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Lonely Planet recommends a visit

January 2, 2019

Have you read Lonely Planet’s Wine Trails: Plan 52 Perfect Weekends in Wine Country?

On p. 296 you’ll find:


Fans of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon will often be heard debating the respective merits of “mountain” Cabernet vs. those from the Valley floor. Those curious enough to taste the difference for themselves should head up  Spring Mountain to the rustic but welcoming winery of Smith-Madrone, where brothers Stu and Charlie Smith have been making some of the  Valley’s most under-rated Cabernet (not to mention Riesling and Chardonnay) since 1971. These are wines that not only taste great when they are young, but also age superbly if you have the patience to stick them away for a few years.

A visit to Smith-Madrone not only gives you the chance to spend time talking and tasting with some of the friendliest and most genuine winemakers in the business, it also offers up some of the most spectacular vistas in the entire Napa Valley. The old barn is full of charm….



WineForNormalPeople takes a look

December 26, 2018

December 2018

Elizabeth Schneider at WineForNormalPeople takes a look:


2015 Riesling is pitch perfect

December 23, 2018

On December 22 Peg Melnik at The Santa Rosa Press Democrat recommends “wines that will impress:”

Playing host over the holiday? If so, be forewarned. In Wine Country, guests have high expectations; they feel entitled to have their palates pampered.

With top winemakers in this region rivaling the best on the planet, it won’t be hard to impress.

They are world-class experimenters who push the envelope. They don’t settle. These people don’t punch a timecard. On the contrary, they work crazy hours and it’s most evident during harvest when they are sleep-deprived for days on end.

The wines listed have been palate-tested and they’re prime examples of the best crafted in the region. They will no doubt prompt your guests to ask for another pour. When you fill their glasses, you can smile with peace of mind; these wines make you look good.
—Smith-Madrone, 2015 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Riesling, 12.9 percent. This complex riesling has layered notes of papaya, petrol and honeysuckle. It’s nice and dry, with bright acidity. Pitch perfect balance. Impressive.

“Reference-quality Riesling” for the holidays

December 19, 2018

26 Drinkable Gifts Fit for Any Occasion

by Gabe Sasso, December 20, 2018, TheDailyMeal

The 2018 holiday season is here, and it brings so many things with it. A big one is of course gift-giving, which is fun and gratifying but can also be time-consuming and stressful. Don’t worry, though, we’re here to make the process easier (and possibly even fool-proof). Nearly everyone has a wine or spirits lover on their gift list. The number of choices out there can be dizzying, but we have some amazing selections to share.

One of the great things about wine and booze as gifts is that concerns about size, style, and color go right out the window. A well-considered bottle of wine or hard alcohol always brings a smile from the recipient. As far as the “well-considered” part, we’ve got you covered.

Over the last few weeks we’ve tasted dozens of wines and spirits and selected 26 that are delicious, distinct, and a really good value. So whether your budget is less than $20 or over $500, you’re covered. This list comprises producers big and small, too, so whether you’re buying for someone who is going to be flattered by a well-known name or someone who leans toward lesser-known artisanal beverages, there’s a drinkable gift on this list for nearly everyone.

Smith-Madrone Riesling 2015 

There are a handful of riesling producers in Napa Valley, but Smith-Madrone is the one that truly matters most. One vintage after another, they release reference-quality riesling that is delicious and often age-worthy. Peach and apricot aromas are joined by a hint of lilac. The palate is even-keeled with continuing stone fruit and a dollop of spice. The mineral-laden finish shows off a kiss of lemon curd. Firm acid provides a great backbone. Whether you drink it now or age it for a couple of decades, this wine showcases Smith-Madrone’s mastery of riesling.


Stu a guest on WeLikeDrinking

December 18, 2018

The gang at WeLikeDrinking had Stu on the show on December 14:

One of the most authentic….

December 18, 2018

The Best Appointment-Only Tasting Experiences in Napa and Sonoma Wine Country

Some of the best experiences in Napa and Sonoma counties require some extra planning, meaning you have to make an appointment. But they’re well worth the effort. A word to the wise—reach out for appointments at these wineries well in advance of your travels. Happy tasting.

by Jonathan Cristaldi, Food & Wine Magazine, November 28, 2017

Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery

For one of the most authentic and old-fashioned experiences in Napa, make the winding  trek up Spring Mountain Road to visit with winemaker Charles Smith or his brother, viticulturist Stuart Smith. Take in dramatic views of the valley below through a corridor of 100-year-old olive trees and sample three current releases—Chardonnay, Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon, all grown on the estate vineyards surrounding the winery on the top of Spring Mountain. You’ll be regaled with stories of Napa past and present because the brothers have been growing grapes for 46 years. Tip: ask about Smith-Madrone’s Cook’s Flat Reserve ($225, with each bottle initialed and numbered). Also, keep an eye out for Smith’s son, next-generation winemaker Sam Smith, who will debut his own label Curly St. James—a Cabernet-dominant blend—in the fall of this year. Having sampled it at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, I can attest that it’s a tremendous wine from one of Napa’s rising star winemakers.

