Cabernet Sauvignon Reviews

Vinography, Alder Yarrow, August 6, 2017

Truly fantastic

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

Smith-Madrone, a small producer high on the slopes of Napa's Spring Mountain, where Stu and Charlie Smith craft honest, unpretentious wines with an old-school approach. The perfection of the 2013 vintage (Cabernet Sauvignon) helps take what is usually an excellent wine and push it into outstanding territory. Truly fantastic, if you appreciate Napa Cabernet with poise and restraint, you'll swoon over this elegant bottling. Highly recommended. Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and tobacco and espresso with a touch of green herbs. In the mouth, beautiful cherry and tobacco leaf flavors bounce with excellent acidity. Hints of graphite and leather and mint swirl in the billowy cloud of fine grained tannins. Poised and elegant, this is a wine that will go two or three decades without blinking. Fantastic.

Meg Houston Maker, Makerstable, August 9, 2017

A blaze of red cherry

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

A fruit-scented Cabernet from Spring Mountain, estate-grown at 1,800 feet. It offers aromas of cassis, black cherries, and black raspberries, but also juniper leaf and cedar bark, a crackle of black pepper. The weight is light, with a blaze of red cherry at the mid-palate. There are more black fruit notes here, too: blackberries and their seeds, coffee, cedar-earth, savory black currant. The finish is grippy, vigorously so, but the wine has the acidity, tannic structure, and fruit to carry it forward, and the tea-staining of age will taste good on it.

Grape-Experiences, Cyndy Rynning, August 3, 2017

A wine that should be in everyone's glass

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

Bold, yet light and refreshing, I remarked after a few velvet-like sips that this luscious Cabernet, aged in French oak for 18 months, is one that I could drink anytime, anywhere, with or without food. Consisting of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Merlot, I was mesmerized.  Intense aromas of deep rich black cherries, freshly picked blueberries, vanilla, and a dash of black pepper led to flavors of dark fruit compote, baking spice, wet earth, and savory herbs. Of course, soft tannins and lively acidity provided the foundation to a wine that should be in everyone’s glass.

RockinRed blog, Michelle Williams, July 21, 2017

Elegance and restraint are axioms at Smith-Madrone

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

Medium+ ruby; pronounced aromas of fresh picked violets, fresh picked blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, currants, and plums, dried mint, forest floor, cassis, black pepper, sweet tobacco and spice notes, licorice, minerality, and vanilla; incredibly balanced wine that meets the palate with silkiness of juicy fruit, as it moves across the palate the silkiness morphs into a dusty earth with medium+ acidity and dusty tannins. The influences of the volcanic soil are evident. Elegance and restraint are axioms at Smith-Madrone and this wine is no exception, with its full body and long finish.

International Wine Review, Don Winkler, June 21, 2017

93 points

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon exhibits dense, rustic, lush mountain flavors of black currant and cassis with hints of red berries. A beautifully crafted wine, it reveals firm round tannins and a persistent finish. It is drinking well now but will improve with age and last up to a decade.

Karen MacNeil, Wine Speed, June 23, 2017

93 points

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Over the last few years, I’ve heard lots of wine lovers yearn for the Napa cabernets of the “old days”—wines that were more sleek than plump; wines that were unafraid to show the savory sage side of cabernet; wines that were rich but not saturated. And best of all, wines that sported just a bit of sexy tannic grip, like Clint Eastwood with a 5 o’clock shadow. Well here’s that wine. Stu Smith planted his vineyards on the top of Spring Mountain in 1972 and in many ways, the reclusive mountain man has stayed true to an old fashioned muse. I hope he always does.

Bill Eyer, CuveeCorner, June 20, 2017

94 points: a masterpiece of winemaking and terroir-driven distinction

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

In a few words, this wine is a masterpiece of winemaking and terroir-driven distinction. Solidly a wine you could lay down for the long-term, but immediate enjoyment is within reach, with just a few years in the bottle. You really can't wine much better than this, and their 2013 effort is rock solid great. This wine is one spectacular ride to tasty town; one where you'll be quite sad once the last drop has fallen from the bottle. Even though this bottle I had sampled this wine over a couple of days, [then spit] had been opened the day before, but was never decanted, however, I'd recommend decanting to fully enjoy all this wine's generous charms. Soul and substance in spades. Nothing but silk, lush but not ripe, structured but not rigid, this wine is like a painting, it takes time for it to evolve in the glass. It could still easily go another 10 years if you wanted to lay it down for a few more years. This wine had unbelievable depth and elegance, like so few wines, do. The finish is long and lasting. So yes, in this case, this wine is well worth the price of admission. This wine is highly recommended, my score is 94 points.

