Highlights: Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Napa Valley

This is brilliant. Napa is often knocked for its excess: Cabernet Sauvignon wines made from grapes picked too late, spoofed up, and generally over-done, selling for hundreds of dollars a bottle. But this is a throwback to when the region made balanced wines with ageing potential. After all, it’s a great place to grow wine grapes.

Smith Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Spring Mountain, Napa Valley, California
14.3% alcohol. This is from a vineyard established in 1971 in Spring Mountain, on the site of a vineyard that was abandoned in 1919 with prohibition. This is a beautiful expression of Cabernet Sauvignon with freshness and lovely detail. Sweet berries and red cherries on the nose with some gravelly, spicy notes. There’s some oak here, but it integrates beautifully with the focused red berry fruits. There’s almost a Mediterranean herbal background to the berry fruits. So refined and balanced, this is a brilliant old-school Napa wine, with a bright future ahead of it. It’s certainly ripe, with a sweet fruit profile, but it’s nicely balanced with some nice structure. 95/100

UK agent: Roberson Wines

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