2018 Cabernet was one of 50 Great Wines of 2022

Frederick Koeppel rated the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon as Exceptional and included it in his 50 Great Wines of 2022.

“…..Here it is, the annual list of 50 Great Wines from 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…”

“Exceptionally lively and elegant wine,” says Wilfred Wong

Wilfred Wong reviews the 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

2018 Cabernet was a Top 10 wine of 2022

Jeff Kralik considers all the wines he tasted in 2022:

Following my list the other day of my Top White Wines, here are the top red wines that I tasted this year. In order to be considered, the wine had to be received as a sample, rated well into the “Outstanding” category, and earned a “Whoa” (or at least came really close). No attention was paid to price, region, or whether it had a ridiculously heavy bottle. Once again, I tasted well over a thousand wines this year, and here are the top ten reds, at least according to me. As one would expect, there are several Pinots, a couple of Rhône-style blends, and, surprisingly, a couple of Cabs.

Smith-Madrone 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon:

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. Outstanding. 95 Points.

“Quiet heroes”

Our thanks to Andrew Chalk for taking a look at the 2018 Chardonnay:

Smith-Madrone is over 50 years old, but one of the quiet heroes of Napa. So quiet that its consistent commitment to quality may have gone unnoticed in an environment of wineries that seem behaviourally equivalent to screaming teenagers on a Spirit airlines flight.

This wine, like all Smith-Madrone wines, is dry-farmed (i.e. the vines are not irrigated). The grapes grow on the top of Spring Mountain, a beautiful district of Napa Valley set out on either side of narrow, tortuous Spring Valley Road.

Stuart (L) and Charles (R) adopt a Breaking Bad personna

Stuart (L) and Charles (R) adopt a Breaking Bad personna

The soil is very important to founder Stuart Smith and winemaker Charles Smith. In their words

“Our 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. The underlying geology is the very old (250,000,000 years) Franciscan Series Assemblage, unique to California coastal ranges, which includes altered mafic volcanic rocks, deep-sea radiolarian cherts, sandstones, limestones, serpentines, shales and high-pressure metamorphic rocks, all of them faulted and mixed in a seemingly chaotic manner as a result of the Pacific Tectonic Plate subducting under the Continental Plate and shears both off into an aggregate mix. Overlying this formation is the much younger weathered Sonoma Volcanic soil that forms our soils of today”

Their style is unapologetically artisan. Emanating distinctiveness that doesn’t stress the inherent qualities in the grapes, and never produces ‘paint by numbers’ wines. That deep commitment to authenticity has been a model for many young winemakers.

TASTING NOTES

Appearance: Burnished gold hue;

Nose: Tropical fruit of pineapple and mango. Ripe golden apples. Lime. Toasty notes;

Palate: Vibrant acid, underlying phenolic backbone contributes to a rustic mouthfeel, tropical fruit shines through;

Fascinating to sip through during a Godfather rerun, or with roasted poultry, pork chops, or almost any type of seafood. Newcomers to wine might like to try this as their first chardonnay (America’s most popular white grape, by a country mile) since its nose and palate amount to a kind of “reference case” for New World chardonnay. However it talks to you, I think you will like it. Recommended.

https://www.thechalkreport.com/post/wine-review-smith-madrone-2018-chardonnay-estate-bottled-spring-mtn-dist-napa-valley-ca-45

Let it rain!

Overnight (Sunday 12/26 through this morning 12/27) we’ve had four inches of rain. The water has gotten sucked up by the cover crop and the soil and there’s been no run-off; all good! We hope this might bring us up to 17” since the start of the rainy season in the summer. On the average on the mountain we get about 50 inches of rain; that’s what we need to really replenish the groundwater.

On arriving at the vineyard early this morning Stu had to clear a small Douglas fir tree (which had been killed by bark beetles) which had fallen across the road. This is why he always travels with a chain saw, bar oil and gas in his car. This is the second time this season he’s had to cut his way in or out of the winery; the other time was late one night this fall, leaving the winery around 8 pm, when a black oak had fallen across the road. We’re expecting rain all this week—let it fall!

Wine1percent on the 2016 Chardonnay: “doing it perfectly”

One sniff and the floral aromatics on this one are off the charts. Another and the chalky, mineralific, raspy match-head blows you away. Swirl again and the melding of these two is magical as it caresses thick buttery fruit. Is this how you spell perfect Chardonnay? I suppose that argument could be made. Significant golden straw showing here at 6, the chartreuse aspects a faint glow in the body. A nose so overwhelmingly restrained in its grandeur, its elegance, its expression of tasty melon, lychee and green apple.

And then you taste it. The entry a powerful slam of stone-fruit and tropical, edged with bitter acid, petrichor, and steely flint. The middle cascades ridiculous fruit–sweet and chewy–on all surfaces, the balance of which boggles and stuns as the wet soil and high sparkly notes go tête-à-tête on each other in a cuddly battle for non-supremacy. Golden butter and applesauce coat the finish, where the kind of tannin reflecting a near-endless lifespan cause cherubic dreams.

Ya know–Chardonnay’s a weird thing. Marketing is constantly insisting this region or that region will produce the most spectacular examples and we should look no further. Wine-writer is continually penning the same, cookie-cutter captions extolling this producer or that producer as the end-all of modern exhibition. But here. Look here. HERE we have someone doing it perfectly for decades right under everyone’s noses and it really doesn’t get any better.

2018 Cabernet is “Outstanding”

Jeff Kralik at TheDrunkenCyclist considers the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon:

“I decided to cherry-pick some of the best wines I have been ever-so-fortunate to try over the last couple of weeks….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. Whoa. Outstanding. 95 Points.

Read his entire column: