Cabernet Sauvignon Reviews

RockinRed blog, Michelle Williams, July 4, 2018

Juxtaposition of finesse and power

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

Crafted of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 7% Merlot from dry-farmed grapes grown in Spring Mountain District estate vineyards; this beautiful ruby wine opens with aromas of fresh black fruit, dried violets, cassis, black pepper, forest floor, sweet tobacco and spice notes, licorice, minerality, and vanilla; incredibly balanced wine that meets the palate in a juxtaposition of finesse and power infused by the volcanic soil and guided the gentle hand of Stu Smith; tannins are high yet silky, acidity is balanced and mouth-watering, with a long and lean finish; another wonderful wine of great value by Smith-Madrone. 


https://rockinredblog.com/2018/07/04/celebrate-the-4th-of-july-with-napa-valley-cabernet-sauvignon/#more-8958

Vinepair, Edward Deitch, June 28, 2018

All about consistency

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

These days, California’s Napa Valley is filled with celebrities, corporate big shots, and other one percenters who have caught the wine bug and bought their way into the region and the wine business.

So it’s refreshing to think about two bearded brothers who have been at it for almost half a century, high up on a mountain in their rustic corner of the Valley, with little ostentation or self-promotion.

The brothers are Stuart and Charles Smith, who have been growing grapes and producing distinctive estate wines at their Smith-Madrone Winery on the top of Napa’s Spring Mountain since 1971. This is not the Napa Valley overrun by the wine-soaked masses. (Tours are by appointment only.)

Smith-Madrone has been all about consistency, producing the same excellent wines — primarily a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Chardonnay, and a Riesling — year in and year out.

My recent tasting of the 2014 Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon confirms it. This is classic, terroir-defined Cabernet with a signature that says Smith-Madrone (the latter part of the name refers to a type of evergreen tree on the property).

The grapes are grown in steep, mountainside vineyards in largely volcanic soils. The vineyards are mostly dry-farmed (no irrigation is used), not only to conserve precious California water, but to produce more complexity in the wines, which results from the vines having to dig deeper for their nourishment.

That complexity is a hallmark of the 2014 Cabernet, a $52 wine with aromas of violets, red fruits, and graphite, followed by concentrated dark and red fruit tastes and a hint of eucalyptus. The oak is well integrated, the tannic structure is refined, and the ample acidity gives the wine an overall brightness. A slightly green note, not uncommon in young Cabernet, gives way as it opens up. The blend is 85 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 8 percent Cabernet Franc, and 7 percent Merlot.

With alcohol listed at 13.9 percent, it’s also a refreshing counterpoint to the still-prevalent model of Big California Cab. It’s enjoyable young and will be worth exploring 10, even 20 years from now.

 


https://vinepair.com/good-wine-reviews/smith-madrone-cabernet-sauvignon-2014-napa-valley-spring-mountain-district/

Briscoe Bites, Stacy Briscoe, June 24, 2018

Yum

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

I’ve been dying to taste Smith-Madrone wines since I don’t know how long. I’ve only heard fantastic things about the estate and their wines. And after interviewing Stu Smith, founder, manager, and enologist for Smith-Madrone Winery, for a recent article, I was even more eager and curious what this downright passionate proprietor is creating with these lovingly tended-for vineyards. So what better way to start than with the varietal Napa is known for?

Flavor Profile: Pop the cork and breathe in immediate aromas of dried fruits, forest floor, and a bit of mocha. This Cabernet Sauvignon presents a dark purple-black on the pour, settling into the glass more purple-rouge, nearly impenetrable at its core, and with a tint of orange-brown at the outermost perimeter. Initial aromas are of leather, dried black cherry, unsweetened cacao, and bourbon barrel. Swirl and the wine releases scents of dried rose petals, a hint of chocolate, and a solid acidic line. The palate is full, presenting a solid acidity, and tannins that maintain a friendly presence. There’s just a slight amplification of the acid as the tasting progresses, which in turn showcases the fruit. Likewise, the tannins slightly increase towards the finish, paying homage to those floral notes. Dominant flavors are of oak barrel woodiness, black cherry, tart plum, decadent but dark chocolate, earth, a bit of bacon, and a hint of Brazil nut complete with its skins. 

