I’ve been dying to taste Smith-Madrone wines since I don’t know how long. I’ve only heard fantastic things about the estate and their wines. And after interviewing Stu Smith, founder, manager, and enologist for Smith-Madrone Winery, for a recent article, highlighting his thoughts on Napa’s recent Measure C ballot, I was even more eager and curious what this downright passionate proprietor is creating with these lovingly tended-for vineyards. So what better way to start than with the varietal Napa is known for?

About the Wine: The Smith-Madrone 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is made from 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 7% Merlot grapes harvested from the Smith-Madrone dry-farmed estate mountain vineyard located in the Spring Mountain District of Napa Valley. The wine aged in 100% French oak barrels (70% new; 30% one-year old) for 18 months.

13.9% ABV

Flavor Profile: Pop the cork on the Smith-Madrone 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon and breathe in immediate aromas of dried fruits, forest floor, and a bit of mocha. This Cabernet Sauvignon presents a dark purple-black on the pour, settling into the glass more purple-rouge, nearly impenetrable at its core, and with a tint of orange-brown at the outermost perimeter.

Initial aromas are of leather, dried black cherry, unsweetened cacao, and bourbon barrel. Swirl and the wine releases scents of dried rose petals, a hint of chocolate, and a solid acidic line.

The palate is full, presenting a solid acidity, and tannins that maintain a friendly presence. There’s just a slight amplification of the acid as the tasting progresses, which in turn showcases the fruit. Likewise, the tannins slightly increase towards the finish, paying homage to those floral notes. Dominant flavors are of oak barrel woodiness, black cherry, tart plum, decadent but dark chocolate, earth, a bit of bacon, and a hint of Brazil nut complete with its skins.

Food Pairing: I paired the Smith-Madrone 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon with a veal roulade: thinly sliced veal rolled with goats cheese, spinach, and cranberries, and encased in prosciutto. This was served alongside carrot three ways: puréed, pickled, and roasted.

First of all, yum. Second of all, perfect pairing. As the evening progressed, the wine opened up beautifully, making way for a rounder texture. The salty prosciutto also gave the wine a more supple mouthfeel and played up the fruit and acidity. Meanwhile the carrot purée, with its earthy sweetness, played up some of the dessert-like qualities of the Cabernet, namely that hint of chocolate and a friendly spice. My one note is that the pickle, when simply tasting that component on its own alongside the wine, actually flattened out the flavors and textures of the wine. Luckily, this was more of a garnish than a main component.

More Info: I received the Smith-Madrone 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon as a sample for review. (Cheers Stu!) Retail: $52. For more information about Smith-Madrone, their wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Smith-Madrone website.


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