Snooth suggests giving the gift of Cabernet:
Nothing says Cabernet like Napa says Cabernet. It has been home to some of the most successful wineries in the US for decades, and has been the source of some terrific wines over the years, so its reputation is duly deserved. Though it has also been the poster child for both over the top wines of excess and pricing that has but a fleeting association with reality. None the less, if you’re giving a gift, putting a bottle of Napa’s finest Cabernets on the table does carry a significant impact and to be truthful, those overwrought wines that don’t do much for me do have a huge audience. Still, I will always seek out wines that harken back to the great Napa Cabs of the past, if only in spirit. Here are five worth tracking down.
2007 Smith Madrone Smith Madrone makes, for my money, one of the few collectable Cabernets from Napa worth the tariff. It’s a bit of a throwback wine, rustic some might call it. It doesn’t hide its slight herbaceousness, nor does it come with pre -softened tannins. What it does deliver is a lively, earthy, focused mouthful of Cabernet fruit that needs a few years to round out into form but then evolves in classic form for two decades. It is the golden age of Napa Cabernet in a bottle.
In the December issue of Wine & Spirits Magazine:
A Best Buy and One of The Year’s Best Cabernet Sauvignons:
94 points: grown at an elevation of 1,800 feet in weathered volcanic soils this wine comes off dry-farmed vines that were planted in the early 1970s. They produced a magnificent 2007, a cabernet in motion, changing and shifting from red scents of strawberries to black fruit (dark plum-skin tannins) and nectarine-like freshness. Aged in new American white oak barrels and bottled unfined and unfiltered, the wine has a coolness that belies its power, feigning an airy openness, the bass note of tannins held to a quiet rumble. Compelling to drink now, this has the stature to age for a decade or more.
Two wine bloggers have conjured up Smith Bros. cough drops and linked them to us—-The Hosemaster in the last few days and Intox Report last year. Here they are:
The Rocca Family Syrah took quite a while to come around…That sweet, dark fruit was very intriguing. Toward the end it began to show a wild cherry cough drop character—a character I like very much, a reminder of those Smith Brothers cough drops of my childhood (remember those crazy bearded brothers on the box of cough drops?—a foreshadowing of Stu Smith of Smith Madrone winery, I always think).
Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain, 2007, about $45: Grown at the very top of the mountain and on the steepest slopes, from harvest to Happy Hour, this is not a wine for the faint of heart. Nearly black in color, the nose is extracted and condensed with scents of warm berry cobbler, cassis, cedar, smoke and yes—Smith Brother’s Cherry Cough Drops. It had to be said. The mouthfeel is lovely—silken smooth, with a nice nip of tannin; there are layers of black currant, fresh tobacco, pie spice and a solid earthen core and a long, luxuriant finish. A worthy wine for the cellar, since I would be willing to bet my next court-ordered digression that it isn’t going anywhere bad any time soon.
Deep garnet color, superb tears on the glass. Aromas of Poblano pepper, blackberry, currant, vanilla and oak. Very good acidity, with structuring, somewhat powerful, silky and pleasant tannins. Flavors of blackberry, vanilla, graphite and new leather. Very long, digestible and pleasant Cab. Drink now or within eight to ten years.
A prominent nose bigger than Jimmy Durante’s and deep, intense well disciplined fruit with espresso and dark red fruit memes and tannins that made it fit my palate like a Savile Row suit.
My tight-fisted ways mean that I don’t find many wines that I consider a bargain at $48, but this fits that bill.
Snooth recommends 6 great wine lists around the world and one of those is Press, in St. Helena, “the best wine list in Napa Valley for mature wines.”
We’re honored that our 2007 Cabernet is highlighted: it’s called “classic” and “one of Napa Valley’s finest Cabernets.”
Here’s the entire story: http://eat.snooth.com/articles/6-great-wine-lists/?viewall=1
Here’s how to find Press: http://www.pressnapavalley.com/
Smith-Madrone Winery was founded on Napa’s Spring Mountain in 1971 by Stuart Smith and currently produces about 4,000 cases a year. Despite having heard of this venerable Napa producer, looking back over my notes I’ve never actually tried any of their wines. I had always assumed that Madrone was the other half of a partnership, but it turns out to be the most common tree on the property. The beautiful flat leaf evergreen is featured on the label.