Food Pairing: I paired the Smith-Madrone 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon with a veal roulade: thinly sliced veal rolled with goats cheese, spinach, and cranberries, and encased in prosciutto. First of all, yum. Second of all, perfect pairing. As the evening progressed, the wine opened up beautifully, making way for a rounder texture. The salty prosciutto also gave the wine a more supple mouthfeel and played up the fruit and acidity. 


http://briscoebites.com/smith-madrone-cabernet-sauvignon/#more-68276

Decanter Magazine, June 2018, Anne Krebiehl

Elegance of mountain fruit

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

94 points: The elegance of mountain fruit shows through here, with ripe plum coated with smoky notes of thyme. The palate has very fine, drying but pleasantly crunchy tannins with lovely grip, and there's a sexy, smoky tint of single-malt whiskey around the edges. Lovely, crisp Cabernet structure. Drinking Window 2020 - 2035


https://smithmadrone.wordpress.com/2018/06/12/94-points-from-decanter-for-2013-cabernet/

American Wine Society Journal, summer 2018, Ellen Landis

A gem that shows off the terroir

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

Here is an intensely built Cabernet Sauvignon blended with 8% Cabernet Franc and 7% Merlot. This gem shows off the terroir of this long growing season region in spades. Deep fruit on the nose segues to plum, black raspberry, black currant, licorice, herbs, spiced oak and earth coating the palate. Tightly wound with a firm backbone of tannins. Decant if you pop the cork now, or wait patiently, there are rewards to gain by cellaring.



Slow Wine Guide, January 2018

Great wine

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

The Smith-Madrone line-up, and especially the Cabernet Sauvignon, leave no doubt that they have been crafted from old-vine, mountain grown fruit. The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is a big, brooding wine with concentrated black and blue fruits framed by iron-shaving tannins and subtle oak spice (and, it should be noted, this powerful red easily outperforms Cabernets twice and three times its price).



VinePair, Courtney Schiessl, February 2018

Great Balance

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

A fresh green edge characterizes this balanced mountain Napa Cab. Perfect for Dinner With The Parents, Steak Dinner. Cabernet Sauvignon’s green character certainly comes through on this mountain Napa wine, likely amped up by the small proportion of Cabernet Franc blended in. Ripe, dusty black cherry fruit transitions into brambly berries on the grassy palate, the fine, grippy tannins providing great balance.


https://vinepair.com/review/review-smith-madrone-cabernet-sauvignon-2014/

StrongCoffeeToRedWine, Rick Dean, April 11, 2018

Rocking my world

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

The Smith-Madrone 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is the perfect balance of Old World and New World styles. It is soft and finessed. It is earth and fruit. And oh, it makes me smile from ear to ear while I look for a place to hide the bottle, so I do not have to share. Drats foiled again, Gary knows my hiding place. The color is dark and purple with subtle purple-ruby edges. The aromas at the top* bring out cedar and a hint of wet terra cotta. At the bottom*, I find stewed prunes and raisins, and other black fruits mixed with a woodsy earthiness.  My drinking partner finds similar yet different aromas calling out dusty, dry cherries and dense mossy forest. We are both intrigued by the smells/aromas that seem to complement each other rather than fight for top billing. From the first sip to the last there is roundness and balance. To me, black fruit permeates with a light kiss of acid right from the start. The tannins are soft and approachable.  As the wine finishes you get a second burst of acidity that cleanses your palate in anticipation of your next sip. Which I did… over and over and over again. This wine is rocking my world. For my partner, he is struck by the harmony between the dark fruits and the earth. Geez, we are both loving this wine. My sister pops in the house while we are sipping, so I hand her my glass.  All she can say is, “WOW!, damn that is good.” One final comment: I was prepared to like this wine but did not expect to want to search it out locally.  I was so incredibly wrong. This is a fantastic wine.


