Our Rosé: perfect for summer evenings

Summer Evening from Spring Mountain

Happy summer! Cheers to BBQs, beaches and wine with friends!

The perfect wine for your summer fun just might be our 2021 Rosé.

It’s only the third time we’ve made a Rosé. You won’t see it on restaurant or retail shelves; it’s only available at the winery and from our website.

Winemaker Charlie Smith describes this special rosé:

It’s an extravagant, piercing color – such a vibrant pink it’s practically radioactive. It’s a reliable signal that something a little different is going on here. Aromatically the wine leads with notes of cherries, strawberry and attar of roses. The wine demonstrates real panache; it comes across as fresh and lively with an excellent marriage of bright fruit and juicy acidity. The mid-palate is silky and luscious and is anchored by a firm core of minerality. The finish is clean, crisp, flavorful, and refreshing. What stands out is its fun-quotient. It’s just a delightful glass of wine.

Our 2021 Rosé

Stu simply adds that “this is the best rosé you will ever taste!”

The blend is 33% Merlot and 67% Cabernet Franc, of course all sourced from our estate vineyards surrounding the winery at the top of the Spring Mountain.

Guests who have tasted the wine are telling us that this rosé is literally “head and shoulders above most of the rosés out in the world today.” It is not only a fabulous color but a sophisticated and complex wine on the palate.

Let us know what you think!

Please grab some while you can! We expect to be sold out by September 1.

And while you’re at it:

Smith-Madrone Current Releases

2017 Riesling is 92 and ‘balanced’ in the summer issue of Wine & Spirits Magazine

The 2017 Riesling was reviewed in the summer issue of Wine & Spirits Magazine:

92 points: A youthful five-year-old riesling, this wine feels weightless in its heady jasmine floral scents and pretty lemon-tart flavors. The mountain-grown minerality creates a tense frame around the fruit and flowers, setting this up as an age-worthy white. Balanced and lasting.

2018 Cabernet is splendid

In the June 2022 issue of Restaurant Wine, Ronn Wiegand tastes the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon:

Five stars:  Splendid vintage of Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon and the finest I have tasted. It is very aromatic, full bodied, and vibrant on the palate, with intense, complex flavors (blackberry, cranberry, green leaf, tobacco, black currant, pepper), balanced, and very long on the finish. Has medium tannins; warrants several more years of aging. Outstanding value. [2025-2035]

Brown Rice, Chickpea & Carrot Salad to pair with 2018 Cabernet

In the March 15 issue of The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon was reviewed:

4.5 stars. This cab has an enticing streak of black raspberry from start to finish. It also has notes of black cherry, mineral and cracked black pepper. With a supple texture and generous fruit, this cab is gorgeous.

Other Cabernets were reviewed, and Michele Anna Jordan created a recipe to pair with Cabernet; read on.

Fruity cab a good match for earthy grains

…..Certain grains and seeds — especially farro, chickpeas, brown rice and quinoa — engage with Cabernet’s earthy quality. Carrots encourage the spice notes in the wine to blossom. These qualities come together in a simple dish that can be the main part of a meal, with a green salad alongside, or a side dish with grilled vegetables, poultry or meat. I especially enjoy it with grilled green onions alongside. The salad pleases a disparate group, including vegans, vegetarians, carnivores and those who adhere to a gluten-free diet.

Brown Rice, Chickpea and Carrot Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Makes 4 to 6 servings

¾ cup raw short-grain brown rice

Kosher salt

Olive oil

2 carrots, preferably Nantes variety, peeled, trimmed and cut into very small dice

1 bay leaf

Black pepper in a mill

½ cup dry red wine

1 small red onion, peeled and cut into small dice

14-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted

Large handful fresh Italian parsley leaves

Mustard Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Put the rice in a small saucepan. Add a generous spoonful of salt, a splash of olive oil and 1¼ cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. When the water boils, reduce the heat and simmer until the rice is tender, about 35 to 40 minutes. Turn off the heat, leave the pan covered and let rest 15 minutes. Transfer the rice to a wide and shallow bowl, fluff with a fork and let cool slightly.

