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April 17, 2014

Roger D. from Boston emailed us this note this week:

So, one of the first cases of wine I purchased was a case of your 2010 Riesling a couple years ago. I received that case in November of 2011 and finished the case by July of 2012. Looking back, I wish I had saved a couple bottles. I then ordered a few cases including the 2010 Chardonnay a little over a year ago. Easily the best chardonnay I’ve ever tasted. Just the perfect balance of everything I like in a chardonnay. Well, this past weekend I opened up a bottle of 2010 Cab which I had ordered with my friend Nick in New Jersey. I am seriously speechless. You guys only make 3 wines, which I admire because I feel some wineries get out of control with the number of varietals they try to sell. But with your 2010 vintage you have made the best Riesling, Chardonnay and Cab I have ever tasted. Not sure what went on that year but your 3 wines from the 2010 vintage are incomparable. I couldn’t believe how amazing the cab was. For a fairly recent vintage, it showed surprising maturity and smoothness. I just want to say kudos to you guys for everything you do. I have been smart enough to save some of my 2010 Chardonnay (still have 3 bottles left), and I’ll be sure to hang on to some of the 2010 Cab as well (if I don’t order more). I guess the next question is whether or not to get the 2010 Cooks Flat. Either way, thank you for everything you do, but especially for providing an outstanding 2010 vintage of your wines. I look forward to seeing you guys at some point in August or September. Thank you again and keep up the amazing work.

94 points…and a “place in the pantheon” for 2009 Cabernet

April 16, 2014

Wine Enthusiast, April 2014, Steve Heimoff
94 points, Cellar Selection
Smith-Madrone tends to fly under the radar for Napa Valley Cabernet, but discerning palates understand its place in the pantheon. Vintages aren’t always kind to this mountain fruit, but in 2009, the conditions were just right to produce a wine of immaculate structure. It has firm tannins and brisk acidity, and the flavors are classic, suggesting blackberries and cassis. As delicious as it is now, this will have no problem aging 10-15 years.

2012 Riesling’s elegance

April 8, 2014

Mike Dunne discusses the medal winners in the Riesling category in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition:
Though the Smith-Madrone has .41 percent residual sugar, it drinks dry. More telling, it was one of the more complex rieslings tasted, alternating with suggestions of tropical fruits, peaches and apples. Its elegance would put it among the First Growths of California riesling, if there were such a classification.

Catching up with Stu in Omaha

March 31, 2014

On his trip to Omaha last week, Stu sat down with Chris Brown from Platinum and here is that wide-ranging conversation:

BiggerThanYourHead tastes the 2009 Cabernet

March 29, 2014

Dark ruby color; rigorous structure with mountain roots but such a pretty surface, violets and lavender, cassis, plums and black cherries, note of licorice; stout, robust tannins and dusty oak bastions; walnut shell and underbrush; gets dustier and more austere but still scrumptious; lithic chambers of blueberries, sweet smoke, soy sauce and barbecue; iodine, iron, resonant acidity. Drink 2015 or ’16 through 2025 to ’30. Always one of Napa Valley’s best and most characterful cabernets. Excellent. About $45, representing Great Value for the Quality.

Is Smith-Madrone a ‘hidden’ winery?

March 27, 2014

So says WineCountryGetaways:

Our Choice of Hidden Wineries in the Napa Valley

Believe it or not, there are some hidden wineries in the Napa Valley. It is hard to escape the crowds when visiting the Napa Valley especially on weekends. These wineries of the Napa Valley are sure to be less touristy. Some of these wineries are open by appointment only but don’t let that discourage you. They love to have visitors and will make you feel at home.
Smith-Madrone – A throwback in time on Spring Mountain