http://strongcoffeetoredwine.com/smith-madrone-2014-cabernet-sauvignon/

Nittany Epicurean, Michael Chelus, April 6, 2018

Delicious

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

Earlier this week, my ongoing series of discovery of some of the great wines of California brought us wines from some of my favorite wineries in the state.Today, the series will stay in Napa for another delicious cabernet from a winery for which I've developed quite an affinity. This wine is mostly cabernet sauvignon (85%) blended with small amounts of cabernet franc (8%) and merlot (7%). The fruit - all estate grown - hails from Napa's Spring Mountain District. Following fermentation, the wine was aged for 18 months in French oak barrels (70% new). It comes in at 13.9% ABV. The wine showed a dark ruby color. Blackberry, raspberry, vanilla and oak on a nose that showed initial restraint. Cherry cola, raspberry, blackberry, vanilla, plum, licorice, oak and hints of eucalyptus followed on a palate much more developed than the nose. The wine exhibited good structure and length, along with soft tannins. This wine would pair classically with a dry-aged prime rib.


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https://nittanyepicurean.blogspot.com/2018/04/2014-smith-madrone-cabernet-sauvignon.html

Wine Enthusiast, Virginie Boone, May 2018

Restrained take on mountain-grown fruit

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

91 points CELLAR SELECTION: This is a concentrated wine made with 8% Cabernet Franc and 7% Merlot within the blend, a restrained take on mountain-grown fruit and tannin. Cassis, red currant and cedar persist within a framework of tart acidity and balanced oak, the structure suggestive of further aging. Enjoy best 2024 through 2034.


https://www.winemag.com/buying-guide/smith-madrone-2014-cabernet-sauvignon-spring-mountain-district/

International Wine Review, Michael Potashnik and Don Winkler, March 20, 2018

Nicely integrated and complex

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

Nicely integrated and complex with a melange of red and black fruit with noteworthy boysenberry, plum,  savory herbs and notes of underbrush and chocolate.  It is nicely concentrated, round on the palate with firm tannins and a long finish.


https://i-winereview.com/blog/index.php/2018/03/16/smith-madrone-superb-new-releases-from-napa-valley/

Vineration, Brian Seeling, March 16, 2018

Exceptionally integrated oak

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

It's a steal, with aromas of pipe tobacco, unripe black plum, blackberry, and exceptionally integrated oak. When you sip it, a rush of juiciness washes over your palate and the silky texture falls effortlessly down the hatch. The medium strength tannins cling to the insides of your cheeks to extend the long dark cocoa finish. 


http://www.vineration.com/california/smith-madrone

The Intox Report, Chris Kassel, March 7, 2018

Clarity and precision

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

Altitude plays a role in producing wines of potency and nuance, but without a proper foundation, it’s all for naught.  The reddish Aiken soil that predominates throughout Smith-Madrone vineyards is derived from nearby Sonoma Volcanics, and tends to be gravelly, leading to even more radical drainage than elevation alone would account for.  In the Spring Mountain AVA soil depths vary, but tend to be deeper than in nearby mountain terrains, and as a result, so do their red wines. Notable is the Cabernet Sauvignon, which is almost inky black in color (high elevation reds seem to tan in the direct UV rays like people) and has a bracing dose of acid that preserves the elusive quality of freshness in extraordinarily rich wines.  The wine displays the pedigree of middle-aged vines; these are in their early forties. It’s juicy with dark, saturated berry flavors—fruit crushed for jam, but not yet stewed.  It’s accented by coffee, spicy plum and crushed peppercorn and shows clarity and precision. I always welcome an opportunity to circle back to see what the brothers-on-high are up to at Smith-Madrone.  Smith is the most common name in the United States, so it’s gratifying to note that these two are making some of the most unusual wines.


https://intoxreport.com/2018/03/07/the-madrone-ranger-rides-again/

Winethropology, Steve McIntosh, March 7, 2018

Instant infatuation

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

Oh, lord, the luxurious aromatics coming off this alone are enough to incite instant infatuation. Deep, beckoning black fruit invites more sniffing for those with the patience to not just dive in. The attack, however, sits juxtaposed with its blue-green fruit/vegetable profile and a restraint that is in contrast to the nose. Prominent acidity, combined with its old school cabernet fruit elements suggest longevity. Even after seven hours decanted, drinking this feels like infanticide. Would love to revisit this one in a decade. And then again in another.


