks for having me! Glad you were spying on me…

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

WINEMAKERS: I wanted to go to Culinary School but they didn’t have a soccer team ;o) Could you imagine that soccer team? I took a college soccer scholarship and after playing ball decided to fulfill my culinary/wine passion moving to Napa Valley – I worked as a private chef for a short time and fell in love with the craft of wine and all that surrounded it: bringing together friends, family and conversation while enhancing any great meal and the deepest expression of nature. It’s one of the only things in life I have the most control over, allowing me to produce something I not only like, but crafting to express who I am through the bottle… I still think that Culinary Soccer team would be a funny SNL skit!

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

WINEMAKERS: Steve Reynolds is a dear friend of mine and pioneer in the wine business. I look up to him because he also took his passion and hobby and made it happen…

RED: Who do you make wine for?

WINEMAKERS: Me, myself and I… My partner Nancy and I make what we like and hope everyone agrees!

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

WINEMAKERS: Toolbox is dedicated to crafting quality yet affordable wines, that give back. The mission for THIRST is to allow our consumers to personally pay it forward and feel fulfilled not only through the glass, but beyond the bottle. We partnered with my friend J.T. Snow, former MLB player and 6-time golden glover. But MOST IMPORTANTLY San Francisco Giant! Sorry Dodger Fans…In 2010 J.T.‘s niece Raquel was diagnosed with a rare disease – Wolfram syndrome. Dedicated to raising funds to support researchers at Washington University School of Medicine working to stop the progression of this disease, a portion of proceeds through “THIRST” is donated to the Jack and J.T. Snow Fund at Washington University in St. Louis. We wanted to craft a serious wine with a unique mission, but at a reasonable price. With each vintage, THIRST will change its label “texture" literally merging baseball memorabilia and wine. This “signature series” 2008 initial launch is a hand crafted antiqued pewter from France – we HAND LABEL every single bottle personally. Yes, no joke. I label each and every one. SO, if you buy multiple bottles I can guarantee that no bottle is the same. And don’t judge me if one is crooked – joking, well not really. 2009 will venture to the embossed wood of baseball bat. 2010, embossed brown leather of the baseball mitt, followed by 2011 the embossed leather of baseball with red stitches… a collector’s series indeed!

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

WINEMAKERS: FOOD. I’m not that stickler that tells you only a braised short rib or pork belly is the only pairing. Though that would rock! I think wine is all about the people that surround you, the conversation and your enjoyment of the story told within the glass. Hence our Toolbox tagline: “Serious Wines. Playful Marketing.” Drink what you like, life is too short to judge…

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Coombsville AVA such a special place for Cabernet Sauvignon?

WINEMAKERS: We sourced this fruit from Maroon Winery. At the time Coombsville was not a designated AVA so we could only specify Napa Valley. However, now a designated appellation, Coombsville vintners production mirrors that of Napa Valley at large focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordelais varietals. With varied soil types and numerous meso-climates spread throughout its rolling landscape Coombsville wines can be recognized by their typically soft but significant tannins, which provide excellent structure and mouthfeel, along with underlying layers of earth and mineral flavors. We did add in a small amount of Zinfandel which brought out a brighter less tannic fruit to this vintage.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

WINEMAKERS: Building our new Toolbox brand/label along with having just launched THIRST in partnership with the SF Giants. Doing a lot of traveling/hosting pouring events with J.T. and just generally keeping my head above water (or wine)

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

WINEMAKERS: I don’t think our wine should be judged, simply appreciated for its quality and uniqueness.

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

WINEMAKERS: How do you “THIRST it Forward” and give back?

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!


What the Winery Says

Awards & Accolades:

93 Points/Exceptional/Gold MedalBeverage Testing InstituteWORLD WINE CHAMPIONSHIPS AWARD

About This Wine:

J.T. Snow – Former MLB Player – San Francisco Giants – For 13 years I gave back to baseball, today I am giving back beyond the field. In 2010 my niece Raquel was diagnosed with a rare disease – Wolfram syndrome. Dedicated to raising funds to support researchers at Washington University School of Medicine working to stop the progression of this disease, a portion of proceeds through “THIRST” will be donated to the Jack and J.T. Snow Fund at Washington University in St. Louis. Please join us by raising a glass, thank you for your support.

This was an enjoyable wine that we put together as it incorporates some varietals that our dear friends at Maroon Vineyards, where we sourced the grapes, they have not historically blended together. The Cabernet Sauvignon base of the blend was medium bodied and exhibited dark and ripe berry fruit, both aromatically and on the palate. With that said, we felt this Cabernet lent itself to the blending in of the more muscular and firm Petit Verdot, which provides structure and a nice tannin framework to the blend. The small amounts of Petit Sirah and Zinfandel add a nice touch of spice to the aromas and finish.

About The Winery:

Girlfriends got together to raise a glass, celebrate life & share the importance of a good cork-“screw” to hold things together all while “Thirsting it Forward” by donating a portion of all proceeds to charitable partner Habitat for Humanity. Toolbox is proof that you can’t judge a book by its cover, and we promise our wines over deliver. Sourcing from premier vineyards, Toolbox is dedicated to quality and affordable wines… with a sense of humor. Because you deserve good juice, our mission is to craft wines that fit all your needs; Whether your “Tool Time” is a casual Tuesday night or a Saturday dinner with friends – you won’t feel guilty but can certainly impress.

Katie Hamilton Shaffer: Quality Assurance Manager – Born in Davis, CA, Katie is the energizer bunny for Toolbox. With the work ethic of a sloth, after a career in professional soccer it was time to follow her passion for food & wine. During her time working with premier wineries to host events and educate groups about winemaking & the Napa Valley, Katie met her now mentor. Never one to sit on the sidelines, when Katie learned her mentor’s daughter had been diagnosed with a rare life threatening disorder, Katie co-founded the Erika Van Giesen Foundation. Incorporating all her passions, for 5 years she has been hosting an annual Food & Wine Gala whose funds keep the doors open to “Katie’s Clinic for RETT Syndrome” at Children’s Hospital Oakland. Katie is currently filming her TV Show “Feast it Forward,” a show she wrote based on philanthropic living in the wine country taking the consumers “beyond the bottle” as a fellow vintner. Katie is the mastermind behind the Toolbox brand and marketing working on direct partnerships, events, new brands and direct sales in CA. You can learn more on her show at

Nancy Otton: General Contractor – A true California girl, born & raised in the South Bay Area. Broadening her horizons as a certified pilot has enlightened her enthusiasm for various ventures; a career in landscaping, producing her super-boutique estate wine label Ramspur, mothering and milking goats on her farm, and working until the cows come on her hillside property. As “General Contractor,” this is the perfect role for Nancy who wears a multitude of hats. As an accountant and business manager, at Toolbox Wine Co. she runs the company, manages the books, and generally tries to keep us in line.

Technical Analysis:

Varietal Composition: 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9 % Petit Verdot, 2 % Petit Sirah, 1 % Zinfandel

Appellation: Napa Valley

Alcohol: 14.2%

TA: 0.72 g/ 100ml

pH: 3.75

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