Cabernet Sauvignon Reviews

Oded Cohen, WineSipping.com, April 5, 2023

Left Bank Bordeaux?

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

Dark ruby in color with a wide reddish rim. On the nose blueberries, black plums, black cherries, earth, oak, licorice, eucalyptus, spices, herbs, dark coffee and light black pepper. Medium plus in body with medium acidity. Dry on the palate with blackberries, black currants, cooked cherries, oak, licorice, earth, spices, dark chocolates, tobacco leaf, herbs and peppercorn. Tangy finish with fine grained tannins and raspberries. This 4 year old Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley is still young, but starting to drink very nicely now. Shows nice complexity and smooth. Definitely not the extracted Napa cab Style. Feels more like a Left Bank Bordeaux. Nice to see that coming from Napa. Needs 90 minutes to open up properly, and will continue to age nicely in the next 10 years. Good by itself or with food. A nice wine to pair with a nice piece of steak. Paired nicely with aged Gorgonzola cheese from France.


https://winesipping.wordpress.com/2023/04/05/smith-madrone-vineyards-spring-mountain-district-cabernet-sauvignon-2019-napa-valley-california/

WineReviewOnline, Vince Simmon, March 22, 2023

Vineyard management is both scientific and ephemerally artful           

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

94 points: Every now and then you find a wine that fills the room with a beautiful bouquet of aromas immediately after being poured.  Maybe it’s the scenery or maybe the time of day but Smith-Madrone’s Cabernet did just that for me, with red and black cherry, hard cheese rind, marionberry, and subtle leather notes.  The body is all business with rich, complex blackberry, black cherry, boysenberry, black currant, cedar, and tobacco notes.  Much of the complexity of this wine comes from the vineyard where Stu Smith has put in countless hours.  No detail goes unconsidered from his duty as a sustainable farmer, row direction and spacing impacts on sunlight for each grape, to his own trellising system that manages canopy sunlight.  His vineyard management is both scientific and ephemerally artful.  This Cabernet Sauvignon can be aged further but I can also see why many Napa wine lovers would want to enjoy its raw power just the way it is.           


http://winereviewonline.com/wine_reviews.cfm

Meridith May, Tasting Panel Magazine, March 2023

Luscious

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

94 points: Generous notes of boysenberry up front are seasoned with basil and tarragon, mulberry, spearmint and violet-toned underbrush (possibly a result of the addition of 12% Cabernet Franc) are relaxed by the presence of delicate tannins, but the inner strength of this determined red shows through a savory line-up of black olive and slate. Complex and layered but ultimately luscious.


https://www.tastingpanelmag.com/the-tasting-panel-magazine-march-april-2023-digital-edition/

Wine1percent.com, Stephen McConnell, March 7, 2023

Classic forever-ageable...beautiful vintage....

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

Deep ruby in the glass, transparent but staining–with well-defined legs. The color is magnificent: the rim sometimes kissed with amber–sometimes feeling pink. Decanted heavily. The nose has big, rich qualifications with plentiful tar and leather underpinnings, but pulls back before flabby flatulence spoils the effect into crowd-pleasing chubbiness. Bruised floral–rose and lily–paint wide swaths edged with sharp tobacco which morphs to wet earth.

In the mouth, a Mourvedre- or cold-climate Petite Sirah-peppery robustness plays tricks on the Cabernet foundations, producing a sharp, green-leather and muddled-herb topping to good acid and a gentle introduction of mineral. Brambly berry and cherry maintain steady beat throughout, as pointed and aggressive as the rasp of powerful tannins. The finish thins in classic forever-ageable fashion, evoking the best of Left Bank. As with any producer dedicated to heritage over early-term lusciousness, the beautiful vintage makes it agreeable now, but machinations are in place for 20+ years.


https://wine1percent.com/2023/03/07/please-the-palate/

BiggerThanYourHead, Frederic Koeppel, January 6, 2023

Exceptional

2018 Cabernet Sauvignon

Exceptional.