HTTP://WWW.WINETHROPOLOGY.COM/2018/03/SMITH-MADRONE-KING-AND-QUEEN.HTML

Decanter Magazine, April 2018, Alex Hunt

94 points

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

94 points: Green notes are a key part of Cabernet’s aroma, yet often suppressed in California. How refreshing, then, to find them lifting the juicy fruit of this wine to another level of complexity. Drink 2020-2030.


https://wordpress.com/post/smithmadrone.wordpress.com/2609

Decanter Magazine, April 2018

Highly Recommended

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

Highly Recommended: A grassy, leafy expression of Cabernet on the nose with smoky hints. Very attractive, with beautiful poise on the savoury palate, while the firm structure suits the fresher register of the aromas.

One of six wines which came out on top, from field of 174 wines.


https://wordpress.com/post/smithmadrone.wordpress.com/2609

BiggerThanYourHead, Frederic Koeppel, March 3, 2018

Elegant and excellent

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

Excellent. Dark ruby-magenta hue; smoke, loam, old leather; red currants and raspberries, touch of dark plum; real heft and traction on the palate, powerful forward energy propelled by bright acidity; huge depth of graphite minerality with layers of underbrush and spare woodsy floral and herbal elements; monumental tannins softened by their paradoxically elegant texture; the intensity and concentration continue through the boldly mineral-laced finish. Wonderful purity and integrity. Try 2019 or ’20 through 2028 to ’30. 


http://biggerthanyourhead.net/2018/03/04/weekend-wine-notes-a-range-of-cabernets/

Grape-experiences, Cindy Rynning, February 28, 2018

 A splendid wine

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

Whenever I open a box that contains wines from Smith-Madrone, I’m always thrilled. Why? I’m assured that each wine is crafted with care, is always consistent with regards to quality, and is guaranteed to please even the most discerning palate. Anyone who loves wine will treasure each sip of a delectable choice from one of my favorite wineries.

The 2014 vintage year produced an extraordinary amount of quality grapes. Although the 2013-2014 winter broke records for being the driest in California, grapes cultivated were smaller and boasted high concentration of flavors. This Cabernet is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 7% Merlot that spent 18 months in French oak before bottling. Wafting from the glass were intense aromas of rich red cherries, tobacco, smoke, juicy plums, blackberries, and subtle notes of earth. Bright acidity and satin-like tannins enveloped textured, complex notes of spice and dark fruit on the palate. Elegant and supple, this is a splendid wine that can be aged for twenty-five years…if you’re willing.


http://www.grape-experiences.com/2018/02/elegant-powerful-smith-madrone-winery/

StayRad blog, Jeff Solomon, February 22, 2018

Great!

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

StayRad offers a video tasting of the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. 

 


https://stayradwineblog.com/2018/02/25/stay-rad-wine-blog-tv-episode-183-all-alone-with-smith-madrone/

The Armchair Sommelier, Kirsten Georgi, February 22, 2018

Dense and elegant knock-out

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 7% Merlot.  Aged for 18 months in 70% new French oak and 30% one-year old French oak.  If you recall, 2014 was the year of the Napa earthquake.  It was also a drought year for Napa, and according to Smith-Madrone, rainfall totals on Spring Mountain were about half what they usually are.  What does that mean for the grapes?  Well, it means the grapes were stressed out.  And stressed out vines can make great wines.  It also means that grapes were smaller, which produced a more concentrated juice.

A gorgeous, deep ruby color.  Cedar, blackberry, black currant, garden mint, and a big pile of crushed mountain rocks.  The power in this wine comes from its structure.  Despite its youth, this is beautifully balanced with beautifully integrated tannins.  A dense and elegant knock-out.  No doubt this will develop beautifully in the bottle.  


https://armchairsommelier.com/2018/02/22/dont-sweat-the-vintage-celebrate-it-a-smith-madrone-tangent/