Press-Democrat recommends Riesling

Peg Melnik in the November 25 Santa Rosa Press-Democrat gives the 2013 Riesling 4 stars (Highly Recommended) and says:

This riesling has great minerality and gorgeous stone fruit of apricot and peach, with lime in the mix. No question, it will pair exceptionally well with the rich foods at your feast.


Consider Riesling for Thanksgiving


The Wine Knitter in New York discusses the 2013 Riesling:

The other evening a friend and I shared a bottle of 2013 Smith-Madrone Riesling from the Spring Mountain District of Napa.  This 100% Riesling is 12.6% alcohol and comes from Stu and Charles Smith’s 42-year-old vines.  This pale yellow wine is vibrant with lively acidity and is quite refreshing.  Aromas of stone fruit, apples, honeysuckle and a hint of grapefruit were present.  The palate was a feast of lime, apricot, honeysuckle, citrus notes and a hint of spice.  The finish was long with a creaminess lingering on the palate.  I wouldn’t hesitate to serve this at Thanksgiving!

Riesling is ‘sassy and edgy’ in a group tasting

Ellen Landis wrote about a tasting of Rieslings from many regions:

Wine writers joined up recently for our “Judgment of Geyserville II” blind tasting.   This year’s focus was Riesling from AVAs located in California, Michigan, British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and New York.   As you might imagine, there was a good measure of stone fruit, minerality and lively acidity tickling our palates.   Yet each wine also unveiled its own uniqueness, and a sense of place was often recognized.  My impressions below are listed in the random order in which the wines were arranged for this blind tasting:

Smith Madrone Vineyards & Winery 2013 Riesling:  A bit restrained on the nose initially, minerality peeks through after aeration.   Granny Smith apples and sweet citrus fruit unfold in the mouth with lemon taffy, freshly squeezed lime and orange rind flavors playing off one another.  This is a sassy, edgy Riesling with liberal acidity from start to finish.

We blow the socks off of TheArmchairSommelier

The ArmchairSommelier took a look at our current releases: please read the entire report (bottles in the snow, Chicken Marbella and more)

But here are a few highlights:

Brothers Stu and Charlie Smith founded Smith-Madrone Winery (in the Spring Mountain District of Napa Valley) in 1971 — that’s some serious longevity.  If your winery has been open for 44 years, you’re doing something right.

Riesling 2013: 92 points: 100% Riesling.  Easily one of the best US Rieslings I’ve tasted of late.  So many American Rieslings succumb to the off-dry siren song (and end up being cloying), but not this one.  This one is gloriously dry with teeth-twinging acidity and precise balance. Pale golden hue.  Nose is chalk and minerals with a passing whiff of grapefruit.  Flavors of peach and green apple.  Acid lovers of the wine world — this one’s for you!  Retail price = $27 (and worth every penny).

Chardonnay 2012: 92 points:  100% Chardonnay.  Fermented in new French oak for 8 months.  Pale amber color.  The nose is somewhat restrained — some faint buttered toast and pears.  Lean and elegant, with superb acidity and a graceful oak presence.  Definitely more to an old world style than new.  Creamy mouthfeel with flavors of lemon curd and allspice, I feel like I’m drinking a lemon meringue pie. Finishes with a wedge of minerals that goes on for a minute (which is as long as I could wait before having another sip).  Retail price = $32 (bargain alert!).

Cabernet Sauvignon 2011:  92 points: 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 7% Merlot.  Aged for 19 months in French oak.  Lovely garnet color.  Nose is all funk (I’m Team Funk, so this makes me giddy) — white pepper, leather, tar, cedar.  Shows great restraint and finesse.  Fruit definitely takes a back seat to funk (I’m struggling to come up with a dominant fruit note).  I’m thinking currants in a cigar box.  Great balance with layers of complexity.  A massive finish.  Retail price = $48 (a massive bargain — I’ve had Napa Cabernets that weren’t this good at twice the price).

I’ve been told (more than once) that I’m a little stingy with my wine ratings.  I certainly don’t mean to be stingy, just honest.  If I rate a wine 90+ points, it’s because it was memorable — it blew my socks off, and I didn’t want the bottle to end.

Smith-Madrone . . . consider my socks blown off!

All three of these wines are a textbook study in the expressions of cool climate, mountain terroir.  They’re lean, restrained, and focused.  I’ll admit to pushing Napa Valley wines (especially Napa Chardonnay) to the back of my wine bus as too much for too much (a little over-done and more than a little over-priced).  But after tasting these wines, I think I’ve found my Napa sweet spot — the mountains!

