Cabernet Sauvignon Reviews

Tasting Panel Magazine, Michael Franz, September 2024

One of Napa’s classiest Cabernets in a vintage that shows it in peak form

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

97 points: nearing five years of age as this winery’s current release, this has settled into a sweet spot where oak, primary fruit and tannin are all singing in harmony. Savory undertones emerge to lend enduringly intriguing complexities as this warms and breathes in one’s glass. Neither pushy nor reticent, heavy nor light, this is one of Napa’s classiest Cabernets in a vintage that shows it in peak form. 

Eve Bushman, Wine101, May 31, 2024

Welcoming approachable now....

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

The color is very purple, and opaque. Aromas reminded me of blackberry jam on toast, blueberry, crushed brown leaves, red earth, and dark chocolate. On the mouth I noted a welcoming balance of dark berry fruit and mellow spices, as well as some of that chocolate I found on the nose, and medium tannins. It amazed me that the wine was so approachable now, meaning that you don’t have to cellar it before enjoying but you certainly can if that’s your preference. We had this with a nice steak dinner.

PullThatCork, Nancy Brazil, June 7, 2024

Complex without being heavy or too ripe

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

Dark ruby with generous aromas of plums, cedar, blackberries and hints of roasted red peppers. Flavors include blackberries, red plums, dried tobacco and cedar. The body is medium with juicy acidity. This is a Cabernet with energy, fresh flavors and lively acidity. It’s complex without being heavy or too ripe. It is a pleasure to sip. The blend, 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, is aged for 18 months in 55% new French oak. Sip this Cabernet with a meal, regardless of the season. This is a Cab I would sip even in summer.

I have a thing for mountainside vineyards. Growing vines on the side of a mountain is definitely not the easiest place to grow them, but some of the most interesting and complex wines I’ve tasted are grown there. Smith-Madrone wines are both. They are also elegant, unexpected and affordable. Affordable and Napa Valley are sometimes mutually exclusive with regard to wine.

Wilfred Wong,, May 2024

Powerful yet stylish

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

93 points: Powerful yet stylish. Enjoy its aromas and flavors of ripe blackberries, dried earth, and oak with grilled, well-marbled ribeye.

Ryan O'Hara, TheFermentedFruit, May 8, 2024

Terrific expression of mountain-grown Cabernet Sauvignon

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

A breath of fresh air in a sea of overoaked and over ripe Napa Cabs – the 2019 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon is another terrific expression of mountain-grown Cabernet Sauvignon. Intense and lengthy with gorgeous purity of fruit and that mineral backbone we all long for. A superb effort and a really sold value proposition at $65 a bottle.

Purely Domestic Wine Report, Doug Wilder, January 2024

Silky spice

2018 Cabernet Sauvignon

The nose is forward juniper and bay laurel with sticky shrub berries and chocolate. The palate entry is lean herbal-tinged red fruit with a textured core of raspberry, hard cherry and watermelon finishing with silky brown spice. Drink 2023-2045.

Joe Campbell, The Wine Bulletin, October 27, 2022

Great balance

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

Dark stone fruit on the nose with flavors of blackberry, black cherry and just a hint of black pepper. The wine shows great balance with a nice, long finish. A composition of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot.

Jeff Kralik, The Drunken Cyclist, January 24, 2024

A stellar wine

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

93 points. Just the mention of “Smith-Madrone” makes me giddy–the wines are always on point, precisely made, exhibit the terroir, and are also reserved and food-friendly. If you pop a Smith-Madrone Cab and are expecting a “typical Napa Cab” you will be sorely disappointed. Instead, the medium-color wine with plenty of red berry fruit and a solid dose of green notes: both herbal and green pepper (albeit subtle) is more subtle and understated than its Valley brethren. The reserved fruit is at the forefront on the palate, followed quickly by a zingy tartness. Having tasted several Smith-Madrone Cabs now, I find this a bit lean compared to others, resulting in a more acid-driven wine than in years past. Still, this is a stellar wine and would excel on just about any dinner table. Outstanding.