Chosen as one of Top 50 Wines of 2022: Here it is, the annual list of 50 Great Wines from whatever year is in question, this, of course, being 2022........it’s a highly subjective tally of what I perceive to be the greatest wines that I encountered during that year. By “great,” I mean exciting, provocative, transcendent, the ultimate translation of a grape or grapes into their best and most laudable purpose. These factors rely on my personal taste, experience, judgment and intuition....


https://biggerthanyourhead.net/2023/01/50-great-wines-of-2022/

Wilford Wong, Wine.com, January 3, 2023

An exceptionally lively and elegant wine

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

93 points: The aroma of the 2019 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon immediately hits you with a luxurious combination of blue and black fruit. Cassis, black cherry, marionberry and black plums dominate. Dig in a little deeper and you will find subtle hints of black pepper, graphite, black olives and a range of spices. An experienced taster should also be able to identify the signature quality that 12% Cabernet Franc lends to this wine’s seductive nose. Medium weight on the palate, this is an exceptionally lively and elegant wine, loaded with delicious dark fruit. It is bright, creamy and plush at mid-palate, then slowly tapers off to a long, lingering finish that is both succulent and zingy. It is a completely lovely wine that qualifies as serious fun in a glass. The Spring Mountain pedigree insures deliciously integrated tannins and a long life-span.


https://www.wine.com/product/smith-madrone-cabernet-sauvignon-2019/1206710

James Melendez, JamesTheWineMan, December 1, 2022

Balanced, beautiful, gorgeous

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

Youtube video review

95 points: "...balanced, beautiful, gorgeous, emblematic of Spring Mountain mountain terroir..."


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoAGTx6LDBM

Jeff Kralik, The Drunken Cyclist, December 29, 2022

Whoa. Outstanding. 

2018 Cabernet Sauvignon

95 points. Outstanding. There are few wines that I receive as samples every year about which I get more excited than those from Smith-Madrone. And I know I am not alone in the wine writing/blogosphere when it comes to that sentiment. All it takes is one encounter with Stu Smith and it is easy to become hooked. Let’s just say that Stu does not shy away to share an opinion, which is so refreshing in a wine industry that seems much more focused on “message” and “image.” I scheduled an hour interview with Stu a couple of years ago and it lasted nearly two-and-a-half hours. And it was one of my absolute favorite interviews I have ever conducted. And the wine? Whoa. Medium to dark color with intense fruit aromas of blackberry, plum, and cassis. Whoa. There is a hint of oak (21 months in 50% new French), a dash of spice (clove, black pepper), and a sliver of herbs (sage, mint, basil). Whoa. The palate is even more worthy of remark as the fruit initially dominates, followed by a perfectly balancing acidity, and then the potpourri of flavors: spice, oak, sage. The lasting finish reveals that wonderful balance and just a hint of nearly integrated, soft tannins. Whoa. 


https://thedrunkencyclist.com/2022/12/29/my-top-red-wines-of-the-year-2022/

Nancy Brazil, PullThatCork, December 19, 2022

Elegant, layered flavors

2018 Cabernet Sauvignon

Dark ruby with generous aromas of dark and red fruit, dried thyme and hints of roasted green pepper. Flavors include blackberries, raspberries, black currants and earth with hints of dried tomato leaf, tobacco and cedar. Ample acidity enhances the lively fruit flavors. Tannins are firm but fine in a medium body with a moderately-long finish. Elegant, layered flavors with integrated tannins make this Cabernet one to sip and savor. The 2019 blend includes 5% Merlot and 12% Cabernet Franc aged for 18 months in 55% new French oak. Beef Wellington anyone?


https://pullthatcork.com/2022/smith-madrone-vineyards/

Owen Bargreen, October 22, 2022

Serious poise, beautiful and elegant

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

93 points: I adored the new 2019 Smith-Madrone Cabernet which shows serious poise and lovely herbal accents. Concentrated and showing great aging potential, this beauty will cellar well for decades. Beautiful and elegant, the wine shows off red bell pepper with anise, black currants and pencil lead notes on the nose. The palate is fleshy and ripe with great acidity. With more air tobacco leaf and worn leather notes emerge, as this is beautiful to consume now and over the next fifteen years. Drink 2022-2037.