92 points and more from Bacchus & Beery for the 2013 Riesling

In their March 5 blog post, Bacchus & Beery reviews the 2013 Riesling:

Think dry…Think crisp…Think refreshing… A beautiful dry Riesling from one of the few Riesling vineyards left in Napa Valley. Aromas of citrus, honeycomb, pear, honeysuckle and wet stone minerality. A soft mouth-feel with food pairing acidity accentuates flavors of pear, green apple, white peach, honeysuckle, honeycomb and creamy vanilla. Notes of honeysuckle become more apparent as the wine opens. This wine pairs with a wide variety of foods from lighter summer fare to roasted chicken.

2013 Riesling is highly recommended

In writing about wines to try this year in his syndicated column, Fred Tasker suggests the 2013 Riesling:

Highly recommended: light and lively, very dry, with aromas and flavors of ripe peaches, green melons and minerals; many consider riesling the world’s noblest grape; Americans just don’t know much about it.

We’re paired with The Eagles! Thank you, Rockin Red!


By Michelle Williams, Rockin Red blog, January 19, 2015

Better late than never; isn’t that what they say. In late fall I received a sample shipments of three wines from Smith-Madrone. I actually did not realize it was that long ago until I recovered the information sent with the wines. Wow, time flies! Through my own lack of diligence these wines ended up behind other samples I have received in the past few months. I began in mid-December and continue to work through a large gathering of wonderful wine media samples I have been trusted to taste and review. I wish I could say I was “aging” these wines from Smith-Madrone but truthfully, I just simply had not made it through the sample pile, till now! You know “Good things come to those who wait!” Good indeed! Thank you Smith-Madrone for sharing your outstanding wines with me!

Now it is January and for me that means getting my healthy eating back on track. I am not one for “dry” January, but I do scale back a bit, try to eat pretty clean, exercise harder, drink lots of water; you know the routine, you may even be doing it too. Therefore, January provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate high quality wine pairs very well with simply, healthy meals just as well as it does more elaborate dinners.

Smith-Madrone 2013 Riesling: This wine poured a soft golden yellow in the glass and opened with beautiful aromas of stone fruit, tropical fruit, crisp minerality and a touch of fresh cut grass. On the palate this beautifully balanced dry Riesling delivered round flavors of apricot, peach, Asian pear, Korean melon, with a touch of honey, all layered on top of a firm minerality foundation. It was crisp, smooth and just the right amount of dryness to make my mouth water upon swallowing. It had a lingering finish and full mouth-feel. I am a HUGE Riesling lover and this was a good Riesling! This 100% Riesling was made from 41 year old vines in Napa Valley in the Spring Mountain District by brothers Charles and Stuart Smith. It contained 12.6% alcohol; 1288 cases produced. SRP $27; order direct from Smith-Madrone.  I recommend this wine!

Riesling is the most versatile food wine in the world and pairs well with just about all foods. I paired this Riesling with a delicious light dinner from Giada de Laurentiis’ Giada’s Feel Good Food cook book: Chicken and honey mustard pinwheels. It is a crisp, clean meal of homemade honey mustard, shredded rotisserie chicken breasts and arugula wrapped in lavash bread. This light and easy sandwich paired beautifully with the Riesling; the peppery arugula mixed with the sweet and savory homemade honey mustard was well balanced by the round crisp flavors and body of the Riesling.

*Smith-Madrone is the ONLY dry Riesling from North America featured in Stuart Pigott’s book Best White Wine on Earth, The Riesling Story! That is quite an honor! Click here to read an excerpt.

Smith-Madrone 2012 Chardonnay: This wine poured a straw yellow into the glass and opened with rich aromas of toasted oak, cedar, minerals, and orchard fruit. On the palate this Chardonnay delivered powerful flavors of oak, slightly burnt-buttered toast, with Granny Smith apples, pears and crushed stone. It was certainly not a big fruit, buttery Chardonnay; rather, it was very earthy and driven with minerals and oak. It was round on the palate with a ripe acidity and elegant dryness on the finish. From my experience it tasted more like the Willamette Valley Chardonnays I have enjoyed rather than many of the over-done Napa Valley Chardonnays.  This 100% Chardonnay was produced from 39 year old vines in Napa Valley in the Spring Mountain District by brothers Charles and Stuart Smith. It was 100% barrel fermented in 100% new French oak for 8 months, contained 14.2% alcohol; 779 cases produced. SRP $32; order direct from Smith-Madrone. I recommend this wine to all of you who, like me, prefer a well-crafted, less fruity, not buttery, Chardonnay.