Obviously Wine Blog, Tanous El-Kareh, December 2023

A New World masterpiece that truly exceeded expectations

2018 Cabernet Sauvignon

A deep ruby and purple core with high extraction and intensity of aromas. Notes of toasted black pepper, green pepper, cardamom, balsamic vinegar, tomato leaf, gun powder, prune, black tea and bay leaf, continued to deepen and develop over the 45 minutes spent tasting the wine. Balanced in nearly all aspects with tannin and alcohol in unison as the wine was exposed to more and more oxygen. A wine of exceptional quality that if taken care of will cellar for the next quarter century without cause for concern.

Food pairing:

Prime rib with red wine demi glaze

Peppercorn crusted beef filet with white truffle oil roasted Brussels sprouts

Classic American meatloaf brushed with ketchup (for the kid in all of us)

A truly outstanding wine that is too young for my palate and would greatly benefit from extended aging. That being said, of course the wine is exceptional, but I wish we had cause to return to it over the next decade. A New World masterpiece that truly exceeded all our expectations.

Talk-a-vino, Anatoli Levine, January 2, 2024


2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

This 2019 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon has the impeccable precision of a beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon, varietally correct and incredibly enticing, even coercing you into the nirvana state – yes, this is how good this wine is.

Talk-a-vino, Anatoli Levine, December 17, 2023

Textbook Cab...amazing palate....

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

Brilliant dark ruby. A perfection. A textbook Cabernet Sauvignon cassis, pure, perfectly precise cassis. You can think of a bell pepper – I’m not sure it is there, but it comes to mind. The palate is amazing – cassis, eucalyptus, perfect minerality, a touch of the pencil shavings, salivating acidity. This is an impeccably balanced wine built for aging. In 10 years, it will be insanely good. In 20 – … well, I don’t want to even think about waiting that long…

International Wine Review, Don Winkler, November 2, 2023

Excellent depth of flavor, absolutely delicious

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

Dark red. Terrific bouquet with notes of cassis and dark berries and with nuances of cedar and spice. Elegant on the nose and palate with an attack of pure fruit complemented by minerals and tangy acidity. There’s excellent depth of flavor on a broad, albeit nicely focused, palate. Finishes with lingering freshness and a repeat note of bright acidity. Overall, absolutely delicious and a bargain for a Napa Cab of this quality. A blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot and 12% Cabernet Franc matured 18 months in 55% new French oak.

WineSipping, Oded Cohen, October 24, 2023

Drinking beautifully, gorgeous nose, complex, well-balanced

2003 Cabernet Sauvignon

Dark ruby in color with a wide reddish/ brick rim. Beautiful nose of black fruits, cedar, chocolates, herbs, tobacco leaf and cola. Full-bodied and elegant with medium acidity. Dry on the palate with blackberries, black currants, plums, cooked cherries, cedar, mint, vanilla, spices, licorice, espresso, cola, light herbs, eucalyptus, light earth, tobacco leaf, dark chocolates and peppercorn. Long finish with round tannins and tangy raspberries. This 20 year old Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley is drinking beautifully now. Showing a gorgeous nose, that I kept on smelling for a while. Feels much younger than it actually is, complex and well balanced. Good right out of the bottle with grippy tannins, and better after a couple of hours in the decanter.
Peaking now and good by itself or with food. Will continue to drink nicely in the next 5 years. A gorgeous wine. I love these older Napa Bordeaux blends. A blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc. Aged in new American oak barrels for 22 months. Unfiltered and unfined.

Bin 412, Eric Hiltz, October 12, 2023

Exemplifies the finesse that Smith-Madrone brings to its reds, with velvety tannins and a lingering finish

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

A true embodiment of this special terroir, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon was a tapestry of dark fruits, cassis, and hints of mocha, cedar, pencil lead and even a touch of pepper. This wine exemplified the finesse that Smith-Madrone brings to its reds, with velvety tannins and a lingering finish.  The final blend includes 12% Cabernet Franc which added a wonderful floral lift while the 5% Merlot rounded out the edges and made this immediately enjoyable right from the first pour.  Aged 18 months in 55% new French Oak, it provides immediate pleasure and will be hard to keep in the cellar long enough to appreciate the life it likely has ahead.  So well done.