SoifKnows, Stephen McConnell, June 16, 2017

Mind-bogglingly good

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

One whiff of this and I knew I was in old-school territory.  Creamy mountain conifer, madrone and eucalyptus. Loamy red soil and mint.  An apple core–browning–and worn gloves in the cab of a truck unfit for town many years ago.  Deep cherry and pomegranate roll off in clouds of tapenade and horse-hair with a clear, steely breeze these mountain appellations pack in so effortlessly.  Fresh and alive, I nailed it at 14-2, the bright brilliance of such numbers complimenting and caressing the rich ripe underpinnings of a wine mind-bogglingly good, palate-stimulating, and effortless to drink at the same time. Spring Mountain–tiny as it is–represents AGAIN… as I have found them to do over and over.

Modern Lifestyles, Andy Chalk, June 16, 2017

Lush flavors

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Intense ruby color with an opaque core. Complex, lively nose of fruit and herbs. Raspberry, blackberry, thyme, black pepper. Lush flavors bathe the mouth and leave a warm, soothing finish. Small wonder that this too-often overlooked winery was The Daily Meal’s Winery of The Year in 2015.

Wine & Spirits Magazine, August 2017, Josh Greene

95 points, a home run

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

95 points: The Smith brothers hit a home run with their 2013, their mountaintop vines producing a cabernet that rises far above the grapey purple fruit and chocolate-oak richness of so many wines of the vintage. Instead, it tastes like freshly picked raspberries, their bright flavor structured by mountain-grown grape-skin tannins. There’s a pear-like shape to the wine, plump and delicious as it fills the mouth with flavor. Here’s a Napa Valley cabernet to make you smile, whether you open it now or any time over the next ten years.

Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Peg Melnik, May 29, 2017

A cab with great structure and finesse

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

This is a cab with great structure and finesse. Notes of black cherry, cassis and herbs. Its bright acid keeps its rich fruit in check. Ripe tannins. Lovely.

Wine Enthusiast, Virginie Boone, July 2017

93 points, Editor's Choice

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

Editors' Choice. From dry-farmed estate vines, this savory, classically styled red is dusty in cedar, dried herb and peppercorn, incredibly inviting and nuanced. It speaks quietly of the forest which surrounds its estate, a complex, balanced landscape of subtle, elegant flavor and intriguing length.

Good Vitis, Aaron Menenberg, April 26, 2017

92 points, very refined

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

The nose is dark and smoky. Hickory smoke, olive brine, dark cherries, dusty cocoa and tangerine peel. With more air the raspberry pops. It’s medium bodied with mouth-coating dusty tannins. The palate is also quite savory and very refined. There are multiple layers to this that years in the cellar will expose. Right now it’s maraschino sauce, dark plums, loam, tarragon, black pepper, mocha, a bit of iodine, and saline.

ArmchairSommelier, Kirsten Georgi, April 22, 2017

91 points

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

Smith-Madrone's wines are made from well-tended, well-loved, dry-farmed vines. The wines are a lean, elegant, and focused expression of cool climate, mountain terroir. They reflect a consistency and keen sense of place . . . and good stewardship. The Cabernet's nose is a glorious menagerie of bramble, cigar, lavender and cloves.  Dry, elegant, and restrained, with flavors of blackberry, black currant, white pepper, graphite, nutmeg.  The tannins are young, but well integrated.

Washington Wine Blog, Owen Bargreen, April 3, 2017

93 points

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

This gorgeous wine begins with aromatics of violets, black cherry, creme de cassis, black olive tapenade and suggestions of baking spices. Tannic and rich, this wine has flavors of coffee grounds, creme de cassis, cigar box, dark chocolate shavings and boysenberry liquor. Dense, tightly wound and intense come to mind when savoring this lovely Cabernet. The mouthfeel is gorgeous, showing beautiful texture and structure. Try to give this lovely wine another year for the fruit to fully amalgamate. Drink 2018-2030.

