Cabernet Sauvignon Reviews

Planet Grape Wine Review, Catherine Fallis, September 15, 2021

Notes of cassis, blueberry, fig, sun dried tomato, espresso, dark chocolate and clove.

2018 Cabernet Sauvignon

92 points: Full, youthfully gripping and dry with notes of cassis, blueberry, fig, sun dried tomato, espresso, dark chocolate and clove.

Houston Chronicle, Dale Robertson, September 8, 2021

Unanimous recommendation

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

Our tasters gave it a unanimous recommendation: “blackberries, red currants and black pepper flavors. Dusty and herbal. Oak shows on the finish.” The grapes are from the producer’s steeply sloped dry-farmed estate, which sits atop Spring Mountain at 1,800 feet above sea level. The blend contains a small amount of merlot and cab franc. .

Tom Dobson, August 17, Instagram

Absolutely delightful

2018 Cabernet Sauvignon

So I had this the other day, and, well, it was delicious. This is NOT that super overripe, jammy, sweet style Cali Cab. No sir. This is crunchy dark red and black fruit. A touch of dried earth. A little bit of a dried savory herb. Tobacco and soft spice. Tannins that were already integrated. Oh, and some snappy acidity that made me go “Damn, I want to drink this again in about 5 years.” Absolutely delightful now, and it’s on its way to finding its happy place too.

Cheryl Garst and Ashley T. Martinez, CaliforniaDateNight, August 11, 2021


2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

There are many ways to enjoy the 2016 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon by Smith-Madrone and we happen to think that relaxing by the San Diego Harbor at dusk is one of them. From the Spring Mountain District in Napa Valley, this wine is demure and sophisticated and is deep garnet in color. The blend is 89.7% Cabernet Sauvignon with just a bit of Cab Franc and Merlot. Both red and black fruits are present in the aroma and flavor but they are subtle and balanced by leather, tobacco, clove and a hint of green pepper. This wine is neither too bold (like many Napa Valley Cabs) or too light, it’s perfectly medium-bodied, acidic yet rich, and the mountainous tannins frame a full mouthfeel and lingering finish. This is a Napa Cabernet that is equally enjoyable to drink on its own or with food. It paired perfectly with the jalapeño venison sausage that Cheryl’s dad makes but would also be great with smoked brisket or a pungent Taleggio cheese.

Food & Wine Magazine, Ray Isle, July 2021


2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

Brothers Stuart and Charlie Smith spent several days last fall fighting fires that threatened their Spring Mountain estate, keeping it safe for its 50th anniversary this year. When I was there in May, trees were scorched but vines were intact—and this aromatic, black currant-rich 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon was just stellar.

Dr. Jamie Goode, WineAnorak, April 29, 2021

This is brilliant

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

This is brilliant. Napa is often knocked for its excess: Cabernet Sauvignon wines made from grapes picked too late, spoofed up, and generally over-done, selling for hundreds of dollars a bottle. But this is a throwback to when the region made balanced wines with ageing potential. After all, it’s a great place to grow wine grapes. This is from a vineyard established in 1971 in Spring Mountain, on the site of a vineyard that was abandoned in 1919 with prohibition. This is a beautiful expression of Cabernet Sauvignon with freshness and lovely detail. Sweet berries and red cherries on the nose with some gravelly, spicy notes. There’s some oak here, but it integrates beautifully with the focused red berry fruits. There’s almost a Mediterranean herbal background to the berry fruits. So refined and balanced, this is a brilliant old-school Napa wine, with a bright future ahead of it. It’s certainly ripe, with a sweet fruit profile, but it’s nicely balanced with some nice structure.

MyRedWineGuys, June 3, 2021

Balanced tannins with a long finish

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

A 100% Spring Mountain Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc with aromas of blackberries, dark cherries, cedar and forest floor....decant this wine for an hour for balanced tannins with a long finish.

Drinkhacker, Christopher Null, May 13, 2021

Notes of currants, chocolate and spice

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

While it’s a touch green on the nose, time in glass helps temper some initial tannins and earthiness here, leading to a palate that features notes of currants, chocolate, and spice, filtered through a fairly sweet vanilla character.

Kathleen Wilcox, April 22, 2021, Instagram

Mountains create special flavors

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

The Cabernet gets a little pop of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, and brings a basket of black and red fruit, mountain brambles, with leather, cedar, smoke, as structured, quiet and powerful as an old church. Dark, mysterious, captivating. Yet another reminder (as if I needed it) that mountains create special flavors.

EveWine101, Eve Bushman, April 16, 2021

Bursting with spices

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

Blackberry, blueberry, ash, cigar, incense, stewed mushrooms, char, earth and dark chocolate – all aromas I found on the nose. The flavors reminded me of the darkest of fruit, bursting with spices and layered with rich tannins and pepper. The finish was extremely long. I might like to lay this one down a few years and see how it develops. Was fine right now with Short Rib Ravioli.

LM Archer Instagram, March 29, 2021


2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

Deep garnet robe. Tomato leaf, capsicum, tobacco, dark fruit nose. Plum, cassis on the attack, hint of cocoa mid palate; lovely lingering finish. One of the absolute TOP Napa Cabs I’ve yet taste. Stunning.

