Forbes, Michelle Williams, February 5, 2019

Words lack in describing this beautiful wine

2012 Cook's Flat

Seductive—dark fruit, highly herbaceous, baking spice, graphite, dark chocolate, and cedar; tension between power and restraint, balanced and layered with beautiful structure; words lack in describing this beautiful wine. Limited production, purchase direct from winery.

Fred Swan, August 11, 2018

Layered and profound

2012 Cook's Flat

This special, single-vineyard wine is a current release, having been given extra aging in both barrel and bottle. It’s a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc and 17% Merlot from vines planted in 1972 in a historic, eight-acre plot. Only 112 cases were made.

The Smith-Madrone Cook’s Flat Reserve is layered and profound with classic Bordeaux-blend hallmarks. The expressive nose offers black currant, iron, graphite, dried bay leaf, mint and aged wood. The palate is medium-plus in body building to full with air. A plethora of plush, fine-grained tannins provide structure and carry flavors though the very extended finish.

While the nose is predominantly savory, the palate is fruit-driven with rich black currant wrapped in dark chocolate and accented by cedar. With air, the palate becomes increasingly savory, emphasizing mineral and bay leaf characters. The wine’s ready to drink now, but will age and gain further complexity at least another 20 years.

GoodVitis, Aaron Menenberg, December 15, 2017

95 points: velvety lushness and more

2012 Cook's Flat

...Here are my twelve most memorable wines from the past twelve months.

#2: 2012 Smith-Madrone Cook’s Flat Reserve. Stu Smith and his family are some of my favorite people in the wine industry, and among the most generous I’ve met. He’s also one of the best winemakers in a state known for attracting many of the best winemakers in the world. Cooks’ Flat is his reserve wine, which he makes during good vintages. It retails for $225. Given the region, that’s a steal for a wine of this quality and, in one of many manifestations, evidence of his generosity. I’m not a lover of most California wine, and I don’t get the California Cult Cab thing with its focus on fruit and tannin. Stu could care less whether his wines were considered “cult,” but it certainly tops the list of cabernets from the Sunshine State that I’ve had. The fact that any California cab made my most memorable wine list is personally surprising, but that it landed at #2? It’s just that good.

Tasting note: December 7, 2017 – This seems to me to be what Napa cab should be all about. It hits the palate with a velvety lushness, and is followed by waves of red, blue and black fruit that polish a core of dark minerals and Earth that broadens the mid palate and adds depth to the wine. The acid is towards the higher end of the Napa range, adding juiciness to the fruit and levity to the body. Unlike many California cabs, the tannins are well-kept and aren’t allowed to dry the palate and prematurely kill the finish. This is elegant and refined wine. Given the price of reserve wines from Napa, the Cook’s Flat is a downright steel. 95 points.

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


2009 Cook's Flat

Stellar, loaded with ripe, juicy black currant and cherry, plus cocoa and dark mineral. It's nearly full-bodied with fine, chalky tannins.

Fred Swan,, November 23, 2016

A true pioneer of Spring Mountain District wines and is still going strong

2009 Cook's Flat

A powerhouse of black currant and chocolate which drinks very well now but will age for 15+ years.

Food & Spirits Magazine, Mark Gudgel, summer 2016

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

2009 Cook's Flat

Charles probably put it best: “We make this wine because it makes us really happy.” It made me really happy, too. A blend of 64% Cab Sauvignon, 22% Cab Franc, and 14% Merlot, this wine gets the best of everything during the winemaking process, and you’re sure to love it the next time you’re splurging.

NapaFoodandVine, August 16, 2016

One of those special bottles

2009 Cook's Flat

The 2009 Cooks Flat Reserve is one of those special bottles of wine you don’t drink every day. Priced at $200, per bottle this beauty is really what you would hope for in a mature Cab. Rich berries on the nose and palate, baking spices, weighty and rich in the mouth. We both loved this wine. It will continue to age beautifully for at least 10 years if not more. I would love the opportunity to taste it then. I think that this is one of my favorite quality Cabs I have experienced. It is a wine to be savored and experienced rather than simply consumed.

Susan Spinello, Live Left, July 12, 2016

Drinking fabulously right now

2010 Cook's Flat

Highly allocated 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Cabernet Franc reserve wine that displays generous dark fruit, cassis and tobacco leaf. It has solid tannins and is exceptionally poised to lay down for another 10 plus years. But this wine is drinking fabulously right now.

