#4: The 2013 TOR Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Beckstoffer To-Kalon’, Napa Valley

Wine Spectrum’s #4 Wine of 2015

2013 TOR (Available Online)

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  ‘Beckstoffer To-Kalon’, Napa Valley

Wine Spectrum Rated 97: Where the 2012 To Kalon Cabernet was a mix of red fruit and black fruit, the 2013 is all about the black fruits. Deep black cherry, black raspberry and roasted meats are what you will find when you try the 2013. In this vintage, there are very firm but ripe tannins with fantastic lifting acidity and sweet fruit from the Clone 337 Cabernet playing off the structure and intensity of the palate. This vintage is probably going the be the longest and best lived vintage we have had from To Kalon since 2010 or maybe even 2006. The style of the vintage shows through loud and clear on this wine, with a long graceful life ahead of it. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 600 cases produced. 

Robert Parker Rated 96: The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To Kalon, or course, comes from that great first-growth vineyard, and what’s not to like, as everyone seems to nail a classic Cabernet from this large holding on the valley floor in Oakville. Deep purple, with notes of creosote, charcoal, blueberry and blackcurrant fruit as well as some licorice and background oak, this wine has great intensity, a magnificent mouthfeel and texture, and a long, long finish. 

TOR Wines

Tor Kenward spent 27 years as a senior executive with Beringer Vineyards working in winemaking and marketing, helping to build a wine company known to collectors worldwide for its outstanding Reserve and single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons. He retired in 2001, and along with his wife Susan, started TOR Kenward Family Wines, a small wine company based on single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnays.

“For three decades I made a least one barrel of wine each vintage from Beringer’s best vineyard sites,” recalls Tor Kenward. “I had great mentors, Ed Sbragia and Bob Steinhauer, encouraging me to make wine and grow grapes. We had different approaches, but shared the same passion: great wine, and how to make it. We tasted together, traveled together to Europe to learn more, and shared the secrets we unearthed along the journey.”

Our winemaking is driven by the same philosophy: constantly striving for the best, whatever it takes. Tor works exclusively with small cooperage houses in France to ensure we have the best barrels, and uses natural yeasts for both primary and secondary fermentations. Grapes are hand sorted, and our wines are crafted in very small cuvees so as to receive minimal handling. “If we harvest what we consider world-class grapes, our job as winemakers is to stay out of the way. That takes experience and patience, but can be very rewarding when it all comes together,” explains Tor.


Jeff Ames was born in West Germany, but his youth was soundly rooted in the Memphis blues, and to this day he retains a Southern accent. In the mid-90s, while working on a PhD in History, Jeff caught the wine bug. He had a summer job working in wine retail, and he found he not only liked wines, but wanted to know what made them taste different from year-to-year and vineyard-to-vineyard. It was not long before he had tasted a vast number of great international wines, and began working in every aspect of the business: sales (WineBid.co), writing (Decanter), travel (and tasting with Claude Dugat and other greats in Burgundy), finally settling into his first crush in Oregon with vintner Rex Hill. In 2001, Jeff moved to the Napa Valley to work with veteran winemaker Thomas Brown, who became his mentor. Along the way, Jeff has worked as assistant winemaker at Schrader, Maybach, Outpost, and yes, Tor Kenward Family Wines, alongside Thomas. Jeff’s attention to detail, skills, knowledge, and experienced palate made him the ideal choice as head winemaker for TOR Kenward Family Wines in 2003.


“I walked every corner of Napa and Sonoma those three decades, an avid student of what makes a great vineyard. Luckily, I am working today with people whom I consider to be extraordinary growers dedicated to growing the highest quality grapes,” explains Tor. “We farm these special vineyard sites by acre-by-acre — meaning we work together to achieve the best possible grapes regardless of cost.”

Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard
Oakville, Napa Valley
Beresini Vineyard
Carneros, Napa Valley
Cimarossa Vineyard
Howell Mountain, Napa Valley
Durell Vineyard
Sonoma Valley, Sonoma
Hudson Vineyard
Carneros, Napa Valley
Hyde Vineyard
Carneros, Napa Valley
La Herradura Vineyard
St. Helena, Napa Valley
Mast Vineyard
Yountville, Napa Valley
Melanson Vineyard
St. Helena, Napa Valley
Palisades Vineyard
Calistoga, Napa Valley
Tierra Roja Vineyard
Oakville, Napa Valley
Vine Hill Vineyard
Oakville, Napa Valley
Tor Kenward walking the To Kalon vineyard.

2015 wines of the year release schedule


December Schedule

12/10: #10#9, and #8 ranked wines

12/11: #7#6, and #5 ranked wines

12/14: #4 and #3 ranked wines

12/15: #2 ranked wine

12/16: #1 ranked wine

12/18: #11 – #25 ranked wines

12/21: #26 – #50 ranked wines

12/21: 2015 Winemaker of the Year

12/22: #51 – #75 ranked wines

12/23: #76 – #100 ranked wines

January Schedule

1/4: Top Chardonnay’s of the Year

1/7: Top Pinot Noir’s of the Year

1/11: Top Cabernet Sauvignon’s of the Year

1/14: Top Other Domestic Red’s of the Year

1/18: Top International Wines of the Year

1/21: Top Wines of the Year under $60


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