Allie Merrick and Peter Eizel of MyWineWords found the 2005 Cabernet ‘beautiful’ (and more!) in this video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3VY8uM4z4s
Gotta love a Napa Cabernet that is found to be both regal and royal on the palate. With eucalyptus and dark fruit notes on the nose, the palate pleases with more black fruit and cooking spices. Refined tannin and respectable acid make this 2005 an exceptional bottle of Spring Mountain Cabernet from Smith-Madrone.
About.com recommends 2005 Cabernet as a Top 10 Thanksgiving Day wine
“Thanksgiving can be a high pressure event with all of the food prep, guest preferences, wine selections and seating arrangements, but it doesn’t have to be! We’ll try to pare down the preparations by offering up a starting point for our top Thanksgiving wine picks and pairings.
For those that believe all special occasions call for a Cab, the 2005 Smith-Madrone is the perfect all-American Cab to call on for celebrating Thanksgiving. Limited production, dry-farmed and crafted by two brothers, Stuart and Charles Smith, this Cab is remarkable for its concentration, intensity, overall balance and final finesse. Bringing a truly artisanal wine to the table with a mix of red and black fruit, plenty of power and an undeniable presence, this is a top pick for the holidays.”
A review of the ’05 Cabernet on WineBerserkers: Old time Spring Mountain Cabernet. Notes of plum, cassis, minerals, some briar, mint and herbs. Palate is fresh and focused, deep, a little racy, with more minerals and black fruit. Very good balance and the tannic edge integrates front to back. Fine, long finish. The wine cries out for a grilled lamb chop and will benefit from cellar time. I wish more modern cabs from Spring Mountain expressed their place of origin this well. Warning, if you are a fan of big, thick, velvety Napa cab this will not float your boat. But if you miss the Napa cabs of the late eighties to early-mid nineties like I do, this will be a pleasant and welcomed surprise. (91 pts.)
Blogger TJ Jones just added these notes to his Smith-Madrone entry: “Wanted you to know that we had your 2005 Cab for dinner with high quality rib eye steak. Even before the meal, my wife commented on how good the wine was, and she generally likes whites. Yeah, it was very good, indeed. Not at all the Parker type with over ripe fruit. Much drier, with good tannins and structure. But when the wine aired a bit, and especially when we paired it with steak, it really came into its own. This is a great Cab. Exceptional in every way. I took notes but who cares about notes? This is not a Cab everyone will love immediately unless it is given some air and, ideally, paired with some food. What this Cab has underneath the tannins is complexity. Unlike many bold Cabs, this one has layers of subtlety once the tannins are aired or paired.
Your Riesling hit me over the head at the winery and knocked me out after I tasted a bottle. Your Cab intrigued me at the winery, but a sample did not do it justice. This is a phenomenal Cab. I can’t wait to try your reserve and your 2007 when they are available, and I really need to taste more of your Chard. I still say your Riesling is the best American Riesling I’ve ever tasted and comparable to the best in the world. Now I have to say your Cab is among the best I’ve ever had. It improves with air, so will improve with time. But if you drink it now and pair it properly, it really comes into its own.
You make some great wines. To paraphrase Dylan Thomas, these are wines to make your toes tingle. Thanks for all of your hard work and dedication to growing and producing great wines. It makes life more interesting.”
Read the entire entry: http://bachtobacchus.blogspot.com/2011/12/smith-madrone-vineyards.html
In the April issue of Mutineer Magazine, Barrie Lynn, The Cheese Impresario, paired our 2005 Cabernet with Old Chatham Sheepherding Company’s Camemberts (they make sheep’s milk and cow’s milk versions). Her verdict: “I call Smith-Madrone proprietors, Stu and Charlie Smith “The Mountain Men of Napa,” and their 2005 Cabernet is a stellar example of the power of the terroir from this unique, high-elevation property in the Spring Mountain District. The earthiness of the wine melds wonderfully with the earthiness of the sheep’s milk while bringing out the fruit-forwardness of the wine and the sweetness of the cow’s milk. Don’t miss the rind with the wine!”