There is something unique about the lay of the land and the spacing of the vines, something that is sought after, but can only be achieved by authentic farmers and longevity in the business. Smith-Madrone captures that and more, as evidenced by their superior wines and highly sought after Cook's Flat Reserve. Charlie revved up his 4 wheeler high-speed golf cart and took us around the property with Curly close behind...for a while. There is a unique 8 acre block of vines known as Cook's Flat (named after George Cook, the first owner of the property) where a small production of the best of the best mountain fruit is grown. Cook's Flat was replanted in 1972 and the result is a very special Cabernet Reserve that will only be crafted in small batches and only in the best years. Each Cook's Flat Reserve bottle is wrapped in tissue which has been printed with a copy of the U.S. Land Office Patent granted to George Cook and signed by President Chester Arthur in 1885. The original is on display at the winery.

Susan Spinello, LiveLeft, July 12, 2016

Pure gold

2009 Cook's Flat

Pure gold. 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Cabernet Franc and 14% Merlot, it sees 18 months in new French white oak, and is layer upon layer of dark fruit, black cherry, blackberry, cocoa, espresso and baking spice. It's more fruit-forward, but exceptionally integrated, and can lay down another 20 years, but I'm not going to chance it.

There is something unique about the lay of the land and the spacing of the vines, something that is sought after, but can only be achieved by authentic farmers and longevity in the business. Smith-Madrone captures that and more, as evidenced by their superior wines and highly sought after Cook's Flat Reserve. Charlie revved up his 4 wheeler high-speed golf cart and took us around the property with Curly close behind...for a while. There is a unique 8 acre block of vines known as Cook's Flat (named after George Cook, the first owner of the property) where a small production of the best of the best mountain fruit is grown. Cook's Flat was replanted in 1972 and the result is a very special Cabernet Reserve that will only be crafted in small batches and only in the best years. Each Cook's Flat Reserve bottle is wrapped in tissue which has been printed with a copy of the U.S. Land Office Patent granted to George Cook and signed by President Chester Arthur in 1885. The original is on display at the winery.

PullThatCork, Nancy and Peter Brazil, July 18, 2016

Elegant, complex

2009 Cook's Flat

An elegant, complex and evolved wine that is still bright and youthful. Complex dark fruit and cedar aromas are followed with dark plum and red fruit flavors. Hints of cedar and pencil shavings add complexity. Tannins are silky smooth and the finish is very long. Delicious.

The Daily Meal, Gabe Sasso, November 16, 2015

One of ten best Cabernets in America

2009 Cook's Flat

Quite simply one of the very best wineries in the world. Everything they do is top shelf. A few years ago they released the first vintage of this reserve wine, the first in their history. No surprise, brothers Stu and Charlie Smith hit it out of the park, but that’s what they’ve been doing for over 40 years. While it’s labeled as a proprietary blend, it’s composed of 75 percent cabernet sauvignon and the rest is cabernet franc, so legally it’s a cabernet sauvignon. Bits of toast and dark fruit dot the expressive nose. Blackberry, cherry, and more fill the palate, which shows off a bit more fruit-forward than their other red. The flavors here are layered and complex. Dark dusty cocoa, continued cherry, and a hint of espresso are all present on the finish. Cooks Flat Reserve is going to age well for at least 20 years, but if you’re impatient, pair with a standing rib roast this Christmas for a glorious experience.

Napa Valley Then & Now by Kelli A. White

A very lovely bottle of wine

2007 Cook's Flat

66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc. Somewhat reticent aromas of pine, black cherry, black olive, sarsaparilla and graphite form the nose. The palate is rich and deep with great concentration and heft. A fine acidity weaves through the fruit, adding energy. A very lovely bottle of wine.

Napa Valley Then & Now by Kelli A. White


2010 Cook's Flat

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc. Though more modern than is typical for Smith-Madrone, this is a very successful wine that has preserved the signature poise and balance of the house. The nose offers rich cassis, tobacco leaf, wet slate, charcoal and a kiss of oak. Muscular and fairly broad-shouldered, with concentrated dark fruit, polished (though abundant) tannins, and a firm acidity. Great.

Vino Con Vista blog, February 18, 2014, EveAnn Lovero


2007 Cook's Flat

Check out the Smith-Madrone Winery on Spring Mountain Road. Stuart and Charles Smith conduct the tours and the tastings. They have been in business for 43 years. Try the outstanding 2010 Cook's Flat Reserve from the Spring Mountain appellation where all the wines are estate grown and estate bottled.

