If you travel to Napa Valley looking for Cabernet Sauvignon, you’re going to find plenty of it. And pretty much regardless of how long your trip is you’re not going to get to taste all of it, or even most of it. What you need to do is set a more modest goal for a particular sub-set of Cabernet; that way at the very least you’ll have a fighting chance. Over the last few years I’ve become increasingly fond of good Mountain Cabernet. There are several renowned mountain regions within Napa and there is some great Cabernet to be found there. Often the depth and purity of fruit these wines showcase is nothing short of stunning. Spending a week hunting down as much Napa Valley Mountain Cab as you can find would be a great way to allocate some time. Last year I visited Smith-Madrone on Spring Mountain for the first time and I was knocked out. Their wines, their property and their personalities are all perfectly authentic examples of some of the very best of what Napa Valley has to offer. Today I’ll look at their current release of Cabernet Sauvignon. The Smith-Madrone 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon was produced from fruit grown at their home vineyards in the Spring Mountain section of Napa Valley. Their vineyards are dry-farmed and the vines used for this wine have 34 years of age on them. In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon (82%), small amounts of Merlot (9%), and Cabernet Franc (9%) were also blended in. Barrel aging was accomplished over 22 months in American oak. The 2005 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon was bottled unfiltered and unfined. Just fewer than 1,500 cases of this vintage were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $45.
Red berry and bramble aromas fill the nose of this Cabernet Sauvignon. The palate is deep and layered with a bevy of flavors. Cherries (both red and black), bits of herb and earth are the primary characteristics that surfaced when I first sipped this wine, Minerals such as flint and hints of pencil lead emerge on the finish along with dark cocoa, espresso and continued earth. The 2005 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon is a remarkably even-keeled, perfectly proportionate Cabernet Sauvignon. From start to finish it shows off rich, textured flavors and deep layers of fruit and spice that reward sipping over a long evening.
This wine from Stuart and Charles Smith is rather delicious now, particularly after an hour or so in the decanter. However it’s quite age-worthy and will improve under proper storage conditions for the next decade at minimum and drink well for another 5 or so after that. The bottom line is that the 2005 vintage of Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon in a tremendous example of why this particular grape and Napa Valley are synonymous. It’s also an exceptional value. In a valley filled with many lofty price tags, the cost of this wine is a steal for the quality you’re getting in the bottle relative to many other examples. The sticker may say $45 but the taste and quality of this wine says $75.