With thanks to Howard Bernstein in Des Moines for his kind words: “For the Cab. Sauv. lovers out there, Smith Madrone’s 2005 Spring Mountain (Cal.) Cabernet is a brawny lad that’s drinking nice now and will show well for the next 10 years. Stuart Smith said he considers this wine to be “silky.” Yeah, like a velvet gloved fist! http://dsmwineconnection.typepad.com/des_moines_wine_and_food_/2011/09/2011-wine-industry-tastings-pt-ii.html
Winecast’s Tim Elliott’s review: Deep garnet color with aromas of black cherry, blackcurrant, sage and eucalyptus. Rich blackcurrant and black cherry fruit flavors with white pepper and mint finishing with moderate tannins. A classic Napa Valley Cab that is delicious now but will reward cellaring for the next 10-15 years. Highly Recommended.
So say our colleagues at Waterford Wine Company in Milwaukee: Here is how they got there: “Smith-Madrone makes one of the greatest Cabernets in Napa Valley. Once, in Napa Valley, Smith-Madrone was joined by a host of other famous wineries who crafted their Cabernets in a classic style – Heitz Martha’s Vineyard, BV George de Latour, Mayacamas, and even some early Robert Mondavi Reserve. These wines were based on the venerable vineyards they were grown in. But then something changed. Call it Parkerization, wine maker choice, or global warming; Napa’s Cabernets are now riper and more alcoholic. Using oak to balance their gooey sweetness these “modern” Cabernets raise their prices concomitant to their owner’s egos, rather than the quality of the wine. But on Spring Mountain, in Napa Valley, the two brothers Smith dry farm their old vine Cabernet from the encroaching Madrone forest. Not many people talk about dry farming or old vine Cabernet in Napa because very few have the courage or ability to do either. But the Smith brothers do both and this sets their Cabernet far above the curve of Napa Valley. Most wineries purposefully do not let their Cabernet vines get old. They rip them out of the ground at the youthful age of twenty. Old vines produce less fruit, and the older they get the lower the yield. A lowered yield automatically lowers the quantity of wine that can be produced, ultimately cutting into a winery’s paycheck. And very few wineries are willing to make that sacrifice. But old vines also produce more dramatic wine. Age lowers a vine’s vigor, naturally producing a smaller crop. This naturally lowered crop forces the vine to put more energy into fewer berries. The result is far more concentrated, richer flavors. And the Smith Brothers, with Cabernet vines nearly reaching the half-century mark, have some of the oldest in the Valley. Dry farming (which is exactly what it sounds like – farming without irrigation of any kind) is very difficult to practice. So much so that most wineries don’t bother – they irrigate with abandon. Again, it is a question of yield. If vines do not receive water, they struggle and produce fewer berries. Well-watered vines produce bigger and more abundant berries. Not only does this lead to a bigger crop and more money but also watered down wines. Smith-Madrone’s dry farmed vines have to work harder than most, digging their roots deep into the bedrock of Spring Mountain. Most irrigated vines will have a root system that is two feet deep. Dry farmed vines will typical dig down twenty feet. The idea is that a deep root system pulls up minerals and flavors into the wine, creating more complexity as well as a sense of place in the Cabernet. The results are profound in Smith-Madrone’s Cabernet. The wine opens with aromas of blackberry, black cherry, dried herbs and cassis. It is classically built Napa Cabernet and the palate demonstrates this. The tannins are supple, cedary and full. The wine resonates like great old-growth Bordeaux; Smith-Madrone’s Cabernet is meant to age. In time, as the tannins soften, the wine’s aroma will become even more dramatic, opening up with roses, sweet smoking spices, and a framboise liqueur like finish. This is a classic Napa Cabernet, revealing fruit full of California sunshine and the structure to back it up. The Smith brothers have never changed the style of their Cabernet for a critic, preferring to let nature show how great Napa Cabernet can be. And while they take great pride in every vintage, their prices have always been more than fair for the quality of what is in their bottles. Now, even more so. Here is their piece: http://www.waterfordwine.com/2011/11/08/a-classic-napa-cabernet-smith-madrone/
We’re honored that distinguished wine writer Frederic Koeppel chose the ’08 Chardonnay and ’05 Cabernet to be part of his group of 2011’s 50 Great Wines: “…by great I mean not only that they pleased me immensely and intensely but that they possess something so special in the way of personality and character and authenticity that they register on a higher plane than the stuff that’s just tasty and enjoyable…”
It’s here: http://biggerthanyourhead.net/2012/01/07/50-great-wines-of-2011/