Stephen McConnell, March 9, 2021, Wine1percent

Calm, balanced integriy....PURE....REAL....So absolutely PERFECT

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

I grew up in the mountains of California, and one of the things which has always struck me about these wines is how palpable the mountain air is on the nose. The way the volcanic soil and rocks and towering conifers, sprawling oak and manzanita play so headily into how the wines smell–right down to the kinnikinnick underfoot. Tiger-lilies along the creek and dogwood flushing out, lazy alder sitting in the shade of sycamores down in the draws, beds of lush nettle and blackberry brambles running up from the water into the warm sunshine where wild ceanothus and chaparral mingle. These are the magical points of mountain wines, and while valley-floor wines can be lush and well-fed, typically predictable by vintage variations, the hillside stuff doesn’t really see that kind of weather–or homogeny.

This stuff pours dark and dense, and obviously generous decanting is advised–especially at this ridiculous age. Nearly impenetrable and glass-staining, the black ruby comes to an abrupt edge. Black cherry and even blacker berry lie thick in the nose, accented by dusty mint and eucalyptus, mascarpone and petrichor driving it all along.

In the mouth, the calm, balanced integrity of the wine takes center-stage. It is not jammily effusive, not chunkily gobb-stopping; what really rolls your eyes back into your head is the even distribution of everything across the palate. The only sharp edges come from the crazily-young structure, and even they are polite in their attack. Black and bitter mid-palate, completely uplifting the original focused fruit to concentrated status. The briar and spice are mellow and well-integrated, just serving as more subtle points contributing to the whole. Tannins are so easy, but impossible to ignore.

Drinking a wine like this quite shines a light on other Napa offerings shooting for the stars and the RP96 in distilled fruit pudding, hi-alcohol and breath-taking tannin. This wine is just so PURE. So REAL. So absolutely PERFECT., Jeb Dunnuck, January 27, 2021

Outstanding finish

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

If you like classic, old school Cabernet and don't mind a solid kick of green, you'll dig this. Revealing a healthy purple/ruby color as well as notes of red currants, green tobacco, cedarwood and damp earth, it hits the palate with medium-bodied richness, a nicely concentrated, structured mouthfeel, solid ripeness in the tannins and an outstanding finish. Give bottles a good 4-5 years of bottle age, and it should evolve for 15 years or more.

Wine Enthusiast, Virginie Boone, March 2021

Elegant, restrained palate

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

92 points: From the producer's dry-farmed estate, the grapes for this wine are grown at 1,800-feet in elevation. Dried herb, black pepper and clove arise on the nose. The elegant, restrained palate brings notes of forest floor, red currant and cigar, all wrapped in a mountainous tannic structure.

WineReviewOnline, Rich Cook, December 15, 2020

94 points: a fine glass

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

This vintage from veteran producers Stuart and Charles Smith shows the typical structure and age-worthy character that has marked nearly fifty vintages for the duo. Careful farming and minimal intervention winemaking of the Spring Mountain fruit always brings a fine glass that shows a bit of the rugged spirit that drew the brothers to the land, and that’s a bonus in my book. Some Cabernet Franc (6%) and Merlot (3%) are evident on the nose and in the mouth, adding depth with notes of pepper and herb, and adding structure with Franc’s freshening acidity and suppleness with Merlot’s rich feel. Always built for cellaring, this wine will go long, so give it a long decant if you need to enjoy near term – a full day isn’t a bad idea. Once again, great wine from the mountain!

Vintage Experiences, Dan Berger, December 3, 2020

Stunningly complex red wine

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

Anyone who grew up in wine in the 1980s and was able to taste and understand some of the complexity that Napa Valley Cabernets offered in those formative years will appreciate the overwhelming stylistic parallel in this stunningly complex red wine. The remarkable parallel to the past starts with wonderful acidity of almost 7 g/L, and continues with a remarkably low 3.4 pH, giving it a structural integrity that you will not find it very many other Napa Valley Cabs. In terms of flavor, the wine offers dried herbs, black cherry, and a trace of cassis, and although it’s drinkable now, it will be far better in a decade. Charlie and Stu Smith have made this Cabernet statement for decades and have always flown under the radar. Considering the price of so many Napa Valley Cabernets these days, this is an absolute bargain.

The Tasting Panel Magazine, November-December 2020, Meridith May

93 points: round, elegant, silky

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

93 points: The grapes for this Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant blend with small percentages of Cabernet Franc and Merlot grow in steep, dry-farmed vineyards in cool mountain temperatures. Bold aromas of brush, black plum and espresso precede a round, elegant, borderline-silky mouthfeel with coffee-flavored tannins, sweet earth and dark chocolate. 

