Cabernet Sauvignon Reviews

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

From dry-farmed estate vines, this savory, classically styled red offers nuances of cedar, dried herb and peppercorn, incredibly inviting and nuanced. It’s aromatically reminiscent of the forest that surrounds the estate, delivering a balanced landscape of subtle, elegant flavor and 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.