I paired this Chardonnay with a homemade healthy salad consisting of: mixed salad greens topped with quinoa, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, chopped almonds and rotisserie chicken with a homemade EVOO/Balsamic vinegar dressing. The toasted, nutty flavor of the quinoa really pulled the salad/wine pairing together. It was a nice weeknight meal.

Smith-Madrone 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon: This wine poured a lovely red garnet into the glass and opened with seductive aromas of dark fruit, smoke, and mocha. On the palate those aromas delivery in dazzling flavors of blackberry, black plums and black cherries with a hint of cola, leather cigar box, and smoke with rich dark chocolate, espresso and a hint of vanilla left lingering on the palate. It is a ripe, round wine that delivers ripe acidity and well-crafted tannins that linger on the palate giving this wine a long finish. This wine is drinking beautifully right now; however, I can only image the wonderful gift time will bestow on this wine! This wine was crafted of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 % Cabernet Franc and 7% Merlot from 39 year old vines in Napa Valley in the Spring Mountain District by brothers Charles and Stuart Smith. This wine was aged for 19 months in French oak barrels; contained 14.3% alcohol; 1,070 cases produced. SRP $48; order direct from Smith-Madrone. I recommend this wine; in fact, I recommend you purchase several bottles and hide them in your cellar for 10ish years, after you drink one now of course!

I paired this wine with a weeknight Greek dish: lamb meatballs with mint and feta on top of fresh pita bread and covered with tzaki sauce, served with cucumber, tomato and purple onion salad mixed with EVOO and Red wine vinegar. It was a quick, easy and delicious weeknight meal. The wine paired beautifully with lamb while allowing the delicate flavors of the veggie salad to shine; not being overpowered by this big Cabernet.  It was a great meal and a great pairing!

Smith-Madrone wines are literally the definition of ‘estate’ – they are all grown literally a stone’s throw from the winery, primarily dry-farmed, planted on steep slopes which range up to 34%, in red Aiken soil which is derived from weathered volcanic materials and sedimentary rock. Smith-Madrone is perched almost at the top of the Spring Mountain District appellation, 1400 to 1900 feet at the highest point.

From the Smith-Madrone web site: At Smith-Madrone our goal is to make artisanal wines which are distinctive and are an expression of both the vintage and us, as vintners, but above all else, are wines which bring pleasure to the senses. Every year our wine is made from the same vineyards, pruned by the same people in the same way, cultivated in exactly the same manner and harvested at similar levels of maturity, yet Mother Nature stamps each vintage with a unique set of flavors, senses and character. Vintage dating is a celebration of that uniqueness and diversity.

I strongly encourage you to visit the Smith-Madrone web site to learn more about Charles and Stuart, see their beautiful winery, and view their entire portfolio of wines.

My Song Selection: The song I have chosen to pair with these three Smith-Madrone wines is Take it Easy by The Eagles. When I read the philosophy of Smith-Madrone, the environment where they grow their vines, and the bios on Stuart and Charles it seems to me these two men are dedicated to loving life and making great wine. They don’t seem stressed or uptight; just relaxed and blessed…and it shows in the high quality of the wines they are perennially producing.

Get your own bottles of Smith-Madrone Riesling, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon and let me know what song you would pair with them. Cheers!

2013 Riesling pairs with fried chicken in the February issue of Sunset Magazine

In the February 2015 issue of Sunset Magazine, wine writer Sara Schneider writes about “Wines with soul: what to pair with the southern food that’s storming western menus.”

With Southern fried chicken, she says: “Pick Riesling: Lively acidity counters the chicken’s battered richness, while aromatic fruit—even in the fairly dry Riesling here—handles the heat.


Smith-Madrone 2013 Riesling: Bright acidity carries green apple, white peach, honeysuckle and minerals, with the tiniest touch of sweetness.”

2013 Riesling is light and lively, according to Fred Tasker

Fred Tasker suggests that you “resolve to try some new wines this year,” and recommends the 2013 Riesling as a contender:

“light and lively, very dry, with aromas and flavors of ripe peaches, green melons and minerals; many consider riesling the world’s noblest grape; Americans just don’t know much about it.”

January 20, 2015, Sacramento Bee,

Vinography on the 2013 Riesling: “continues to vie for being one of the top Rieslings made in California”

Vinography reviewed the 2013 Riesling:

Pale blonde in the glass, this wine smells of wet stones, green apple, and white flowers. In the mouth zippy flavors of green apple, lemon juice, and asian pears have a crisp brightness to them and just the faintest hint of yeasty sweetness. Continues to vie for being one of the top Rieslings made in California. 12.6% alcohol. 1288 cases produced.