Wines of the Week: Smith-Madrone Uncorked


"You can crash my car, You can strip my break, You can make me holler, But don't forget to make me shake" ~ Les Paul and Friends, Beth Hart


There's no doubt I'm a fan of substance, soul, and terroir driven wines. There's also no doubt that I'm a huge fan of the blues. Beth Hart delivers a performance, that will not only make you holler, it will also make you shake. I'm also a big fan of mountain wines from the Napa Valley, like the two pictured above from the Spring Mountain District. I've been wanting to sample Smith-Madrone for quite some time now, since the day when I was the Wine Steward for the Vons in La Jolla, continuing to offer this wine to the customer base I built.

Smith-Madrone, founded in the early seventies, is a small production winery, making just about 4000 cases or so each year. The pioneers of dry-farming, all wines produced are estate grown and are estate bottled. SM is a 200-acre ranch in the Spring Mountain District. They can be found in the Saint Helena zip code, in the Spring Mountain District, with vineyards found at elevations of 1300 feet and 2000 feet. All tasting are by appointment only and are limited to just a few folks each available day, tours are hosted by a member of the Smith family.Their wines can be purchased via DTC, they're found in a few select top tier wine shops, and chain stores via their distributor Maddalena Vineyard Brands. I'll have to visit the next time I'm in town, it looks amazing.

Smith-Madrone Riesling 2014: The vines are grown on Eastern exposures, honoring the international steep slope tradition. The age of the vines is 42 years, very mature, giving outstanding depth and complexity, in my opinion, not achievable by vines in their early leaf years. If you're interested in purchasing this wine, I'd look to find it via their website, while 2014 is their current release, older vintages may possibly be available. I found the color in the glass to be light, slightly greenish to yellow hay, clear clarity. The aromas were, aromatic and delivered the classic Riesling characteristics. A good amount of petrol, a bit carbonated, stone fruits like apricot, lime rind, wet stone, and white peach, flesh. The taste was a bit off-dry, tho the acidity was crisp, the body was medium and the tannins were moderate, well-integrated. On the palate, kiwi slices, grated lime rind, wet stone minerality, stone fruits, apricot, peach, and nectarine. The finish was long and persistent. I would recommend this wine, especially those seeking to pair this wine with spicy cuisines, like Thai food or just as a great summertime wine to pair with light cuisine. This wine is recommended, my score, 90 points.

Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon 2013: The Cabernet Sauvignon vines are grown across southern and western exposures, 1800 foot elevation, 40 plus-year-old vines. This wine sporting a left-bank a blend, 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, and the balance is Merlot. In a few words, this wine is a masterpiece of winemaking and terroir-driven distinction. Solidly a wine you could lay down for the long-term, but immediate enjoyment is within reach, with just a few years in the bottle. Based on my many tasting experiences since 2008, I don't believe you could really produce a wine much better than this, this 2013 is rock solid juice. This may sound cliche, but honestly, this wine is one spectacular ride to tasty town; one where you'll be quite sad once the last drop has fallen from the bottle.

Even though I had sampled this wine over a couple of days, then spit, to get the full feel of this wine, it held up beautifully. While this wine was not initially decanted, however, I'd recommend decanting to fully enjoy all this wine's generous charms, which I did on the second day after the first pour and evaluation. Soul and substance in spades.Nothing but silk, lush but not ripe, structured but not rigid, this wine is like a painting, it takes time for it to evolve in the glass. It could still easily go another 10 years if you wanted to lay it down for a few more years. This wine had unbelievable depth and elegance, like so few wines, do. The finish is long and lasting. So yes, in this case, this wine is well worth the price of admission. This wine is highly recommended, my score is 94 points
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The next time you find yourself in the Napa Valley, you should make a point to discover the wonderful Mountain appellations like Spring Mountain, and their neighboring Diamond Mountain and of course what would a mountain-top experience be like without making an appointment with a few producers on Howell Mountain as well. Once you visit of any these AVA's you may find it hard to go back to the wineries who simply dwell in the valley. Until next time folks, sip long and prosper cheers!

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