Appointments available: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Phone: (707) 963-2283

2014 Cabernet, “an elegantly integrated mouthful”

December 17, 2018

Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons For The Holiday Season

December 6, 2018

If you are looking to serve a special wine this holiday season or want to give a thoughtful gift to a wine lover in your life, look to Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon to make an impression.  Whether you want  a wine to serve for an elegant holiday dinner, a bottle to take to a special holiday party, or something for your boss who happens to be a wine aficionado, this list is all you need.  This is not just any list, here you will find small, off the grid wines that are produced in small quantities by some of the best winemakers in Napa Valley.  These wines are perfect holiday wines, elegant structured and very food friendly.

Best Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for intimate holiday dinners (Under $60)

Smith-Madrone Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 

Smith-Madrone wines are made entirely from dry-farmed estate vineyards surrounding the winery on top of Spring Mountain in the Napa Valley. Stuart Smith chose specific slopes with different exposures for specific varietals when planting the vineyards, specifically southern and western exposures across flat stretches for the Cabernet Sauvignon. Stu was named one of the wine industry’s most inspirational people in January 2018.

This wine opens with a concentrated nose of dark fruits, leading with notes of boysenberry and plum. The palate is remarkably seamless, an elegantly integrated mouthful with a velvety, silky texture which leaves you realizing how winemaking can ‘distill’ a grape into a powerful perfume, the essence of Cabernet Sauvignon.



“One of the best Rieslings made in California”

December 17, 2018


Vinography Unboxed: Week of 12/2/18

Hello, and welcome to my periodic dig through the samples pile. I’m pleased to bring you the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles that have crossed my doorstep recently.

Still in the white category, this week also included two ever-reliable sources of tastiness: the Falanghina from Feudi di San Gregorio in Campania (ocean-air crisp and lean) and the Riesling from Spring Mountain producer Smith-Madrone, which, as usual is one of the best Rieslings made in California.

2015 Smith-Madrone Riesling, Spring Mountain District, Napa, California
Pale yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of petrol and pear and honeysuckle. In the mouth, lemon and pear flavors have a hint of tangerine and a touch of butterscotch as they crackle with excellent acidity across the palate. Wet-chalkboard minerality leaves a clean dry feeling on the palate with only the whisper of aromatic sweetness. 12.9% alcohol.

Chardonnay in Top 25 Wines of 2018

December 7, 2018

Our thanks to SoifKnows for choosing the 2014 Chardonnay in his Top 25 Wines of 2018 ranking:

Here is his review from January 11, 2018:

Golden yellow throwing big petrol coal-fire and rich melon fruit into your face. Dusky petrichor, smoky brittle, dense and filthily fruited with all the sultry nectar chalky nuance and bitter applesauce a wine can muster. Buttery and dense in the nose, with the acid bite apparent before the first taste.

One of my favorite Napa Valley chards, and the REASON IS: it goes with red meat better than a lot of red wines. I have trotted this out on several occasions to represent the main course and–amid much rolling of eyes–it cuts through savory steak and rich reductions better than some of the mainstay reds on the table.

In the mouth, bitter applesauce and persimmon personify the flinty bite of superbly crafted unctuous fermented white–rich but not fat, concentrated but not cloying–and the sultry points of the persimmon and melon complement both the rich fruit nuances of said, but also the vibrant edginess of each.  The sharp acid visible in the bouquet translates firmly mid-palate, where the slow burn of alcohol and tannin prepare you for a decades-long finish reverently awash in sweet fruit and shockingly packed with bitter structure.

If you want your Chardonnay syrupy and collapsing on itself with butter and oak, this is the WRONG bottle to buy. But if you want to THINK about your Chardonnay: a spicy nectar so alive, so focused on mountain typicity and brilliantly churning decadent fruit balanced with terroir, minerality and citrus you might only see in Chablis, THIS is your beast. If you’ve eye-rolled too many times and somewhat given up on California Chardonnay, this is your bottle.


2014 Chardonnay is Enofylz’ Wine of the Day

December 6, 2018

Enofylz takes a look at the 2014 Chardonnay:

This wine is 100% Chardonnay crafted from 42-year-old dry-farmed vines on Spring Mountain.  It was 100% barrel fermented and raised for 9 months in 100% new French oak

Color – Pale straw yellow
Aromas – Apple, pear, lemon curd, almond, and toasty oak with a hint of chalk
Body – Medium-bodied and impeccably balanced with very fresh with vibrant acidity
Taste – Baked apple, fresh pear, lemon meringue, and key lime accented with very appealing baking spice flavors
Finish – Long

92pts|14.3% abv| 850 cases|

Year in and year out, this distinguished wine is one of my favorite California Chardonnays!

Pair with:  Steamed Dungeness Crab with drawn butter