While the rice cools, prepare the carrots. Put them in a small saucepan; add about a teaspoon of salt, the bay leaf, several turns of black pepper and the wine. If the wine does not cover the carrots, add water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the carrots are tender, about 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer the carrots to a bowl and add the onion, chickpeas, carrots and parsley and toss gently. Return the saucepan to the heat and simmer until the cooking liquid is reduced to about ⅓ cup. Add it to the bowl with the other ingredients.

Make the mustard vinaigrette.

While the rice is cooling, pour half the vinaigrette over it.

Once the rice has cooled but is still a bit warm, add the carrot mixture and toss gently. Add the remaining vinaigrette, toss again a time or two and enjoy right away.

Basic Mustard Vinaigrette

Makes about 1 cup

1 shallot, minced

2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced

Juice of 1 lemon, plus more to taste

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Black pepper in a mill

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste

Put the shallot and garlic in a mixing bowl, add the lemon juice and a generous pinch of salt and set aside for 15 or 20 minutes. Add the mustard and several turns of black pepper and whisk in the olive oil. Taste and correct for acid and salt balance; if it is too tart for your taste, add a bit more olive oil, a tablespoon at a time. Set aside until ready to use.



Riesling & Steak?

Riesling and steak?

The New York Times thinks so: in Eric Asimov’s column on May 25, 2022, he wrote:

“….For example, a colleague asked me what white wines I would choose with dishes that we ordinarily serve with red wines, like pizza, pasta with cooked tomato sauce or steak. My answer: I’m not sure. Try a white wine you like and see what you think.

That perhaps sounds flippant, but I’m serious. Years ago in Germany, a winemaker demonstrated what he considered a wonderful pairing: a 20-year-old riesling auslese with a steak. It was a delicious combination. The richness of the wine’s texture was intact after 20 years, though most of the sweetness had faded into an umami quality that went unexpectedly well with the beef.

Such successes extend the range of possibilities. Today, I might try a younger dry riesling, something from Alsace or the Wachau region of Austria. The combination might not make magic, but I would learn something valuable even if I didn’t like it.

The lesson of the Auslese experience was clear: Implausible combinations can be good if you have the opportunity to see for yourself. I have since enjoyed Champagne and riesling with pizza, and red wine with oysters— no reason to think that white wines would be disastrous with red sauce…..”

You can find the complete article here:

Our Rosé is back; Spring at Smith-Madrone

We (as in Napa Valley) are back! It’s a wonderful spring and we’re thrilled to be welcoming visitors to Smith-Madrone.

 We are delighted to announce the third release of our Rosé, with the 2021 vintage. We only made 165 cases, so we expect this to fly out of our cellar very quickly.

This is the first wine to be released since the disastrous 2020 harvest season; as you might remember, because of the Glass Fire, we are not releasing any wines from the 2020 vintage.

This is a serious Rosé. A blend of our estate Merlot (33%) and estate Cabernet Franc (67%), cold-fermented in stainless steel—it’s one of a kind in terms of being tasty and distinctive and brazenly pink.

Charlie explains:

What stands out is its ‘fun-quotient.’ It’s just a delightful glass of wine that will pair beautifully with a wide variety of food or be completely delicious by itself.

A continuity of style is already emerging with our Rosé. The first thing you notice is the extravagant, piercing salmon color; it’s so vibrant it’s practically radioactive. It’s a reliable signal that something a little different is going on here. Aromatically the wine leads with what are now the characteristic notes of Rosés, sour cherries and strawberry. Like most great wines this impression is found in the very first sip. The wine comes across as vibrant and lively with an excellent marriage of bright fruit and juicy acidity. The mid-palate is silky and luscious and is anchored by a firm core of minerality. The finish is clean, crisp, flavorful and refreshing.

