Cabernet Sauvignon Reviews

PullThatCork, Nancy Brazil, June 26, 2020

Elegant, balanced, leaves me wanting another sip

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

Light ruby in the glass with complex aromas that include dark fruit and dried tobacco leaf. Layers of flavor begin with red fruit, then dark fruit, leather, dusty earth and tobacco. Tannins are a bit grippy, but well integrated. The wine is medium bodied with a long finish. This Cabernet is light on its feet, with very good complexity and bright acidity. It’s elegant, balanced and leaves me wanting another sip.

Gabe's View, Gabe Sasso, June 16, 2020

I wish more Napa Valley Cabernets tasted like this

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon there’s also 16% Cabernet Franc blended into this wine. Black cherry and hints of leather present on the nose. Red cherry drives the palate along with spice, savory herbs, lots of earth and a core of mineral notes. The finish is long and acid rich. Delicious now this wine will improve over time. I wish more Napa Valley Cabernets tasted like this. People often ask me for Cabernet recommendations to buy as a gift to impress someone. Often they say their budget is $100. I tell them to buy two of these.

Joe Roberts, 1winedude, April 13, 2020

Rugged and brambly in all of the best wayss

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

Like a mountain hike, rugged and brambly in all of the best ways.

RedWinePlease, Neil & Cheri Dubois, April 25, 2020

Just a beautiful wine

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

The wine was dark purple out of the bottle. There was a big nose of macerated berries, with leather and some tar. Also making an appearance were some light oak, candied orange and anise. This is complex. The palate brought less intense fruit at first, right out of the bottle, with brisk tannins and a lean profile. With some time in the glass this really opened up, showing more body, rich fruit, cherry, caramel and herbal notes. We went back to it the second day and it was smoother, more integrated, and just a beautiful wine with pure berry fruit.

Tasting Panel Magazine, Meredith May, April 2020

A silky and statuesque wine

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

94 points: An exquisite bouquet of lavender, dried violets and jasmine arises in tandem with sweet black and red fruit. This is a silky and statuesque wine with a fruit-forward bent, but echoes of graphite and chocolate add complexity of character; its freshness and concentration of fruit is perceptible. The grapes were grown at 1,800 feet atop Spring Mountain (16% Cab Franc is blended in) and aged 18 months in 65% new French oak.

Wine & Spirits Magazine, April 2020

Well-priced collectible

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

92 points: Richly oaked, this wine takes several days to show itself. As the oak recedes, the character of the mountain soil comes up in the detail of the tannins while dark plum, currant and sage notes take the wine toward an austere mountain-grown structure. Suited to long aging, this is a well-priced collectible grown by the Smith brothers, Stuart and Charles.

Decanter Magazine, Elin McCoy, February 2020

Silky texture

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

92 points: The vintage was marked by drought conditions and a hot growing season. Yields at Smith-Madrone were smaller than usual, and the lush blend contains no Merlot. The wine is filled with warm rich, ripe fruit and a silky texture, with a broad, open, inviting character right now. The intense aromas brim with a mix of red plums, violets, cedar and herbs. Drinking Window 2020 – 2030.

Winethropology, Steve McIntosh, February 1, 2020

A wine of depth

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

Nothing showy here; just a deep currant nose with herbal and medicinal aromatics that leads into a closed (at first) mouth...tightly wound, firm, tannic structure and silent power. Definitely going to be a long-lived wine. After enough air, it’s easy to appreciate, but simple it is not. Rather, it’s a wine of depth to enjoy as fortification for body and soul prior to a winter’s hibernation.

Terroirist, Isaac Baker, January 25, 2020

Gorgeous concentration...I'm so stoked this wine exists

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

Spring Mountain’s Smith-Madrone has long made incredible, age-worthy, unique wines, and their new Cabernet delivers oodles of goodness for not much money.

94 points: Light purple color. Wow, the aromas pop with juicy yet crunchy red and black currants, plum skins, along with earthy, rocky tones, graphite, coffee and violets. Full but balanced so nicely on the palate. Solid tannic structure for aging, vibrant acidity, the mouthfeel sets the stage for smooth black cherries and tart red currants. Fruit is laced with violets, clove, graphite, tobacco, and there are lots of earthy, savory tones that need years to fully show themselves. Gorgeous concentration, yet balanced and lively. Includes 16% Cabernet Franc, aged 18 months in 65% new French oak. For my palate, this is one of the most insane bargains in Napa Cabernet. I’m so stoked this wine exists.

I-Wine Review, Don Winkler, January 22, 2020

A delight to drink

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

Sourced from dry farmed vineyards high up (1800’) on Spring Mountain, this is a superb example of mountain Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa.  It offers black currant, plum, and berry fruit complemented by dried herbs and mountain underbrush aromas and flavors. It’s highly aromatic, firmly structured, and a delight to drink as it evolves in the glass, revealing a complexity of flavors that matches the bouquet.  It shows a youthful exuberance, so additional cellar time will only add to its drinking pleasure.

