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93 points, an exemplar of Spring Mountain District Cabernet

May 2, 2017

In the June 2017 issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Virginie Boone writes about Mastering Napa’s Mountains:

On p. 47 a bottle of 2013 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon nestles in the grass next to Spring Mountain Vineyard’s 2012 Elivette and Terra Valentine’s 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. This review runs on the facing page:

93 points, Editor’s Choice: From dry-farmed estate vines, this savory, classically styled red is dusty in cedar, dried herb and peppercorn, incredibly inviting and nuanced. It speaks quietly of the forest which surrounds its estate, a complex, balanced landscape of subtle, elegant flavor and intriguing length.

The article begins:

Early in the history of the Napa Valley, before the absurdity of Prohibition, grape growers raised their sights. With many hailing from Europe, they understood how wine grapes love to dig deep into hillsides and mountains.

Those pioneers…gave way by the 1950s to a new generation. Such innovators as …the Smith brothers…believed there should be distinct appellations for five of the Napa Valley’s highest mountains: Howell, Diamond, Spring, Mount Veeder and Atlas Peak.

What links the Cabernet Sauvignons from these mountains are their intensity and structure. Mountain fruit is often compact and concentrated, its berries tiny from seasons of struggle and loaded with powerful tannins that take time to unravel. There’s also a distinct spectrum of earthiness in these wines, a product of their wilderness of forest and rock.

…Here’s how these mountain appellations within the Napa Valley differ, and how they don’t…                                                    p. 36

The section on Spring Mountain District begins:

Hidden in plain sight above the town of St. Helena on the eastern side of the Mayacamas, the Spring Mountain District became an official appellation in 1993. The thick presence of forest and the springs throughout the mountain give the area its name and personality, a world away from the Valley below.

Spanning 500 to 2,600 feet in elevation, the appellation is 5,000 acres. Less than 10 per cent of that acreage is planted to grapevines; most is steep and forested. Sedimentary and volcanic loam soils are the norm, typified by high drainage and low fertility.

….Smith-Madrone…are among the longstanding adventurers here. …

Smith-Madrone’s Stu Smith and his brother, Charlie, settled on Spring Mountain in 1970, intrigued by mountain grapes…..     p. 46

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