2021 Rosé

The wine is sourced entirely from our estate vineyards surrounding the winery at elevations between 1,300 and 2,000 feet from grapes grown from steep slopes which range up to 34%, perched at the very top of the Spring Mountain District AVA.

Buy: $30.00 (750ml)

Just released: 2021 Rosé
2018 Cabernet Sauvignon2018 Chardonnay
As recently reviewed in The Wine Enthusiast95 points: This wine is energetic and distinctive in style, with earthy elements of pencil shavings and clay most pronounced. Balanced and fresh in approach, it provides flavors of currant and black berry around its earthier, more herbal components, which lend balance and elegance to it all.
Buy: $62.00 (750ml)
As recently reviewed in The Santa Rosa Press DemocratAn impressive chardonnay with great minerality and tangy citrus notes that keep its lush flavors in check. Notes of apple, apricot and brioche. Pitch-perfect balance. Extremely well-crafted. 
Buy: $45.00 (750ml)
2017 Riesling2013 Cook’s Flat Reserve
As recently reviewed by James Suckling: 94 pointsA show-stopper! The lovely candied-orange and orange-cream nose leads you into the succulent palate, which has a wonderful combination of vibrancy and concentration, the kind of which you don’t expect from a Californian riesling. The hint of tannin is as well integrated as the racy acidity, and all this pulls together on the powerful, mineral finish. Drink or hold.

Buy: $34.00 (750ml)
As reviewed in International Wine ReviewNamed after George Cook, who planted this 8 acre parcel on the top of Spring Mountain in the 1880s, this is a singular, expressive Cabernet Sauvignon. Showing dark cassis and slate like minerals on the nose, it’s refined and light on its feet in the mouth, yet packed with flavor. An elegant expression of mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. Made from a mountain top parcel replanted in 1972.

Buy: $300.00 (750ml)

Please plan to visit if your plans bring you to Napa Valley. Reservations are required, which is easily done on our website. It looks to be a busy summer; please plan your visit ahead of time. There’s nothing like a glass of Smith-Madrone enjoyed at our high-altitude estate at the top of Spring Mountain on a wonderful summer’s day, enjoying the views out over the Valley floor and the expanse of steep vineyards.

Stu and Charlie

2017 Riesling

Wine educator Eric Hiltz at Bin 412 tastes the 2017 Riesling on his Instagram:

Consider me converted.

2017 Smith Madrone Riesling, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, California 12.9%

I’ve long been enamored with the Cabernets(Sauvignon and Franc alike) and Merlots of Spring Mountain where a thin topsoil layer and high elevation above the fog line produces smaller, thicker skinned berries yielding wines of marked intensity, varietal character, structure and age worthiness that in the hands of the right farming and winemaking can also possess freshness and elegance not often seen in this part of the world.

Who would have thought that world class Riesling could grow next to these monumental reds and achieve similar heights?

Enter brothers Stuart and Charles Smith. Stuart purchased the property in 1971 and Charles makes the wine, all from estate fruit on vineyards ranging between 1,300 – 2,000 feet asl on slops as steep as 34%

I’ve been drinking a lot of Riesling lately given my recent bi-annual trips to the Finger Lakes region. I haven’t had anything from the west coast that matches the verve, tension and energy of some of my favorites. Nor have I had any that match the texture and balance of my favorite German examples. This wine changed the game for me.

Substantial weight and density on the nose. Oily, waxy petrol already coming through overtop of soaring florals, crisp apple and some savory herbaceous notes. Medium weight with more stone fruit than citrus flavors on the palate. Amazing texture. The acidity comes in next, not offsetting but accentuating, the seriousness of this wine, pointing to a long life ahead. Simply gorgeous.

I challenge you to give me a $32 bottle of white wine that provides this much immediate enjoyment with the promise of being rewarded with 10-20+ years of patience.