This one’s gonna need a bit of a decant, a fact ridiculously obvious from first sniff. Normally–even with young cabs requiring air–I begin formulating my review–or even writing it–from first pop, but allow things to evolve before solidifying my analysis on paper. But this one. Oh boy. Just clamshell-tight. Which seems odd from a vintage WS gave 99 points, because… well… I don’t have to explain the general *style* of vintages that get 99 points from major mags since about 2000. But this bottle has NONE of the shallow trademarks typically associated with “vintages of the decade”–probably attributable to the way Smith-Madrone MAKE their cabs. The way I like them. Old-skool. So I’ll be back in an hour or so. Don’t click around.
The best thing about sampling cabs like this is feeling their perfection at an almost-un-enjoyable age and projecting the things you KNOW will happen with a decade or more of rest. Dark, dense ruby in the glass–nearly impenetrable and non-staining. Tobacco and wet leaves form a black-tea bouquet headily tinged with damp volcanic and barky smolder. The amber vegetal is sultry and crazed with tender bramble and shy revelations. Crimson bottomless cherry gradually evolves, encrusting all in glorious ripe fruit hiding in the wings.
Tasting it takes you back to the near barrel-sample viscosity of this infant. Sure: you can enjoy it now–many will, probably MOST will–as the perfect balance coats all regions of the palate. Light and piercing on entry, it gathers momentum instantly, hammering the senses with fruit, grip and structure. Blackberry and pomegranate seared with acid, an achingly dry tincture of briary tannin never quite overwhelming the mouthfeel, but powerful enough to cause pause. Mountain-stream cool and refreshing over the middle, green bristles of tannin again presenting a rasp of elegant ire. Not a drip of slutty fruit or alcoholic heat ANYWHERE. And throughout: acerbic berry pounds a mantra of beauty to come. So be patient with this one. This wine will outlive YOU. The kind of Napa Cab that makes you proud: built stunningly perfect without stooping to the lavish early lusts of the Parker set.
Buy two cases; drink one every-other year. Yes, that’s FORTY EIGHT years.
2018 SMITH-MADRONE Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mt. Napa Valley 14.3