It all started in 1971 when the Smith Brothers purchased land on Spring Mountain to begin their amazing story of making wine in the Napa Valley. You won’t find a fancy tasting room or barrel room, or any merchandise for sale. The only thing you will find is just pure, honest, old-fashioned conversation and a passion for making good wine. Yes, Smith-Madrone represents the good old days of the Napa Valley. Visitors are welcome at Smith-Madrone, but call ahead to make sure someone is there to show you around. It is a beautiful ride up Spring Mountain and even more beautiful to experience this style of the Napa Valley. The tasting room is open by appointment Monday to Saturday, 707 963 2283,

Enofylz stops by for a visit: “great wines” and more

March 26, 2014

Smith-Madrone, a family run, estate-bottled winery located in St. Helena, California was founded in 1971 by brothers Stuart and Charles Smith Smith who are the Managing Partner/Vineyard Manager, and Winemaker respectively. The name of the winery is a tribute to the Smith brothers and the predominant tree on the ranch. The Madrone is an evergreen with a red-brown trunk and branches.

When the Smith brothers purchased the 200 acre ranch in 1971, it included a vineyard that had been planted over a century before. But the forest had reclaimed much of the land. The brothers had to call in loggers to clear patches of land that would become vineyards. There remain numerous historical sights on the ranch, as well as the huge array of natural beauty and wildlife.

All their wines are produced exclusively from their 34 acres of hillside vineyards planted by the Smith brothers. The vineyard is planted to 6.25 acres of Riesling, 10.25 acres of Chardonnay and 13 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, with the Merlot, and Cabernet Franc available for blending.

The vineyard sits high atop Spring Mountain, west of St. Helena in the northern Napa Valley. The vineyards sit at elevations between 1,300 and 2,000 feet, on steep slopes which range up to 35%. My wife and I had a chance to visit the winery last month. It’s a working winery, so there’s not much there in terms of a tasting room. But what you will find are great wines, honestly produced by the Smiths, whose philosophy is to get the most out of each vintage and get it in the glass. And I don’t know about you, but I’m all about the wine, so I’d go wine tasting in a chicken coop if there were great wines to be had (No, wait…I’ve done that! ;-)

Smith Madrone offer four wines, Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a special Cook’s Flat Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. I had a chance to taste the 2012 Riesling, 2011 Chardonnay, and 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon.The wines are available for purchase at the winery or on their website. They produce about 4,000 cases/yr. The winery is open for tasting by appointment Monday-Saturday, 10 – 4:30.

 2011 Chardonnay – Pale yellow color with enticing apple, stone fruit, lemon, chalk and a hint of spice aromas. The wine shows an enticing viscosity in the glass that portends the ample mouth-feel of the wine. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, harmonious, and zesty with peach, apricot, honey, brown spice and mineral flavors. Long mouth-watering finish. Barrel-fermented and aged 8 months in 100% new French oak. 14.2% alcohol. 463 cases produced. SRP – $35 (92 pts.)

 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon – Dark ruby color with promising black cherry, cassis, blackberry, cedarwood, and a hint of cacao aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and vibrant harmonious with penetrating black cherry, cassis, mixed black and blueberry flavors, and sweet, well-integrated tannins. Long finish. Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 84%, Merlot 8% & Cabernet franc 8%. 13.9% alcohol. Aged 22 months in new American white oak barrels. This is a wine that’s drinking well now, but will continue to favorably evolve over the next 10-15 years. And it’s the best values you’ll find in Cab at $45! (91 pts.)

 2012 Riesling – Very pale slightly green tinged straw color with appealing stone fruit, apple lime, wet stone, and a hint of lychee aromas. On the palate it approaches medium-bodied and is dry, clean, focused, and well-structured with tart apple, peach, lime, and mineral flavors. Long persistent finish. 12.5% alcohol. 798 cases produced. Made from 40-year-old vines. SRP – $27. My favorite American Riesling. It’s drinking well now, but Riesling can be aged for decades, and you can keep yourself from drinking it, you’ll be rewarded! (91 pts.)

All the wines were simply outstanding. Highly recommended. And I heartily recommend a visit too. The property is amazing (with breathtaking views on clear days), the Smiths are gracious, and knowledgeable hosts. A good time will be had!