Old-School Napa Formula

Nearly impenetrable ruby with miniscule pink edges.  Intense mint and sharp rock gradually develop into one of the most-lusciously-fruited 2014’s in memory.  A teensy peek at oak and leather pops in blissfully mid-breath, sandwiched between the alpine conifer and rich, sweet, stirrable, fruit-at-the-bottom cherry yogurt–a butter-fat base with solid blocks of deep, dark fruit, potential tertiary, and pungent spice.

So many young cabs!  I love drinking them with a few years on them, but almost equally I enjoy feeling them out blisteringly young.  Often,  I am disappointed by vapidity or overt structure in a young cab.  Too many people believe the-bigger-the-better and well-meaningly espouse the popular theory that the more tannin and obfuscation of all else there is in a Cabernet, the better it will age.  This is completely false.  There HAS to be fruit.  Just remember that and barrel-tasting and futures-tasting will be a breeze.  THERE HAS TO BE FRUIT.  Fruit HAS to be IN the wine–even when young.  Fruit doesn’t just magically appear as a wine ages.  It doesn’t just pop up out of nowhere when a cab reaches a certain age. It has to be IN THERE from Day 1. The main reason to taste Cab young is the opportunity to purchase more of a REALLY GOOD ONE, and this one is seriously fueling that joy.

In the mouth, all that pretty fruit is piled all over the entry, attempting to block the wiry tannins from obliterating everything.  The sheer quantity and quality of the fruit is capable of this task, but only for a short period. Your mind has barely come to grips with the intensity and richness of the succulent ripe cherry and blackberry before green shards of cinnamon and cardamon-tipped tannins worm their way in.  They grow to a perfect earthy-bitter plateau and take a balanced bow to thinness, allowing huge leathery smears of fruit to play out long into the finish.

This wine is just mind-numbingly brilliant, and one you are SO GLAD you tried young.  Buy two cases and drink one a year. I would say buy 3 cases and drink one a year, but I haven’t read a critic advising a wine be held for 36 years in quite some time.  Still, I think this one could do it.  I haven’t drank a huge amount of 2014 cab this year, but this one definitely stands out.

This bottle is a testament to dry-farmed, mountain fruit and a leaner, lower-alcohol profile in Napa Valley Cabernet, and I am always thrilled when I discover wines being made in this style.

2014 SMITH-MADRONE Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mt. Napa Valley 13.9


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