https://owenbargreen.com/blog/2022/10/6/smith-madrone

Jeff Kralik, TheDrunkenCyclist, December 12, 2022

Outstanding

2018 Cabernet Sauvignon

95 points: There are few wines that I receive as samples every year about which I get more excited than those from Smith-Madrone. And I know I am not alone in the wine writing/blogosphere when it comes to that sentiment. All it takes is one encounter with Stu Smith over a glass of Smith-Madrone and it is easy to become hooked. Let’s just say that Stu does not shy away to share an opinion, which is so refreshing in a wine industry that seems much more focused on “message” and “image.” I scheduled an hour interview with Stu a couple of years ago, which lasted nearly two-and-a-half hours. And it was one of my absolute favorite interviews I have ever conducted. And the wine? Whoa. Medium to dark color with intense fruit aromas of blackberry, plum, and cassis. Whoa. There is a hint of oak (21 months in 50% new French), a dash of spice (clove, black pepper), and a sliver of herbs (sage, mint, basil). Whoa. The palate is even more worthy of remark as the fruit initially dominates, followed by a perfectly balancing acidity, and then the potpourri of flavors: spice, oak, sage. The lasting finish reveals that wonderful balance and just a hint of nearly integrated, soft tannins. Outstanding.


https://thedrunkencyclist.com/2022/12/12/i-am-an-idiot-but-also-extremely-fortunate/

FabulousCalifornia.com, Alison Batz, December 2, 2022

A shining star

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

A shining star of the Spring Mountain District of Napa, the aromatics of this vintage of the Cabernet come in waves. First, there is the cassis. Then, the black plums. Finally, the black cherry settles on the nose. To the taste, there is a noted spice – both baking and pepper – as well as a zing on the long finish


https://fabulouscalifornia.com/food-drink/winter-california-wines/

JancisRobinson.com, Elaine Chukan Brown, December 1, 2022

Go-to for classic character, reliable quality and comparative affordability

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

Napa Valley finds at under $65

Top tips around an unlikely theme from someone who knows how to sniff out the bargains.

It’s a common criticism: Napa Valley wines are too expensive. As the prestige of the region has increased, so has the price of land, the expense of farming, and the overall cost of living. Altogether it means the investment needed to make wine from the region is simply higher, too. Finding bottles from the Napa Valley that over-deliver on quality for their price point can seem challenging but it is not impossible. I spent part of this year seeking out wines on the more affordable side to see if I could offer some useful guidelines. My target price point to start was $55 and under. Admittedly, that is more than what most people spend on everyday wine. But for a region where a single bottle can easily reach over $500, and even well above $1,000, $55 and under seems modest by comparison. 

As a region, Napa has steadily grown in prestige since the late 1970s. But that means producers who were able to buy land before the 1990s did so at far lower prices than today. Many historic wineries still owned by their founding families benefited from early investment in the region and some have used that advantage to keep prices generally lower than many competitors.

One of my go-to wineries for classic character, reliable quality, and comparative affordability is Smith-Madrone. Set on the upper slopes of the Spring Mountain District, the property was established by Stu and Charlie Smith in the 1970s, with Stu managing the vineyards and Charlie taking over the winemaking. They continue to farm and make the wine themselves in the finely structured, light-touch style they were founded on, and have raised prices only slowly over the years. Vintage to vintage their Cabernet Sauvignon stands out. Its price snuck up to $65 in recent vintages but it can be hard to find Cabernet with this level of integrity and freshness so it’s worth mentioning. The wine consistently respects its vintage while bringing structure with mountain character balanced by flavour.


https://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/napa-valley-finds-under-65

Wine Enthusiast, Jim Gordon, November 2022

Good acidity and firm tannins

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

Good acidity and firm tannins combine for a grippy texture in this tangy, red-fruited wine made from the dry-farmed mountain property. Slightly lean red cherries and raspberries are accented with light herbal, toasty notes. Best from 2027–2037.


https://www.winemag.com/buying-guide/smith-madrone-2019-estate-bottled-cabernet-sauvignon-spring-mountain-district/

WineReviewOnline, Rich Cook, November 22, 2022

Captures at once both rusticity and elegance

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

96 points: What this winery has accomplished over fifty plus years on Spring Mountain is astounding, and if you’re not familiar with them, this bottle is a perfect introduction.  Like so many of the vintages of this wine across time, this captures at once both rusticity and elegance, with classic Cabernet Sauvignon aromatics, flavors and build quality.  In the extensive line, I would say the 2019 is long on early generosity of flavor while maintaining the structure of a sure to be long lived wine.  A Napa Valley legend marches on, and at prices that make sure that those seeking classics can still afford them.  Bravo!  Contains 12% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot.      


