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Smith-Madrone 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

I have always heard that if you love what you do, it will never seem like work. No surprise… and a loud duh, I love drinking wine. More than that, I love trying new wines. One of the benefits of blogging about wine is that it forces me out of my comfort zone. I can not become complacent and drink the same style and variety of wine, bottle after bottle. It is essential that I branch out.


That said, it has been ages since I purposefully drank a California Cab. My experience with these Cabs. have been challenging at best, finding them to be a bit heavy-handed and too tannic for my taste. Then I was asked to try the Smith-Madrone 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. Well, Misters Smith, you have made me a huge fan. And clearly, I have been buying all wrong.

Smith-Madrone 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon
Spring Mountain District * Napa Valley

The Smith-Madrone 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is the perfect balance of Old World and New World styles. It is soft and finessed. It is earth and fruit. And oh, it makes me smile from ear to ear while I look for a place to hide the bottle, so I do not have to share it. Drats foiled again, Gary knows my hiding place.  

My view
Their view                                                    Photo Credit: Meg Smith

The Tasting

The color is dark and purple with subtle purple-ruby edges. The aromas at the top* bring out cedar and a hint of wet terra cotta. At the bottom*, I find stewed prunes and raisins, and other black fruits mixed with a woodsy earthiness.  My drinking partner finds similar yet different aromas calling out dusty, dry cherries and dense mossy forest. We are both intrigued by the smells/aromas that seem to complement each other rather than fight for top billing.

From the first sip to the last there is roundness and balance. To me, black fruit permeates with a light kiss of acid right from the start. The tannins are soft and approachable.  As the wine finishes you get a second burst of acidity that cleanses your palate in anticipation of your next sip. Which I did… over and over and over again. This wine is rocking my world.

For my partner, he is struck by the harmony between the dark fruits and the earth.

Geez, we are both loving this wine. My sister pops in the house while we are sipping, so I hand her my glass.  All she can say is, “WOW!, damn that is good.”

One final comment: I was prepared to like this wine but did not expect to want to search it out locally.  I was so incredibly wrong. This is a fantastic wine.


Possible Pairings

This is an excellent cocktail wine. Be sure to drink it with some nutty, firm cheeses or stuffed mushrooms.

It will also hold up to a hearty dinner. Try it with melt in your mouth short ribs and mushroom risotto. Duck breast with a plum sauce would be killer or even a burger off of your outdoor grill.

Photo Credit Paul Hermann / Unsplash

About the Wine, the Growers, and the Makers

100% estate fruit * Dry-farmed * 18 months in French oak 70% new 30% one-year-old * 42-year-old vines on steep slopes at the top of Spring Mountain in Napa Valley * ABV 13.9% * According to the winemaker, the 2014 harvest was terrific even with the drought.

This wine can age when properly stored for up to 25 years but is an absolute joy to drink right now.

Smith-Madrone is a family affair; founded by Stuart Smith in 1971. He is the managing partner and enologist. His brother Charles and his son Sam are Winemaker and Assistant Winemaker, respectively.  All wines are Spring Mountain District appellation; all wines are estate-grown and estate-bottled.  They produce approximately 3,000 cases a year.

Photo Credit: Mike Dunne

Where to buy or drink in Charleston area and beyond

Charleston Restaurants

Anson at 12 Anson Street, Charleston SC. * (843) 577-0551 * [email protected]

Hank’s Seafood 10 Hayne Street, Charleston, SC. * 843 723-3474 * [email protected] * And if you go here… ask for Matt or Alissa to be your server. They are my neighbors and are good people.

Charleston Area Retail Stores

(call ahead as it could be gone when you get there)

Crushed Fine Wines 716 S. Shelmore Blvd., #101 Shelmore Village, Mount PleasantSC * (843) 856-1156 * Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. It sells for $58.00 a bottle.

Lowcountry Wine and Spirits 3642 Savannah Hwy #140, Johns Island, SC * (843) 769-2722 * Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. (no website, email or other online presence) It sells here for $56.00 a bottle.

Many stores will also special order for you so be sure to ask your favorite retailer.

This wine has national distribution so you may find it in your local area.  Let me know, and I will track it down for you.

Order from Winery

If all else fails, you can find this wine on their website: Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery where it sells for $52.00 per bottle. Please remember that you will have shipping on top of that, so the price goes up with that.
Here and at Featured Image Photo Credit: Kelly Puleio

What do I mean when I say “at the top” and “at the bottom”?

Aromas that come off the wine linger at different levels in your wine glass. As you smell your wine move your nose around in the glass to get a complete picture of the enticing aromas of a particular wine. First, take a whiff at the top of your glass. Note what you are sensing. Now take a whiff in the lower portion of the glass. You may smell different aromas from the top of your glass then you will in the bottom. Note: If you are serving the wine “too cold” you may not smell anything until the wine warms up.

What do I mean by Dry Farmed?

“Dry farmed” is farming without irrigation. While irrigation may be used to get new vineyards started for about five years, they are eventually weaned off irrigation to survive on their own.  This type of farming produces smaller berries with a greater juice to skin ratio making for more flavorful wines.

This wine was provided as a free sample.

That is all for now.




  1. Interesting read about ‘dry farmed.’ Learn something new everyday!

  2. Rick, what a fantastic review of a fantastic wine! I can’t wait to hear what you think of their other wines! You are right.. the cab has amazing balance and finess!

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