WineSmith “Crucible” Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

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2005 WineSmith “Crucible” Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 750ml

The making of Crucible is WineSmith's pride and joy, truly a labor of love. Its tiny 90 case production is the entire focus of the winemaking team during harvest. Picked at the peak of phenolic ripeness, these small berries yield tiny volumes of intensely tannic juice packed with black fruit aromas. Crucible’s profound essence of rich blueberries is a typical expression of the Coombsville district surrounding Napa town.

Though the resulting wine possesses almost impossible density, its real allure is its regally understated aromatics which drag you into the glass, together with the refinement with which it carries its massive tannins. Its soulful “come hither” derives from the weight and finesse of its tannins, which serve to integrate its aromatics into a resonant “single voice.”

Clones 337 and 15 possess unusual characteristics uniquely suited to this cool emerging appellation. When grown in warmer parts of the Napa Valley, an early ripening habit hampers full structural expression; however in the long ripening period created by close proximity to San Pablo Bay, they express massive structure, profound color and intense dark fruit aromatics. WineSmith applied the élevage teachings of their guru Patrick Ducournau to achieve aromatic integration on a scale seldom seen, resulting in a hollow soulfulness which captivates the spirit.

The enormous dimensions of this pure Cabernet Sauvignon enabled 42 months in élevage to develop its complex flavors, which should gain depth for several decades.


Winery Retail Price: $100.00
Average Shipping:  $15.00
Woot Shipping:  (-$7.00)
Total MSRP:   $108.00

  • 100% Cabernet Sauvignon: Napa Valley College “Student Vineyard” (south Napa town)
  • Harvested: 24 October
  • Brix: 24.9
  • Pasteur Red yeast

Fermentation techniques:

  • 10 g.L Bois Frais Alliers chips
  • 34-day maceration on 30% of volume

Elevage details:

  • Eight weeks microbüllage pre ML
  • 42 months in neutral French oak
  • Alcohol sweet spot at 13.7%
  • pH 3.83 at bottling
  • Production: 90 Cases

Winery Details

WineSmith Cellars

Clark Smith
Sebastopol, CA
Clark Smith is an MIT drop-out who wandered out to California in 1972 and sold wine retail in the Bay Area for several years, where he acquired a love of Bordeaux, Burgundy and all things French and observed first hand the California winery explosion in the 1970s.  After a three year stint at Veedercrest Vineyards, he secured enology training at UC Davis and spent the 1980s as founding winemaker for The R.H. Phillips Vineyard in Yolo County.  In 1990, he founded WineSmith Consulting and patented a group of new winemaking techniques involving reverse osmosis, spinning off Vinovation, which went on to become the world’s largest wine production consulting firm over its 17-year history.
Frustrated with California’s winemaking trends, Clark started WineSmith Cellars in 1993 as a teaching winery to make Eurocentric wines to explore traditions beyond the mainstream, expanding for his winemaking clients the range of possibility for California fruit.  Choosing to create long-term partnerships with committed growers rather than growing his own grapes, Clark has become an renowned expert on Cabernet Franc, having vinified twenty vintages from a wide variety of sites. 
Teaching at Napa Valley College gave him access to the Student Vineyard for Faux Chablis and his Pauillac-style $100 “Crucible” Cabernet Sauvignon.  From Renaissance Vineyards in North Yuba County he has made a sulfite-free Roman Syrah and also produces a Pinot Noir from Fiddlestix Vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills in a delicate, age-worthy Côtes de Beaune style.  These wines are vinified in an ancient beat-up warehouse in Sebastopol, California.
WineSmith wines are noted for their longevity, classic balance, structural integrity, minerality and understated soulfulness.  They often are aged extensively prior to release.  When drinking a WineSmith wine, always ask yourself “What is this wine trying to teach me?”  Clark is a vocal advocate of living soil and graceful longevity, and generally avoids excessive oak, alcohol, or extended hang-time.  He is not shy about employing new tools when they are needed, such as alcohol adjustment to bring fruit into balance or micro-oxygenation to build refined structure, but always fully discloses techniques which are controversial and is outspoken in explaining his rationale.
His book, Postmodern Winemaking, is the culmination of four decades of reflection on wine’s true nature.


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  • 94% > one year old

Quantity Breakdown

  • 39% bought 1
  • 39% bought 2
  • 23% bought 3

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“Crucible” Napa Cabernet Sauvignon (1)
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