Fredric Koeppel taught me to always pay close attention to the mountain sub-appellations of Napa, and they’ve never let me down. These wines come from the Spring Mountain District AVA in the Mayacamas Mountains near St. Helena.
2011 Riesling: Starting in 1983, they stopped calling this wine Johannisberg Riesling and simply sold it as Riesling. It’s always interesting to go back and look at labels from the 70s and 80s–not that long ago–and you’ll see some slightly unusual grape names, like “Pinot Chardonnay”. This Riesling has a crisp green apple aroma and flavor. Bright acidity but light and dry. A perfect summertime sipper, and highly recommended for picnics.
2010 Chardonnay: Lots of buttered popcorn on the nose of this classic California Chardonnay. Bold oak structure and an underlying flavor of ripe apricot. Long, lingering finish. This one would be perfect with a quarter of a roast chicken and fingerling potatoes with lots of sea salt. 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon: On the very first sniff I got a lot of pyrazine, that molecule that gives the aroma of tomato leaves and tobacco. I love that scent, and after more swirling the wine opened up with deeper black cherry and leather aromas. On the palate it is full of dark fruit and medium tannins, leaving a long and savory finish. Well-aged and ready to drink now, though it could easily go for a few more years. Strongly recommended with rack of lamb and a cherry reduction sauce.
s founded on Napa’s SpringMountain in 1971 by
About.com recommends the ’07 Cabernet for Fathers’ Day:
The 2007 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon comes from grapes that have been dry-farmed from nearly 40 year old estate vines at 1,800 feet of elevation on Napa’s Spring Mountain. These grapes have had to work to thrive and the result is intensity, depth, and concentration, pledging pure palate pleasure. From dense black fruit to cedar, spice and smoke the nose exudes mesmerizing depth and welcomes complete engagement.
Well-integrated tannins promise structure now and maturity for the next decade or more. On the palate there’s a supple synergy born of fruit and acidity, balance and structure.
If you are looking to “Wow” Dad with a top notch Napa Valley Cab this Father’s Day from one of Napa’s most authentic, rugged, all-American, smaller-production wineries then this is it!
Blogger Matt Mauldin stopped by for a visit: Here’s his take: To find classically styled wines and a more down-to-earth side of Napa Valley, just look to the mountains. The hairpin roads up and down Mt. Veeder, Spring Mountain, and Howell Mountains on a bright and sunny late April day were filled with twists and turns – leading to great wines, history, and personality.
My third trip up Spring Mountain to Smith-Madrone Vineyards was a great chance to show my friends Justin and Jon what makes brothers Charles and Stu Smith’s winery and vineyards so special. There’s quite a bit of history here too, with the Smiths founding the winery and vineyards in 1971 high atop Spring Mountain on an old vineyard site. There they dry-farm their Bordeaux varietals, Chardonnay, and Riesling. This is always a fun visit – Charles and Stu are colorful characters, the winery is quaint and rustic, and the views of the valley floor from the vineyard are amazing.
We tasted the current releases. The 2010 Smith Madrone Chardonnay, Spring Mountain, Napa Valley was showing nice slate and citrus, balanced and rich, with silky spice depth. The 2007 Cabs were especially impressive. The 2007 Smith Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain, Napa Valley was especially notable for its rich silky structure showing notes of black tea, olive, blackcurrant, cassis and vanilla – along with firm tannins and plenty of depth on the finish. This has the structure of past vintages, with nice accessibility as a new release. The 2007 Smith Madrone Cook’s Flat Reserve was produced to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the winery. 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and 12% Cabernet Franc, it comes from select blocks in the vineyard and is aged in new French barriques (The estate Cab is aged in American oak). This shows similar flavors to the estate cab, with added depth and structure. Very polished and balanced, and very Bordeaux-like. It’s a much higher price point than the estate Cab, but definitely a special wine.
And to see Matt’s photos: http://www.wineilike.blogspot.com/2013/05/head-for-mountains-of-napa-valley.html