http://winereviewonline.com/wine_reviews.cfm

Nittany Epicurean, Michael Chelus, November 16, 2022

A rich palate, good length

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

From a winery that I've been happy to feature many times in this series....This wine is mostly cabernet sauvignon (83%) blended with small amounts of merlot (5%) and cabernet franc (12%). The fruit was estate grown in Napa's Spring Mountain District. Following fermentation, the wine was aged for 18 months in French oak barrels (55% new). It comes in at 14.3% ABV. The wine showed a dark ruby color. Black cherry, cassis, raspberry, vanilla, eucalyptus and oak all arrived on the nose. Cherry, cassis, raspberry and vanilla were the foundation of a rich palate followed by supporting notes of eucalyptus, blackberry and oak. The wine was full-bodied and exhibited good length along with soft tannins. It would pair very well with a bone-in ribeye grilled over a wood fire.


http://nittanyepicurean.blogspot.com/2022/11/2019-smith-madrone-estate-cabernet.html

Wine & Spirits Magazine, Holiday 2022 issue, Josh Greene

Beautiful tannins....a pretty smart Cabernet, especially at the price

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

93 points, Best Buy: You can feel the dappled sunlight in this wine as the flavors shift from warm, sunny forest berries to cool forest-floor tannins. Those beautiful tannins coat the fruit in a drape of dark riches—espresso-roast coffee, redwood tea, smoke and madrone. Stu Smith has been farming the steep slopes of Spring Mountain without irrigation since 1971 (it’s not named Spring Mountain for nothing). His vines rise from 1,300 to 2,000 feet in elevation, rooted in a complex geology that seems to provide all the nuance in the lasting flavor. This is pretty smart cabernet, especially at the price—a 2019 that should age well.



Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, Peg Melnik, November 9, 2022

Well-crafted

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

4 stars. A tasty cab with black cherry, cassis and an undercurrent of cracked black pepper. Supple texture and well-crafted.


https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/lifestyle/wine-of-the-week-flambeaux-wine-2018-cabernet-sauvignon-dry-creek-valley/

Terroirist.com, Isaac Baker, October 21. 2022

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

95 points: Vibrant purple color. The fruit on the nose shows these tart but deep vibes (black cherries, blueberries, currants), mixed with these scents of iron, graphite, sage, tobacco and pepper. Give it air, and there’s a ton to coax out. On the palate, this is full but fresh with nice grip and crisp acidity. The black currant and cherry fruit is juicy and tangy, and the mouthfeel is smooth and effortless. The fruit is woven in well with flavors of tobacco, roasted red pepper, sage and clove. Nuanced, gorgeous complexity, this is a stellar 2019 Cab that deserves time in the cellar and some great company. Includes 12% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot, aged 18 months in 55% new French oak. 


https://www.terroirist.com/wine-reviews-california-selections/#more-31888

Red Onion Restaurant, Saugerties, New York, October 20, 2022

A real California beauty

2018 Cabernet Sauvignon

One of our favorite Napa Valley AVA offerings, 2018 Smith Madrone Cabernet is a real California beauty. It opens with a sumptuous nose of red and black fruit with notes of pie spice and graphite. The palate that follows is big, elegantly textured and incredibly balanced, supported by robust and well-integrated tannins. We believe it's one of the better Cabernets that Spring Mountain District has to offer.


https://www.instagram.com/p/Cj3qW49Pb2B/

John Jackson, AttorneySomm, October 11, 2022

Always enjoyable

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon


Near the top of Spring Mountain you will find Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery. Smith-Madrone has 38 acres of vineyards on its 170-acre ranch. 13 of these acres are devoted to Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyards are planted on steep slopes at elevations ranging from 1,300-2,000 feet. Smith-Madrone was an early proponent of dry farming. Dry farming causes the grapevines to struggle and search of water and nutrients. The result is lower yields with small grapes that have high skin-to-juice ratios and produce concentrated fruit. This fruit, in turn, leads to wine with greater intensity and concentration than wine made from grapes that are the product of high yields. While I typically enjoy Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon with some additional bottle age, I recently decided to get an early read on the 2019 Smith-Madrone Estate Cabernet Sauvignon! This wine consists of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot. It was aged for 18 months in 55% new French oak. Flavors and aromas included blackcurrant, blackberry, black cherry, plums, pencil lead, violets, vanilla bean, sage and spice mix. This wine is always very enjoyable!


