Sips: From Napa, Smith-Madrone’s 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon

Charles and Stuart Smith do something unusual with their Smith-Madrone cabernet sauvignon. They hold it for several years before release, effectively pre-aging the wines. While most Napa and other California wineries are now releasing 2010 and even 2011 cabs, Smith-Madrone is still selling its 2006, which can be held for many more years but is drinking nicely right now.

This is a sophisticated and elegant cab grown in volcanic soils on the steep slopes of Spring Mountain at an elevation of almost 2,000 feet. The vineyard is dry farmed, meaning that it’s not irrigated. All of this is a recipe for complexity, which Smith-Madrone’s 2006 Cabernet is loaded with.

One is struck first by its earthiness, and minerality, which punctuate the dark fruit tastes, especially black currant and black cherry. The fruit is accented by fennel seed, unsweetened chocolate and leather notes and is supported by a good deal of acidity. The $40 wine was aged for 22 months in new American oak barrels. The blend is 85 percent cabernet sauvignon, nine percent cabernet franc and six percent merlot. Alcohol is 14.1 percent. Smith-Madrone also makes two white wines, a chardonnay and a superb riesling, which are also worth seeking out. Wine received as a press sample.

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