Slow Wine Guide takes a look

From Slow Wine Guide, published in January 2018:


Brothers Stu and Charles Smith arrived on Spring Mountain in 1971, when it was mostly still uninhabited though they soon discovered that the site that would become Smith-Madrone was planted to vineyards prior to Prohibition. More than 40 years later, theirs is still a two-man operation, with Stu overseeing viticulture and Charles running the winery. Total annual production hovers around 5,000 cases.

VINEYARDS: Ranging in altitude from about 1,200 to 2,000 feet and planted on steep pitches, the dry-farmed Smith-Madrone span 34 acres in various stages of production. The soils here are the Spring Mountain mix of volcanic and sedimentary rock, and the varietal mix includes 6 acres of Riesling, 10 acres of Chardonnay, 13 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and small amounts of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. A majority of these vineyards exceed 40 years of age, and it shows in the profundity of the wines.

WINES: The Smith-Madrone line-up, and especially the Cabernet Sauvignon, leave no doubt that they have been crafted from old-vine, mountain grown fruit.

GREAT WINE: The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is a big, brooding wine with concentrated black and blue fruits framed by iron-shaving tannins and subtle oak spice (and, it should be noted, this powerful red easily outperforms Cabernets twice and three times its price).

The 2015 Chardonnay is 100% barrel-fermented and aged in new oak, boasting deep apple and pear fruit, a creamy texture and refreshing acidity.

The 2014 Riesling is a structured, unoaked, bone-dry expression of white peach, citrus and wildflowers underpinned by wet-stone minerality and bracing acidity. It, like the Cabernet, has shown a capacity for long aging.

Author: corkingnapa

Julie Ann Kodmur is a second-generation Californian who was born in San Francisco and grew up in La Jolla. As an eighth grader she was the runner-up in the state spelling bee. She’s lived in Italy and New York and now lives in the Napa Valley with her family. She is a marketing and publicity consultant in the wine industry. Her business life can be seen at This is the home for the overflow. The ‘title’ is a reference to a sculpture honoring an Argentinean journalist who practiced his craft in the 1930s before literally dying for his words. No such drama here, just hopefully some provocative fun.

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