California Grapevine, April 2017

Highly recommended

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

Medium to medium-dark ruby; forward, spicy, cedary, black cherry and blackberry fruit aroma with herbal notes and hints of cassis, green olive, and bell pepper; full body; moderately rich, textured, cedary, black cherry fruit flavors with herbal notes, and tending to be a bit lean on the finish; full tannin; lingering aftertaste. Approachable now, though will benefit with several more years of bottle aging.

Winethropology, Steve McIntosh, March 30, 2017

Honesty of place shines through

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

High above the valley floor west of St Helena sits the Spring Mountain District, one of Napa Valley's sixteen AVAs.  With steep hillside vineyards reaching altitudes upwards of 1500 feet, this is prime cab country.  And at the very end of Spring Mountain Road is Smith-Madrone. Founded in 1971, Smith-Madrone winery was a pioneer in the practice of dry farming, still a very rare pursuit in California.  That they are able to crank out quality wines - not just cabernet, either - from this location and in this manner is impressive indeed.  Having been up there a couple of times before, a jaunt off the well-trodden route 29 is highly recommended.  Quiet and serene, Spring Mountain feels like the rest of Napa probably did in the seventies. The wines are all made with precision and clarity.  Honesty of place shines through in them all.  Lovely wines.

The Cabernet is very floral upon initial decanting. Inviting.  Tight, concentrated, and without an ounce of flab as a first impression.  Structured and finely spun tannins are center stage. Its formality softens considerably and yields to comforting cedar and vanilla-laced fruit that starts deep and dark, then evolves toward a more bright, vibrant energy. The perfume aspect persists throughout, singing in the company of food. On day two oak emerges in earnest, overshadowing the fruit. Though this wine will go some distance, impatient drinkers won't be disappointed, either.

GrapeCollective, by Dorothy Gaiter, March 23, 2017

Wonderfully complicated

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

Wonderfully complicated and intense aromas of cassis, blueberry and black cherry. The aromatics lead straight into a beautiful demonstration of just how much fun an old-fashioned, low alcohol wine (13.9%) can be. The signature of this wine is the lively and oh-so-flavorful fruit in the middle followed by a crisp juicy finish of unusual length.

Terroirist, Isaac Baker, March 28, 2017

93 points

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

Deep purple color. Gorgeous aromatics of black cherries, dark plums, saucy but fresh, with complex elements of tobacco, graphite, charcoal dust and vanilla. Full-bodied but smooth, structured tannins but fresh acidity, and the texture is wonderful. Black cherries, black currants, juicy plums, the fruit mixes with loamy earth, wet leaves, gravel, charcoal. A significant amount of coffee, wood and vanilla, but there are enough other elements that these flavors don’t overwhelm. Long life ahead but not inaccessible now. All estate fruit from 1,800-foot elevation slope, includes 12% Cab Franc and 6% Merlot, aged 18 months in 75% new French oak. I feel like you can spend twice this price and not get nearly as much Napa Cab awesomeness. (93 points IJB)

BiggerThanYourHead, by Frederic Koeppel, March 10, 2017


2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

Brothers Stuart and Charles Smith don’t fool around. Their Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Spring Mountain District, made from 41-year-old dry-farmed vines 1,800 to 2,000 feet atop Spring Mountain, is built to last. The wine is a blend of 82 percent cabernet sauvignon, 12 percent cabernet franc and 6 percent merlot that aged 18 months in French oak, 75 percent new barrels. The color is dark ruby shading to a magenta rim; you feel the steep mountain pedigree in the wine’s elements of graphite, iodine and iron, walnut shell and dry, austere herbs and heather; black cherries and currants are plumped with cloves, black pepper and mint, while the wine layers briery, underbrush and slightly raspy, leafy notes through the dry, granitic finish. 14.2 percent alcohol. Try from 2018 or ’20 through 2030 to ’35. Excellent. About $50, a bargain considering the present roster.