Cabernet Sauvignon Reviews

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.

Susan Spinello, LiveLeft, July 12, 2016

Terroir-driven, meaty Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

A hidden gem and the perfect wine for your barbecue.  Open up and decant while you wait for your medium rare ribeye or peppercorn crusted lamb to grill.  Rich red and black fruit with notes of savory clove and smoky cigar box.  Mocha, black pepper and green olives show on this terroir-driven, meaty Cabernet Sauvignon, yet like all the Smith-Madrone wines tasted, it is well balanced with a lingering finish.

Nancy & Peter Brazil, PullThatCork, July 18, 2016

Ample blackberry, long lasting finish

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Exhibits ample blackberry and plum flavors with interesting herbaceous backnotes and damp earth. The finish is juicy and very long lasting. I love this wine. I look forward to tasting this wine over time as it evolves in the bottle.

BiggerThanYourHead, June 30, 2016, Fred Koeppel

Charles and Stuart deserve a Nobel Prize for consistency and integrity

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Brothers Charles and Stuart Smith deserve a Nobel Prize for consistency and integrity. Making their Smith-Madrone wines using the same methods every year and allowing the vintage to speak through the grapes, they produce chardonnay, riesling and cabernet sauvignon wines on Spring Mountain that embody ideals of realism, individuality and location. The color is dark ruby from stem to stern; notes of dried sage and rosemary, briers and brambles, cedar and tobacco leaf are etched on intense elements of ripe and dried black currants, raspberries and blueberries, all balanced on a well-oiled vehicle of graphite and granitic minerality. On the palate, the wine is — no surprise — lithe and sinewy, bolstered by dusty, slightly velvety tannins and vibrant acidity. The finish is long and lean and laden with chiseled flint-like minerality. Excellent.

Food and Wine Magazine blog, by Carson Demmond, June 21, 2016

A great example of how Napa expresses terroir

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Here, you have unmistakably Californian fruit, but the winemaking style is so restrained that it's a great example of how Napa expresses terroir. They’re located in Spring Mountain, so it’s a structured, tannic wine, but if you throw it into a decanter before throwing some sort of steak or rich meat on the grill, it opens up so nicely. It’s savory and a little smoky, and it strikes that balance of red and black fruits, with just a hint of rusticity. It’s such a good wine.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine, July 2016

93 points

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Grown on the producer’s 1,800-foot-high, dry-farmed property west of St. Helena from 40-yearold vines, this is a great wine, structured and elegantly designed to highlight cassis, clove and cigar. Thick, heady tannins soften in the glass, allowing room for enviable structure and a black pepper-dotted finish.

Gargantuan Wine, by Jonathan Lipsmeyer, May 24, 2016

A wine that wears its 14.3 ABV nobly and beckons you to keep drinking

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon

A wine that wears its 14.3% ABV nobly, and beckons you to keep drinking until there’s none left. The 2011 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon had an inviting, pungent bell pepper aroma on the nose, and a proper texture — a bit young and spiky, clearly able to age, and not so suave that it feels like the vinous equivalent of some guy in a tacky suit with gelled hair (and loud cologne). The youthful grip leads to a sweet plum midpalate that later finishes with flecks of white peach and licorice. A very nice wine; and I really wish I could have aged it much longer. The nose really reminds me of a 2000 Figeac tasted 5 years ago, but without the suave texture that followed on the palate, which naturally accompanied that wine’s longer time aging in the cellar.e areas that can support it, particularly along the Oakville Rutherford Bench. In the mountains up here at Stony Hill, we have redwoods, Douglas fir and huge oak trees, which is an indication that we have a soil that can support dry farmed grapes.... if you’re typically a drinker of Old World wines who won’t touch Napa Valley with a ten foot pole — or someone who pines for old California Cabernet — the dry farmed wines of Spring Mountain will dazzle you.

Creators Syndicate, Robert Whitley, March 8, 2016

95 points, a gorgeous wine

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

95 points: Even at this price, Smith-Madrone cabernet remains one of the Napa Valley's greatest values. The 2012 is a gorgeous wine that shows ripe aromas of cassis and blackberry, with firm tannins and exceptional depth and length. Drink now or in 20 years — or anytime in between.