Cabernet Sauvignon Reviews

Wine Enthusiast, Virginie Boone, June 2017

93 points, Editor's Choice

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

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.

International Wine Report, June 2016

93 points

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

93 points: The 2012 Smith-Madrone Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is an absolutely fantastic showing. This is a classically made Cabernet with striking aromas of black currant and cassis woven together with spices, spring floral, tobacco, dried herbs and dusty minerals which all come together beautifully. On the palate this is full-bodied and remarkably structured and offers the perfect balance between power and elegance. It continues to impress with its gorgeous polished tannins and wonderful texture which carries on through the long, persistent finish. This is simply delicious today, but also shows tremendous aging potential as well.

The Somm Journal, Fred Swan, December 2016-January 2017

Authentic, charming and full of character

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Franc (12%) and Merlot (6%) add complexity to the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. Generous aromas of drying leaves, black currant, cedar and spice leaves are joined by coffee on the medium-bodied palate. Tannins are moderate and fine-grained.

Fred Tasker, Tribune News Service, October 12, 2016

Highly Recommended

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Aromas of cedar and oak, flavors of black cherries and black coffee, full body, hearty, smooth finish.

St. Helena Star, Catherine Bugue, September 28

The wines are full of soul

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

Wind your way up to Smith Madrone on Spring Mountain during harvest, and you’ll have a lot to take in: the forested terrain that frames the vineyard plots, the steep degree of the mountain slopes, the deep red, volcanic-based soils, the fancy glassware in the unpretentious tasting cellar, and salt-of-the-earth looking owners.

Take time to look more closely however, and you will notice things. Things such as small fermentation bins which allow for minute, careful fermentations of individual vineyard plots; a diversity of crushed berry and whole berry fermentations so the winemakers can continue to assess and refine the best techniques for their wines; owners who work the land and make the wines, and have done so for decades, so they can answer endless questions on history, viticulture and winemaking.

But one thing in particular will stay with you long after you’ve left. The wines are not only full of fruit, texture, integrated tannins and balancing acidity, but they have something much more: soul. This cabernet sauvignon’s core of black fruits, subtle spice and dried brush are intertwined with the history of the Smiths, their stories, their trials, their triumphs, and their very special place on Spring Mountain.

WineForNormalPeople, Elizabeth Schneider, September 26, 2016

So well balanced

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

As is common for Spring Mountain Cab – the wine was super dark in color. The aromas are unending – blackberry, blackcurrant with dark flowers, a touch of mint, and savory, sautéed herbs. There’s a distinct mineral note – not soil, but more like natural SPRING water (maybe it’s the power of suggestion?). The wine tastes like black plum, dark raspberry, and strawberry with distinct minerality. The texture is velvety, medium-bodied, and measured — so well balanced! Unlike some Napa Cabs, especially from the mountains, this wine does not have a heavy, hard finish. The tannins are softer making this a Bordeaux-feeling wine with Napa Valley fruit, if that means anything to you!

Drink or sink? DRINK.  This is one of the best vintages I’ve tasted from Smith-Madrone. I loved it.

Food & Spirits Magazine, Mark Gudgel, summer 2016

Some of the best wines I've had in recent memory

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

In a place where Cab of this caliber can easily cost over $100/ bottle, this is a solid QPR. Thanks to the generosity of some wonderful people, I’ve tasted vintages dating as far back as 1995 and can attest that this Cab drinks very well now but is also extremely age-worthy.

Planet Grape, August 27, 2016, Fred Swan

93 points

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Elegant nose of mocha, dry leaves, black currant, boysenberry and mineral. Medium body with enough juiciness and fine, chalky texture for a decade or more of aging, though the wine is very drinkable now. Excellent, berry-focused length. Perhaps one of Napa’s best values in Cabernet.

GrapeExperiences, Cindy Rynning, August 24, 2016

Long rich finish

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

From the Spring Mountain district in Napa Valley, Smith-Madrone has inspired me once again to appreciate and find well-priced wines from this iconic region. Estate grown and bottled, I found aromas of dark, rich blackberries, ripe plums, and cherries, all of which were jam-worthy, and a touch of vanilla. On the palate, notes of more dark berries, chocolate, black pepper, and herbs were woven with structured tannins, bright acidity, and a long, rich finish. Decant and fire up the grill…this find will be just what you need with that barbecue.

The Corkscrewer Report, September 2015

92 points

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon

A knockout value from an independent and under-the-radar winery even though they have been around since the early 1970s and have enjoyed widespread critical praise. Masculine but quietly so, with lengthy and lithe flavors of blackberry, blueberry, mocha and cigar box. This is an athlete dressed in a classy dark suit. A great way to experience the unique pleasures of a Napa mountain Cabernet without breaking the bank.

NapaFoodandVine, August 16, 2016


2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

It has a nose of oak and summer berries. There are very soft tannins which are pleasant on the palate with a flavor of forest floor, cloves, and those summer berries. Delicious. I thought it was priced very reasonably for the quality and the character of the wine.

Tasting Panel Magazine, August 2016

93 points

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Grilled meat and dark chocolate soil are the richness that sweeps you into its coffee bean and chocolate licorice middle. Statured, with grainy tannins on tiptoes, as rhubarb, ash and blue fruit keep it polished and strong all the way.