Consistency Counts: Smith-Madrone Cabernet

Signs of summer are spreading across much of the country, which means a swapping out of cuisines in favor of summer fare. For whites, this means porch quaffers that won't weigh you down; sauvignon blanc, Alsatian whites, pinot grigio, and so on. For reds, a shift towards more fruit forward wines that will stand up to the char flavors of grilled food; zinfandels, grenaches, shiraz, etc.

But there's still time to sneak in a few more meals in this springtime shoulder season where a more nuanced approach to cabernet will fit nicely. The 2019 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain ($65) is one wine that can do the trick, and which remains remarkably consistent year to year, and is an anomalous value in the context of Napa Valley. Pair it with a marinated cut of lean beef and a lightly-dressed, hearty salad with some crunch to it. Alchemy.

This wine has terrific clarity despite its very deep burgundy color. Classic Spring Mountain aromas emerge, including dark fruit, pencil graphite, forest floor, and a whisper of conifer needles. The texture strikes the mouth first: fine tailoring around a poised structure of blue-tinged fruit, subtle oak, and regal acidity. Medium density and medium body, the restraint here allows grace and elegance to shine through more easily. Very enjoyable now, but would love to meet this wine again in 10, 20, and 30 years.