Men's Journal, Matthew Kaner, July 31, 2023

Ideal Napa Cab to give newlyweds

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

The property was first planted in 1972, a magical year that birthed many pioneering wineries in the Napa Valley. The Smith brothers, Stuart and Charles, made the early decision to dry-farm their vineyards on Spring Mountain. The soils are mostly deep-red Aiken Stoney Clay loam, part of the Aiken, Kidd, Forward complex of soils which are volcanic-based, well-drained and deep for mountain soils. Ideal for making mountain Cabernet Sauvignon with a unique character. The name immortalizes their last name, as well as the famous Madrone tree found all over the 200 acre ranch - home to black bears, hawks, and enormous 120-year-old Picholine olive trees in this hilltop sanctuary. With its approachable price, this is an ideal Napa Cab to gift the newlyweds two bottles, and encourage them to pop on their 1st AND 2nd anniversary!

Prof. Stephen Bainbridge, June 30, 2023

Complex, tasty, elegant

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

Deep purple. Powerful bouquet. Intense flavors with a long finish. Drinkable now with smooth tannins, but there's plenty of structure to support cellaring. If I drink another bottle in the near future, as I'm very likely to do, I would loosen it up a little by double decanting and allowing it to breath for about 30 minutes. Plenty of rich, dark fruits. Black currant, blackberry, and black cherry. There's also a green element that I associate more with left bank Bordeaux than Napa cabernets. Herbs and green bell pepper. Complex. Tasty. Excellent.

Ellen Landis, EllenOnWine, July 8, 2023

Deep and rich with a gorgeous texture and supple well-integrated tannins

2018 Cabernet Sauvignon

The expressive aromatic drives you into the glass.  Deep and rich with a gorgeous texture and supple, well-integrated tannins.  Black plums, blackberries, sweet tobacco, crème de cassis, and graphite flow seamlessly across the palate.  Pleasing barrel spice sits nicely in the background adding further dimension. Intensely built while elegant, with years of enjoyment ahead.

Ellen Landis, EllenOnWine, July 8, 2023

Palate fully delivers what aroma promises

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

The compelling aroma will keep you lingering over the glass, and the palate fully delivers what the aroma promises.  Flavors of dark berries, freshly turned earth, black currants, olive tapenade, blueberry coulis, and underlying oak marry deliciously.  Tannins are firm, the texture is velvety, and savory notes add depth through the long, memorable finish.  Approachable now, yet age-worthy if you have the patience to wait!

Amateur Sommelier, Alec Termer, June 18, 2023

Wonderfully dark and juicy

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

Making its way off of Spring Mountain, this Cab is wonderfully dark and juicy, with a nicely contrasting spice and dryness to tie it all together. The aroma fills the glass with cherry, plum, marionberry, sage, pepper, and clove. The taste evolves from the aroma with a bolder black cherry, blackberry, plum, marionberry, toasted oak, baking spice, pepper, and some leather. From the bottle, this wine rushes across your palate with a peppery spice along with the more woody and earthy taste. After a couple seconds the fruit begins to reveal itself using the dryness and spice as a platform to become the dominant aspects of the taste. If you let the wine rest for even just 15 minutes the dryness started to take a backseat to the fruit. The darker fruit character takes the seat at the front of your palate while all of the other components slowly begin to creep around. Personally, letting the wine rest gave more opportunity to pick apart and analyze all the different aspects of this bottle. There is a long and jammy aftertaste that allows the spice to settle as more of a baking spice, and the fruit gets dark to the point where through the juicyness you can almost taste the skins of the cherry and plum. To push this Cabernet a little further it is slightly blended with 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot. This blending helps to highlight some of the more unique qualities, and separate it from other Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.

Jeff Siegel, The Wine Curmudgeon, June 12, 2023

Quality grapes meet top-notch winemaking

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

We’ve waxed poetic about Smith-Madrone wines on the blog before--its riesling is one of the world’s best. But this red is the wine – because of the way the wine world works – that made the winery famous. Taste it, and you’ll know why. The Smith-Madrone 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon demonstrates what happens when quality grapes meet top-notch winemaking and there is a vision for what the wine should be. That is, not just another 93-point wine, but a bottle that reflects who is making the wine and where the grapes are grown. In other words, wine the way it should be. This is a stylish and layered red – 83 percent cabernet sauvignon, 12 percent cabernet franc, and five percent merlot – in which the cabernet franc adds a a surprising amount of structure. I didn’t know the blend when I tasted it, but – if I may boast – I figured there had to be something else there to lend that sort of backbone. Look for all of the characteristics that define a cabernet from Napa’s Spring Mountain District: tannins that don’t stick out and hurt the back of the mouth, what the tasting notes call zingy acidity, and lots and lots of dark fruit – some berries and some not – plus a touch of black pepper. Know that the wine needs food to stand up to all that it offers. This is still a young wine, and though it’s more than drinkable now – yes, for Father’s Day – it should age nicely for four or five more years.