GoodVitis, Aaron Menenberg, January 21, 2020

Elegant and refined tannin

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

The nose is a mountain slope of dark sweet cherry and strawberry, wet barky soil, Herbes de Provence, licorice, molasses, black olive and smoke. It is medium plus in weight with elegant and refined tannin and acute acid that combine to form a traditional Old World style structure. The flavors are layered and extended aging will reveal them all. Right now they include salty cherry, strawberry, plum and rhubarb fruit that cohabitate nicely with olive tapenade, black pepper, rose water and graphite. I’d sit on these for at least another five years and then enjoy through 2030.

Washington Wine Blog, Owen Bargreen, January 8, 2020

Marvelous balance and poise

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

92 points: marvelous with its balance and poise, with deep darker fruit flavors

BiggerThanYourHead, Fredric Koeppel, December 16, 2019

Star-bright acidity, perfect balance and poise

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

The Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley. derived from dry-farmed vineyards 1,800 feet elevation on Spring Mountain, west of the town of Saint Helena. The wine is a blend of 84 percent cabernet sauvignon and 16 percent cabernet franc, aged 18 months in French oak, 65 percent new barrels. The color is a deep yet radiant ruby-purple hue; there’s no mistaking this cabernet for anything other than mountain-grown, with its array of iodine and iron, dusty heather, sage and rosemary; a few moments in the glass unfold layers of black currants and raspberries, with notes of plums, black olives, bell pepper and tar; though the wine displays plenty of structure in its stony, graphite infused tannins and star-bright acidity, its perfect balance and poise lend surprising elegance and balletic grace; these qualities are not contradicted by but bolstered by a chiseled, granitic finish. 14.3 percent alcohol. Now through 2026 to ’28. Excellent.

WrittenPalate, Cori Solomon, December 23, 2019

High elevation Cabernet

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

Definitely one of the pioneers in the Spring Mountain area of Napa, I remember discovering their hideaway winery in the 1980's. Revisiting them today, I found they have developed a nice style. You might call their Cabernet Sauvignon an old styled Napa wine. This winery represents a high elevation Cabernet. The wine consists of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon mixed with Cabernet Franc while it ages for 18 months in 65% new and 35% one-year-old French oak. The wine displays the herbaceous green pepper and spice offset by dark fruit and typical of many old school Napa wineries.

Decanter Magazine, December 2019

92 points

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

Creamy start to the palate, good freshness and very drinkable. Shows some leafy and tomato characters with a bit of dried fruit and sage. Long finish.

Orange County Register, Paul Hodgins, November 28, 2019

One of Napa's best higher-altitude wineries

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

OK, so nobody actually expects to give or receive 12 Christmas presents, like the old carol implies. And not many of us know the reason for the tradition. The 12 days of Christmas marks the span between the birth of Christ and the coming of the Magi, the three wise men, on Jan. 6.

But here’s a dandy way to mark the year’s turning: a different drink for each of those dozen days. We’ve found three cocktails, three wines, three beers and three nonalcoholic alternatives that are fit for your end-of-the-year enjoyment.

2015 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon: Stuart Smith, who founded this winery in 1971, almost lost his Spring Mountain estate to wildfire a couple of years back, which would have eliminated one of Napa’s best higher-altitude wineries. Smith says this about the 2015 Cab: “Aromatically the wine is thrilling in its laser-like focus and intensity of fragrance. At the same time, it delivers remarkable complexity; every inhalation reveals a new and surprising element. Bright fruit, dark fruit, black currants, red plums, lavender, spices violets, green olives, all are present and more. The aroma is so intriguing it is an end in itself.”

1er, Stephen McConnell, November 15, 2019

Do I have to explain about Smith-Madrone? Nah… I didn’t think so. If you know, ya know. If you don’t, there’s more for the rest of us.

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

Medium ruby with an abrupt pink edge. Despite the transparency, it manages a typical glass-staining ability. Heavy perfume pours from the glass, but right where you might expect banana or vanilla, it heads green, averting flabbiness with petrichor and minerality. Blackberry and pomegranate continue their onslaught, overturning piles of wet decomposing wood and black earthworm-filled loam. The cassis and licorice continue building with heavy applications of air, but equally suffocating is the matching build-up of fruit. This thing just CAN’T slow down. Liniment, wet wool and Vicks take their turns through the nose, but like every other amazing nuance of the bouquet, are spread thin on softly-undulating waves of fruit so crystal-clear you can see the bottom many feet below.

Decanted heavily. I can’t wait to taste this thing. Do I have to explain about Smith-Madrone? Nah… I didn’t think so. If you know, ya know. If you don’t, there’s more for the rest of us. They only make 3 wines, all estate, all hillside, all dry-farmed: A Cab, a Chard and a Riesling. Been doing it the same way high up on Spring Mt. forever and it’s getting harder and harder to find wineries where NOTHING changes to suit marketing styles and popular palates as the years progress, Smith-Madrone remains one of the few who stick to the basics, what works, a formula tried and true and not trendy.

