Rick Dean considers the 2015 Chardonnay at http://strongcoffeetoredwine.com/smith-madrone-chardonnay/ :
Much like the Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon that I wrote about previously, the winemakers at Smith-Madrone are making a wine that confounds the conventional style most associated with Napa Valley Chard. You know, that viscous, chewy, oaky and buttery style Chardonnay that folks either love or hate. Well, that is NOT this white wine. Make no mistake there is oak, as it spends ten months in 80% new French Oak barrels. But the oakiness of this wine is so well balanced with the other notes you will detect in this wine. This wine is elegant, expressive, and terroir*- (aka place) driven.
The Taste: As I lift the glass to my face to catch my first sniff, I am caught by the beautiful golden yellow color of this wine. As the wine reaches for the edges of the glass the intensity of the color fades to what I would call a mellow yellow. With my first whiff, I am flush with the smell of Golden Delicious (yellow) apples. This is not an apple I generally eat, but I am loving this note in this wine. Secondary notes of lemon rind also bounce around the glass.
As I take my first sip I am refreshed by the lightness and freshness of the acidity in this wine. Yellow apple jumps out as the primary flavor I detect. Secondarily comes the oak and a citrus medley of lemon and lime.
The contradiction continues as I continue to enjoy this wine. This wine is easy to drink and complex. There is a richness and a brightness that play on the scale that allows these features to rise and fall in your mouth.
Through Stress Comes Complexity: Complexity in wine comes from the struggle that the vines lived through during the growth of its fruit. As with all the Smith-Madrone wines, the Chardonnay is dry-farmed but had a torrent of weather activity that affected uniqueness of this wine. First, was the mild winter that caused for an early bud break*. This was followed by a cool Spring which caused a long blooming period that contributed to smaller grape clusters and variable berry size. The early blooms ripened too soon which caused a huge shatter* of that fruit. Finally, the harvest was interrupted by over 2 weeks because of huge amounts of rain.
As bad as it all sounds, all of these factors contributed to the development of this wine. Add in the high-quality winemaking skills of the Smith family and you end up with a wine that confounds and pleases. Thanks, Mother Nature and Thanks Mr.’s Smith!