Sacramento Bee, March 25, 2014, Mike Dunne

Striking cherry fruit

2010 Cook's Flat

….the austere yet sunny Smith-Madrone 2010 Cook’s Flat Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon….I voted for gold for its striking cherry fruit and thread of minerality…

Bach to Bacchus blog, January 2013, T. J. Jones

Superb, big but balanced

2007 Cook's Flat

What I love about Smith-Madrone Winery is that they are totally genuine, the real thing, if you will. Honest, no pretensions, devoted to truth in a down to earth way that is not just admirable but inspiring. They also happen to make great wines, very unique with their own terroir, extremely well priced, etc. Their wines compare to the best in the world and the owners seem like some of the finest people in the world. I think of Smith-Madrone as a triumph of the human spirit. Meeting people like this and tasting wine like this are part of what makes life worthwhile. Inspiring is an understatement.

Smith-Madrone now has a Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Smith-Madrone is one of the older wineries in Napa Valley, but they have never released a reserve before. Never mind that their regular releases blow away many reserves from other wineries. The Smith Brothers have integrity that is amazing. After careful investigation and years of research, they finally came up with the best block of their vineyard, combined with the ideal year and the utmost in vineyard management, harvesting and winemaking. It’s superb, big but balanced, with some very interesting Cabernet Franc adding its signature. Although it has great fruit, it is definitely terroir driven; unique, complex and interesting; it could not have been made anywhere else than on Spring Mountain at Smith-Madrone Winery. The Smith-Madrone 2007 Cook's Flat Reserve is an incredible wine!

Fermentation Wine Blog, December 7, 2012, Tom Wark

The guys got it right

2007 Cook's Flat

Here’s something relatively rare in the wine business: An established Napa Valley winery that has never affixed the term “Reserve” to a wine….So, I was very curious when I heard that after 41 years of making wine up on Spring Mountain in Napa Valley Smith-Madrone has only now gotten around to releasing a wine they designate as “Reserve.” Here’s the thing about this undefined, ambiguous designation: The term “Reserve” CAN have real meaning that ought to give wine lovers pause. In my view, the guys at Smith-Madrone got it right. It strikes me that a “Reserve” wine must, above all, be made in small quantities relative to similar wines in a producer’s portfolio and must be made in small quantities because there is no other alternative. That’s clearly what’s going on at Smith-Madrone. Furthermore, what’s really compelling about the new Smith-Madrone Cook’s Flat Reserve is the promise that it will be made only when the quality warrants it. You hear this occasionally, but you rarely see it. Given the 41 years it took Smith-Madrone to put “Reserve” on a bottle, I have justified confidence that they’ll truly reserve the Reserve for vintages that warrant the designation.

Snooth, March 7, 2013 by Gregory Dal Piaz

93 points: a pretty, powerful wine

2007 Cook's Flat

Smith-Madrone is one of my Napa Valley heroes….Their wines each represent exceptional value in an classic, age-worthy style. These are wines that every wine lover should try. They are as distinctive as Stu and Charlie, reflecting the kind of freedom of thought that heralded the golden age of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, showing us that it’s not over yet!

2007 Cook’s Flat Reserve: 93 points: Fruity and quite intense on the nose, with big black fruit that is deep and ripe topped with herb and carob aromas. This feels a bit like Bordeaux in the mouth, ripe yet perfectly clear, with great cut and layers of wild cherry, plum, and blackberry fruits. There are firm tannins, but this is so well balanced they are certainly unobtrusive. There’s a lovely lifted hint of mint on the back end that contrasts with the very fine edge of dry extract, adding richness to the vibrant finish. A pretty powerful wine that has great energy in the mouth. 

Hawk Waka Waka Wine Reviews, June 20, 2013, Elaine Brown

offering the dignity and graceful presence deserving of "Reserve"

2007 Cook's Flat

After 41 years of winemaking, to inaugurate the anniversary of the original Cook’s purchase, and the repeal of Prohibition, the Smith brothers released their first Reserve wine on December 5, 2012. We’re drinking the first Cook’s Flat Reserve vintage, the 2007. Short of knowing it took 41 years before they launched the Cook’s Flat Reserve, the wine itself would answer the question of why make a reserve wine–offering the dignity and graceful presence genuinely deserving of the title.

Vinography, August 4, 2013, Alder Yarrow

Smooth, seamless, very well-balanced

2007 Cook's Flat

Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of espresso, cherry, and dark bitter chocolate with hints of dried herbs. In the mouth very plush tannins wrap around a core of cherry cola and tobacco flavors that are juicy with excellent acidity. Smooth, seamless and very well balanced, this wine is tasty now but will be exceptional in 10 years.