In the mouth, an absolute blockade of impenetrable fruit packs every pore. Bright but ridiculously concentrated SHRILL acid conjoining and shearing it apart–first to balance the blackness and then to leverage the concentration. One of those wines you taste with bling-bros raised on tourist-wines and they’re like, Hmmm is there even fruit? OMG YES This is EXACTLY the kind of fruit you WANT at this age. You shouldn’t have to go looking for it, but it also shouldn’t be flopping around giving you cavities. Pie cherry goes directly into the dryness of angels, gunpowder jasmine tannin doing the lord’s work on your tongue and enamel.

Buy 3 cases of this and drink one per year.

Decanter Magazine, December 2015

Highly recommended

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED  : Creamy start to the palate, good freshness and very drinkable. Shows some leafy and tomato characters with a bit of dried fruit and sage. Long finish. Drink 2022-2032 

92 points (Dave Allen)

91 points (Stephen Brook)

93 points (Terry Kandylis)

The Syrah Queen, Rupal Shankar, August 29, 2019

Layered, rich palate

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

From one of the pioneers of Spring Mountain, this Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% estate fruit grown at the top of Spring Mountain. Black cherry, oak and black pepper on the nose precede a layered, rich palate, where soft tannins are the backbone for flavors of forest floor, cloves, savory herbs and cassis. A long and complex finish persists with notes of loam and red fruits. These grapes grow on slopes of up to 30% at an elevation of almost 2,000 feet: this mountain pedigree insures deliciously integrated tannins and a long life span.

Cuvee1985, August 9, 2019

A wine that perfectly exhibits the terroir within which it is grown

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

I promise you’ve never had a Napa Cab quite like this. Smith & Madrone dry farm their Cabernet atop Spring Mountain, producing a wine that perfectly exhibits the terroir within which it is grown. Aromas of evergreen, juniper, fernet and fresh black fruit. So impressed with these guys.

San Francisco Chronicle, August 1, 2019, Esther Mobley

What makes the Smith-Madrone so compelling is that it could have been made in any era. It’s a product not of fashion but of principle. It abides by fundamental standards of wine quality — balance, simplicity — that have never gone out of style, and never will.

General Cab Comment

...And yet there is one wine in our tasting that seems to defy it all. The 2004 Smith-Madrone from Spring Mountain happens to carry a modest 13.9% alcohol, but that’s not the point. By the time we get to it, the 30th wine in our lineup, our mouths are parched and our tongues fatigued. But something in me perks up when I put my nose in the glass.

It’s not the most youthful wine on the table. It bears some telltale signs of aging — cigar box, leather, a browning rim. Still, it’s alive, pulsing with energy, generous with blackberry, currant, licorice and at the same time, restrained and delicate.

What makes the Smith-Madrone so compelling is that it could have been made in any era. It’s a product not of fashion but of principle. It abides by fundamental standards of wine quality — balance, simplicity — that have never gone out of style, and never will.

Tasting the Smith-Madrone, it seems clear to me that today’s trendiest wines have more in common with 2004 than their makers would like to imagine. In the annals of taste, wines that are immoderately funky or excruciatingly lean will have just as short of a shelf life as the extravagantly ripe wines of the aughts.

No matter what form it takes, excess will always get old. But sometimes, when something stays the course, ignores the fads, keeps it simple, we get a taste of timelessness.

SyrahQueen, Rupal Shankar, December 6, 2018

Elegantly integrated mouthful

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

 Best Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for intimate holiday dinners (Under $60)

Smith-Madrone wines are made entirely from dry-farmed estate vineyards surrounding the winery on top of Spring Mountain in the Napa Valley. Stuart Smith chose specific slopes with different exposures for specific varietals when planting the vineyards, specifically southern and western exposures across flat stretches for the Cabernet Sauvignon. Stu was named one of the wine industry’s most inspirational people in January 2018. 

This wine opens with a concentrated nose of dark fruits, leading with notes of boysenberry and plum. The palate is remarkably seamless, an elegantly integrated mouthful with a velvety, silky texture which leaves you realizing how wine-making can ‘distill’ a grape into a powerful perfume, the essence of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Forbes Gift Guide, Katie Bell, November 21, 2018

Finesse, power and silk in one sip

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

The year of the earthquake, and one of the region’s fiercest droughts, brought vineyard challenges but ultimately yielded some exceptional wines. Smith Madrone’s mountainside Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic example of how challenged grapes bring densely concentrated fruit flavor and also ensure distinctiveness. This wine shows off with deep black cherry notes, spice, finesse, power and silk in one sip.

Greg Ballington and India Okoh, Millennial Drinkers, March 5, 2018

Gets richer

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

91 points: Deep and dark purplish ruby red. Very young on the nose with greenery, twigs, some cinnamon and dark berries. Even a touch of mint as it opens. Full bodied. Notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, dark cherries and cocoa. Gets richer as it airs. Long and dry finish.

International Wine Report, Owen Bargreen, January 2018

Beautifully balanced

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

91 points: this is a classic display of Napa Valley Cabernet. This instantly grabs your attention as it releases aromatics of dark fruits intermingling with spices and herbal elements. The mouthwatering acidity is lovely, as this medium to full-bodied wine delivers flavors of blackberry cobbler, crushed mint and coffee grounds which entice. This beautifully balanced Cabernet will cellar gracefully over the next decade.

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