Catherine Fallis, Planet Grape, June 3, 2023

Rich, finely chewy

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

Rich, finely chewy and dry with notes of black cherry, blackberry, dark chocolate, clove and mint.

James Suckling,, May 23, 2023

Polished tannins

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

Aromas of cassis, currant leaf, pine needles, nut shell and cedar. Full-bodied and a little tight with raw but polished tannins and juicy dark fruit. Hints of spiced oak and leafy herbs at the end. Needs some time to soften. Try after 2025.

Steve McIntosh, Imbiber's Journal, May 24, 2023


2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

Signs of summer are spreading across much of the country, which means a swapping out of cuisines in favor of summer fare. For whites, this means porch quaffers that won't weigh you down; sauvignon blanc, Alsatian whites, pinot grigio, and so on. For reds, a shift towards more fruit forward wines that will stand up to the char flavors of grilled food; zinfandels, grenaches, shiraz, etc. But there's still time to sneak in a few more meals in this springtime shoulder season where a more nuanced approach to cabernet will fit nicely. The 2019 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain ($65) is one wine that can do the trick, and which remains remarkably consistent year to year, and is an anomalous value in the context of Napa Valley. Pair it with a marinated cut of lean beef and a lightly-dressed, hearty salad with some crunch to it. Alchemy. This wine has terrific clarity despite its very deep burgundy color. Classic Spring Mountain aromas emerge, including dark fruit, pencil graphite, forest floor, and a whisper of conifer needles. The texture strikes the mouth first: fine tailoring around a poised structure of blue-tinged fruit, subtle oak, and regal acidity. Medium density and medium body, the restraint here allows grace and elegance to shine through more easily. Very enjoyable now, but would love to meet this wine again in 10, 20, and 30 years.

Napa Wine Project, Dave Thompson, May 2023

"Goofy delicious"

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2019 Smith Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot. It was aged for 18 months in 55% new French oak. It is dark ruby in color with purplish tinges along the rim of the glass; the bouquet immediately offers darker spices including of crushed peppercorn, a subtle green pepper note, more like Jalapeno (we have become intimately familiar this year with numerous types of peppers after frequent stops and purchases of such produce at Regusci farm stand in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District), toasted oak and tobacco along with violets, dark plum and a mocha sweetness found deeper in the aromatics. The palate offers primarily red fruits (cherries and currants) anchored by a bright acidity. Unlike more robust contemporary mountain Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon bottlings, the tannins here are kept in check, are rounded, finer grained and are well-integrated into the seamless, dark, and savory finish (menthol, dried tobacco leaf and light notes of pepper). Smith Madrone crafts their wines to be enjoyable to drink in their youth but have all the characteristics to age for quite some time. And they want their wines to have a fun aspect, to continue to beg another sip. And this bottling in particular, Charlie simply calls, “goofy delicious.”

Ellen Clifford, Scrumptious Gruel, April 25, 2023

Rich 'n ripe, plush and silky

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon

Rich 'n ripe, plush and silky. Green but like richly moss forest green Cabernet pyrazines tickle the tannins which are persistent, I’ll give them that they are like me in a dysfunctional relationship, unable to give up, but these tannins will make their case known and I will not break up with them. They are followed with black cassis and oaky fun–vanilla, maybe a toasty nut, and is that maybe even coconut omg it draws out the finish. All the richness ends with a hit of what I can only describe as marine blue freshness. That is probably my synesthesia–maybe some salinity or fresh herbal notes is a better way to describe it but to me it is undeniably marine blue. I paired it with a walnut while drinking it (go crazy, Elle) and lemme tell you a little protein goes a long way.

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