David Rosengarten blog, March 5, 2013

Knocked me out with its balance and particulary its Bordeaux-ness

2007 Cook's Flat

About a week ago, I attended the annual Wine Writers' Symposium…lots of things rocked my world during this most enjoyable visit. One of the great dinner events of the Napa week was an event at Press, the upscale steakhouse…Best of all, however, was a bottle of Cab from a winery I thought I'd understood… Smith-Madrone…also on Spring Mountain. The 2007 Cook's Flat Reserve on my table—next to a sea of bottles from bigger-name wineries—knocked me out with its balance, and, particularly, its Bordeaux-ness. This 2007, for me, had the perfect reminder of Cabernet's true nature.

Le Sommelier Fou by David Pelletier, blog, September 2013

Superb tears on the glass

2007 Cook's Flat

Deep garnet color, superb tears on the glass. Aromas of cracked pepper, blackberry and old wood, with a bit of currant. Good acidity, with somewhat firm tannins. Flavors of old wood, violet, blackberry, raspberry, black cherry and graphite. Long, dried raisin finale. Could lie down for one more year (or two), and be enjoyed in the following eight.

WineWiseWeb by Rich Cook, September 17, 2013

98 points

2007 Cook's Flat

Oooo... BIG score... You may have heard me wax poetic about the wines of Stuart and Charles Smith in the past — the late released Cabernet Sauvignon, the Chardonnay and the Riesling — always near the top of my list of Napa Valley producers, and always value priced for the region. Even at this price, this is a value wine, as it rings up for about one-third of the going rate for classified growth Bordeaux of comparable quality. One whiff of the first reserve wine in their 40+ year history, makes it evident why they chose this particular wine to start this new chapter. Often, the Smith-Madrone Cabernets take a while to come around, even as they are one of the latest releases in Napa. This wine is remarkably approachable after a short decant, and develops amazingly in the glass. Blackberry, currants, black cherry, dried herbs, judicious oak spice tones and perfect balance of acid and fine grained tannins are knit together in an elegant package that is sure to live a very long life. If you long for the days of extremely complex and age-worthy Napa reds, this is a wine for your trophy collection. 

Upstatedowntown blog by Christopher Matthews, March 10, 2014

Layered fruit and earth should develop beautifully

2007 Cook's Flat

Bacchus amat colles— Bacchus loves the hills. This piece of wisdom comes from antiquity, when the ancient Greeks, then Romans, figured out that hillside vineyards, despite greater degrees of difficulty (challenging topography, labor intensity, erosion, etc.), often produce more compelling wines. Better sun exposures. Better drainage (both soil and air). More vine stress. Cooler nights. Lower yields. Higher quality fruit. At the March 2014 Wine Media Guild lunch, held recently at Felidia’s in Manhattan, members and guests were treated to some modern-day examples of this received wisdom, from the “mountain wineries” of Napa Valley and Sonoma County, including: Smith-Madrone (Spring Mountain). “We are trying to make the very best wine in the world” with the Cook’s Flat program, said co-owner Stu Smith (who attended and spoke at the lunch). While it’s still early days yet for the 2007 vintage, a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Cab Franc, the aromatic nose is full of high-tone eucalyptus and menthol, and the layered fruit and earth on the palate should develop beautifully with some cellar time. The overall key, according to Smith, is that the mountain fruit brings with it excellent acidity, without which “wines are boring and dull” and will never age well. Period. No argument here, Stu.

Ellen Landis, Ellen on Wine blog

Silky texture, spirited acidity

2010 Cook's Flat

This multi-layered Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Cabernet Franc is intense right from the focused berry and cherry aromas that waft from the glass.  The tight yet flavor packed palate offers up blueberry, black cherry, cassis, savory spice and hints of capsicum and a broad beam of tannins.  Aged for nineteen months in 100% new French oak, the oak is ever present but sits properly in the background.  The texture is silky and the spirited acidity keeps the wine in balance through the finish. This Cab, in its youth now, will continue to develop more fully with age.

Dan Berger’s Vintage Experiences, Vol. XVII, Issue 40, November 21, 2013


2010 Cook's Flat

Unlike most other pricey wines, this Cabernet based blend isn’t overripe or so ostentatious that it takes its eye off the dinner table. The aroma has both red and black cherry fruit, and there is an herbal complexity that will add depth to the wine as it ages. Pricey, but excellent.

American Winery Guide, Martin Redmond, August 2014

2010 Cook's Flat

Alluring cassis, black cherry, toasted oak, and spice aromas. On the palate, it is medium-bodied, well-structured, layered and supple with promising black cherry and cassis flavors and a long finish. Excellent now, but lay it down for another 7-10 years and you'll be amply rewarded for your patience. It’s a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Cabernet Franc. It was aged for eighteen months in 100% new French oak, and then aged three years in the bottle.