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Seriously cool and historic are we

April 4, 2017

Owen Bargreen tastes two current releases:

A seriously cool and historic Napa estate, Smith-Madrone wines are sourced from the winery’s dry-farmed estate vineyards surrounding the winery on top of Spring Mountain in the Napa Valley. Stuart Smith chose specific slopes with different exposures for specific varietals when planting the vineyards: eastern exposure for Riesling, southern and western exposures across flat stretches for the Cabernet Sauvignon and the coolest north-facing slopes for the Chardonnay. The soil is mostly deep-red Aiken Stoney Clay loam, and is primarily volcanic-based, well-drained and deep for mountain soils. The estate is a 200 acre ranch, partly planted as vineyard over a century ago. California black bears and other wildlife once thrived here as did 120-year-old Picholine olive trees which frame a path and view down to the floor of the Napa Valley.

I recently had the chance to review the wines from this historic estate in Napa and was hugely impressed with the quality of wines from the warm vintages of 2013 and 2014. The 2013 Smith-Madrone Cabernet (WWB, 93) in particular, showed wonderful terroir, aromatic range and Napa character. While delicious now, this wine will have a long life in the cellar. Learn more about these fantastic wines at

2014 Smith-Madrone Riesling- This high elevation Riesling wine shows brisk acidity considering the heat of the vintage. Aromatically subdued at first when needing a one hour decant, this wine begins with a bouquet of white roses, honeysuckle, unripe pear and petrol. There are deep flavors of Gravenstein apple, unripe honeydew melon, lemon rind and a touch of green papaya. This has lovely astringency and structure, as this currently displays an almost unctuous mouthfeel. Drink 2017-2022- 92

2013 Smith-Madrone Cabernet- This gorgeous wine begins with aromatics of violets, black cherry, creme de cassis, black olive tapenade and suggestions of baking spices. Tannic and rich, this wine has flavors of coffee grounds, creme de cassis, cigar box, dark chocolate shavings and boysenberry liquor. Dense, tightly wound and intense come to mind when savoring this lovely Cabernet. The mouthfeel is gorgeous, showing beautiful texture and structure. Try to give this lovely wine another year for the fruit to fully amalgamate. Drink 2018-2030- 93






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