https://www.instagram.com/reel/Cjk159EgXgr/?igshid=MDJmNzVkMjY=

Napa Valley Register, Dan Berger, October 14, 2022

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine of The Week: To best illustrate how Napa Valley can produce Cabs of longevity and achieve it with wines that work brilliantly soon with food, the brothers Smith have crafted yet another classic from 1,800 feet above the valley floor. This wine has traces of dried herbs, Latakia tobacco, thyme, olive, and tea. Stu Smith said, “It’s my kind of Napa Valley Cab with layers of black and red fruit and good acid – a kind of old California style… We’re more of a European style winery, we want wines that age well.” The numbers: pH is 3.56, acid is .68, alcohol is 14.3%. It’s made to be at a peak in 20 years or more. 


https://napavalleyregister.com/wine/dan-berger-on-wine-a-magical-historical-tasting-at-beaulieu-pays-tribute-to-andr-tchelistcheff/article_515ee678-4a67-11ed-8ef4-87d547ecf7ec.html

Vinography, Alder Yarrow, September 25, 2022

Elegant, excellent acidity, well-integrated oak, restrained, ageworthy

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

....the perennially tasty Smith-Madrone Cabernet, made high on the slopes of Spring Mountain by two brothers who have doggedly stuck to their vision for what Napa Cabernet should be for many years—namely restrained and ageworthy. Their 2019 is a beautiful expression of their style and of the steep hillsides they farm. Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of crushed dried flowers, tobacco leaf, and black cherries. In the mouth, wonderfully intense black cherry and forest floor notes have a hint of pencil lead and more of the moist pipe tobacco scent that is so alluring. Excellent acidity and very well-integrated oak round out the package. The tannins are quite restrained, and fine-grained, like a soft suede against the top and sides of the mouth. Elegant.


https://www.vinography.com/2022/09/vinography-unboxed-week-of-9-18-22

Stephen McConnell, Wine1percent, September 20, 2022

Powerful and rich, perfectly balanced

2018 Cabernet Sauvignon

Mmmmm Cabernet. I love Cabernet. I love Napa Cab. All my Cab-haters out there be like meh… but I like GOOD Napa Cab, and Smith-Madrone makes a good one. Year-in, year-out. I’ve never had a bad one. Not even one *weird* or *odd* or *bad vintage* or even remotely *off*. And the price–a tired topic constantly making rounds through the blogosphere–remains an absolute bargain. Checking in on this 4YO proves no different. Deep sultry ruby, thick and dense at the core, a thin ruddy rim advertising the savory goodies. Layers of spice and muddled briar pack the nose, a crisp dark-green melange of delicious tobacco, red dust and redwood hillside flora over cherry so dark chocolate, mint and salt it boggles in its *lightness* of concentration. Decanted heartily. Visions of disgustingly deep berry swarm the entry. Powerful and rich, sweet and flavorful, tangy bitter exudes from the depth of blackberry in a strawberry-rhubarb sort of leathery angst. Perfectly balanced in expression here even at this young age, there’s no awkward edges, no glowing glycerine, no chubby splendor, no posting-up of lavish oak treatment obscuring ANYTHING but allowing pure Cabernet expression to flow freely. When was the last time you had a cab without a single asterisk? The fruit wanes delicately over the middle, letting structure speak: letting things OTHER than rich, terribly-concentrated sweetness, formulaic flavors or stupendous oak–things all-too-common in the current wagering for the tourist palate–do the talking. The acid plays with slight eucalyptus into a finish obviously rife with tannin, but it’s tannin you have to LOOK for between the clean, forever fruit. Go buy your 99-point desserts and be sad–I’ll just be over here with a real, affordable cab.


https://www.instagram.com/p/CiwFfj-LKsv/

Decanter, Jonathan Cristaldi, September 12, 2022

A great wine

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

93 points: Brothers Stu and Charles Smith craft some of the most structured, classic expressions of the Spring Mountain AVA, and the 2019 is no exception. All the trappings of a great wine are there: subtle dark berry fruit, wild mountains herbs and a pretty capsicum nose. Full-bodied, the palate has ample acidity and freshness, revealing green tobacco, blackcurrant, earth and crushed stone minerality.


https://www.decanter.com/wine-reviews/usa/california/smith-madrone-cabernet-sauvignon-napa-valley-spring-61723

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