The 2011 Riesling has been graced with a Critics’ Silver Medal at the 10th Annual Critics’ Challenge International Wine Competition, which took place in San Diego on June 22 and 23. Our thanks to Robert Whitley and his team of judges and staff.
More about the competition at http://www.criticschallenge.com/ .
Cortney Roudebush at SipSwirlSavor considers the 2011 Riesling:
Refreshing Summertime Sippers
Summertime is my favorite time of year. As the temperature rises, I am more inclined to reach for something chilled and refreshing. Here are a few options to help keep you cool…
2011 Smith-Madrone Riesling: If something light and fruity is what you’re seeking, this Riesling from the SpringMountain district is it. With a lower alcohol content (12.6%) and brilliant acidity, the stone fruit flavors explode on the palate. With less than 1% residual sugar, it is technically a dry wine and delicious at lunchtime.
Smith-Madrone Winery was founded on Napa’s Spring Mountain in 1971 by Stuart Smith and currently produces about 4,000 cases a year. Despite having heard of this venerable Napa producer, looking back over my notes I’ve never actually tried any of their wines. I had always assumed that Madrone was the other half of a partnership, but it turns out to be the most common tree on the property. The beautiful flat leaf evergreen is featured on the label.
Fredric Koeppel taught me to always pay close attention to the mountain sub-appellations of Napa, and they’ve never let me down. These wines come from the Spring Mountain District AVA in the Mayacamas Mountains near St. Helena.
2011 Riesling: Starting in 1983, they stopped calling this wine Johannisberg Riesling and simply sold it as Riesling. It’s always interesting to go back and look at labels from the 70s and 80s–not that long ago–and you’ll see some slightly unusual grape names, like “Pinot Chardonnay”. This Riesling has a crisp green apple aroma and flavor. Bright acidity but light and dry. A perfect summertime sipper, and highly recommended for picnics.
2010 Chardonnay: Lots of buttered popcorn on the nose of this classic California Chardonnay. Bold oak structure and an underlying flavor of ripe apricot. Long, lingering finish. This one would be perfect with a quarter of a roast chicken and fingerling potatoes with lots of sea salt. 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon: On the very first sniff I got a lot of pyrazine, that molecule that gives the aroma of tomato leaves and tobacco. I love that scent, and after more swirling the wine opened up with deeper black cherry and leather aromas. On the palate it is full of dark fruit and medium tannins, leaving a long and savory finish. Well-aged and ready to drink now, though it could easily go for a few more years. Strongly recommended with rack of lamb and a cherry reduction sauce.
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Blogger Christy Canterbury reported on Napa mountain wines in a report on Tim Atkin’s website on April 19. Here are her thoughts on the 2011 Riesling:
92 pts: Without question, this is the best Riesling from Napa I have tasted to date. Aromatically compelling with delicate and multi-dimensional aromas of petrol, white peach and apricots-and-cream ice cream, this wine is highly structured by its piercing acidity. A sophisticated Riesling to seek out with great urgency! Drink: 2013-16.
The Riesling is the best American Riesling I’ve had.
2011 Smith-Madrone Riesling: Spring Mountain District: Pale golden yellow color with peach apricot, mineral and a hint of lychee aromas. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied, and dry with fresh peach, mineral, and a hint of citrus rind flavors. Medium-long finish; 12.6% alcohol. 521 cases produced (90 pts.)
Our thanks to WineTalk for these kind words about the 2011 Riesling:
If you are looking for an exceptional Riesling, that delivers fruit and acidity in perfect balance that this is a wine for you. Starting with a mineral cleanness on the nose, and additional hints of green apple, your mouth will start watering for the first sip. In the mouth there is a terrific bouquet of lime and citrus zest, stone fruit, and green apple. The finish allows the more acidic flavors of the fruit linger, but these are kept in check by a soft creaminess. The acid and fruit balance perfectly, making what I think is one of the finest Rieslings coming out of California. We enjoyed the wine served with a cream lime Thai curry sauce. The heat of the dish and acidity and fruit in the wine made for a perfect meal.
One of the last Napa Riesling vineyards…and it’s a good one. Beautifully dry, offering a bouquet of citrus and pineapple with subtle notes of white peach. Crisp and clean on the palate with flavors of pineapple and citrus with intriguing hints of green apple and terroir-centric minerality. Perfect food pairing acidity. Try lighter spicy fare…Was divine with our spicy lemon shrimp.
Sometimes, you just want some clam chowder…I’ve been eyeing some Smith-Madrone…Founded in 1971, Smith-Madrone only makes wine from their Spring Mountain District estate vineyards. The 2011 Riesling rolls in at 12.6% alcohol, and has just a touch of residual sugar (0.70%). Color: Pale yellow with a golden tint to it. Nose: There are massive amounts of green apples on this nose. There’s a good balance of lemon and minerals with a hint of peach skin. Taste: In spite of the touch of residual sugar, this wine is quite dry. This wine has big acidity on the palate. Green apples are the core of this wine. Flavors of lychee, apple skin, lemon, lime, petrol, and rubber balls play very well together. Score: This is a pretty tasty wine. Let’s try it with the soup…Originally, I was thinking about drinking a Chardonnay with the clam chowder. I figured the creaminess of the soup would work well with the creaminess of the Chardonnay. Now here’s the crazy thing… When I tried the soup with the wine, the acid of the Riesling played well with the fat in the chowder. What I’m left with is a really nice flavor of creamy lemon custard. Essentially, the chowder made the Riesling taste like a Chardonnay! Riesling and clam chowder… What a great pair!
92 points. Lots of apple fruit here. This smells like an apple barn laced with fine mineral and herbal suggestions. In the mouth there is an early dried apple note followed by lime fruit across a mid palate that is dry, firm, crisp and mineral-laced with plenty of steely acid driving the almost green plum fruit through the finish. Nicely perfumed in the mouth with a lingering note of green apple on the long finish. Youthful, snappy and focused with just enough sugar to add a soft buffering veneer to the acids.
March 7, 2013 by Gregory Dal Piaz
The Smith-Madrone 2011 Riesling was produced from estate fruit sourced on the winery’s home ranch on Spring Mountain. The vines these grapes came from are 39 years old. This is a 100 percent varietal wine. There were 521 cases produced and it has a suggested retail price of $27. Hints of hazelnut, stone fruits and bits of lemon zest are apparent on the nose of this Riesling. The palate here is both gentle and deeply layered with complex flavors. White peach, lychee fruit and white pepper are in evidence and carry through to the finish, which is crisp and clean with impressive persistence. This lovely, dry Riesling is amazingly fresh and lively. It’s beautiful and delicious all by itself, but will also pair well with light foods. This well-proportioned wine will age well and improve under proper storage conditions for more than a decade.
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