MyRedWineGuys, November 17, 2020

A wine with a special meaning behind it

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

This weekend we were reflecting on which wine we should open that had a special meaning behind it. Ours was 2015 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon! It was 11 months ago on a chilly December morning. We drove up to Spring Mountain to visit Charlie Smith, winemaker at Smith-Madrone Estate. We joined a group of 10 as Charlie went through the different wines, how they were made and the unique characteristics of each wine! This was definitely a man in love with his wine, you could feel the electricity of his thoughts as he related stories to the different wines! Our heart was heavy with the thought of Smith-Madrone being destroyed by the Glass fire but the latest word we have, most was saved! The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon from Spring Mountain is 84% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Cabernet Franc, all estate grow. Aged for 18 months in 65% new, 35% once used French oak which doesn’t take away from the terroir of Spring Mountain. Dark fruit aromas greet you as you bring your glass up for a taste. The mouthwatering fruits slowly entice you as this bold wine finishes with a soft long finish. .
Highly recommend you decant for 2-3 hours so the wine really opens up! Great job Charlie, Stu and Sam!

Decanter Magazine, September 2020

Sleek and silky

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

90 points: Reserved black fruits on the stylish nose. Sleek and silky, yet concentrated and lifted, with fine intensity of fruit.

Terroirist, Isaac Baker, November 14, 2020

Long life ahead for this beautiful Cabernet

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

93 points. Medium purple color. Aromas show tart but deep currants and black cherries, with lots of earthy, spicy complexity (tobacco, paved road, warm clay, graphite) with dark chocolate and espresso notes. Full but nuanced on the palate, well-built, grippy but refined tannins support juicy, tart red and black currant, and the balance between all these elements is lovely. Notes of leather, black pepper, tobacco leaf, mint, along with charcoal, vanilla and cedar nuances. Delicious, pretty, packs complexity and nuance. Long life ahead for this beautiful Cab. Includes a combined 10% Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this is aged 19 months in 45% new French oak.

Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Peg Melnik, November 10, 2020

4 stars

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

4 stars. A striking cabernet with black and red fruit, coupled with savory herbs. Generous fruit, yet manages to be balanced. Lingering finish. Lovely.

BiggerThanYourHead, Frederic Koeppel, November 4, 2020

Ecstatically flavorful

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

The Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, was made from steeply sloping, dry-farmed vines at 1,800 feet up Spring Mountain. This is a blend of 89.7 percent cabernet sauvignon, 6.4 percent cabernet franc and 3.4 percent merlot, aged 19 months in French oak, 45 percent new barrels. The color is very dark but not impenetrable ruby-purple; the wine’s hillside origins are evident in its first impression of sage, thyme and graphite, briers and brambles; scents of black currants and blueberries unfurl notes of sour cherries and sandalwood, crushed lavender and violets, licorice and wild cumin pulverized in a stone bowl with black pepper; the wine is quite dry, framed by rigorous tannins and seething acidity, with layers of flint, chalk and loam, yet, paradoxically, the effect is not ponderous or overwhelming but lithe, supple, energetic and ecstatically flavorful. Now through 2030 to ’32.

Vinography, Alder Yarrow, September 6, 2020

Predictably lovely, with wonderful hints of green herbs and other savory notes that are unfortunately rare in Napa Cabernet these days

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

Smith-Madrone has long been a favorite producer of mine up on Napa’s Spring Mountain. Their 2016 Cabernet is predictably lovely, with wonderful hints of green herbs and other savory notes that are unfortunately rare in Napa Cabernet these days. Dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black pepper, cut fresh herbs, and just a hint of green bell pepper. In the mouth, wonderfully bright and juicy flavors of cherry, cola, and a touch of pipe tobacco have faint fresh herbal notes backing them up as well as gorgeous acidity. Powdery, fine-grained tannins ghost the edges of the mouth, as a hint of bell pepper lingers in the finish. Really lovely.

WineTravelEats, Amber Burke, July 17, 2020

Lovely structure, acidity and layers of flavor

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is made up of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Cabernet Franc. Each year the blend changes slightly. One of the things I love about this Cab is that it is great right out of the bottle. It, of course, can age – it has lovely structure, acidity, and layers of flavor. Because Smith-Madrone ages this wine in barrel for a whopping 18 months before bottling, you get a more mature wine from the start. No need to wait for years until you can drink this beauty. On the nose, you will find an intoxicating blend of dark fruit, ripe red plums, and baking spices. On the palate, you will find all of the classic notes of a fine Cabernet Sauvignon – summer forest fruits dance in the glass with layers of forest floor, cigar box, and baking spices coming together in a luscious sip. This wine is a medium body with well-integrated tannins that make it truly food-friendly. No need for a great big steak, although it can easily handle that bulk. Instead, it can be served with more delicate meats like veal or lamb, pasta, or even a simple burger. When someone asks me to recommend a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon I always put this one at the top of the list.

Tasting Panel Magazine, Meridith May, November 2020

Round and elegant mouthfeel

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon

93 points: Grapes are grown on steep, dry-farmed vineyards in cool mountain temperatures.A blend of 89.7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6.4% Cabernet Franc and 3.4% Merlot, the wine was aged in (45% new) French oak. Bold aromas of brush, black plum, and espresso. Round and elegant mouthfeel – to the point of silky – with coffee-flavored tannins, sweet earth, and dark chocolate.

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