Skip to content

Stu on the radio

February 28, 2017

Stu talks to Nicole Nielsen at CRN Talk Radio:

Their chat starts at minute 28. Background noise courtesy of Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Pasadena.

2014 Riesling reviewed at 91 points

February 7, 2017

The International Wine Report reviewed the 2014 Riesling:

91 points

This fantastic Spring Mountain Riesling from Smith-Madrone opens with pretty aromas of white peach, lychee and lime followed by crushed stones and hints of white floral, which all take shape beautifully in the glass. On the palate this fresh and inviting Riesling is well balanced with a wonderful mix of fruit and acidity. Overall, this is a dry style of Riesling, but there is a lovely hint of residual sugar, making this impossible to resist.

2013 Chardonnay one of Fred Koeppel’s Top 50 of 2016

January 9, 2017

9 Jan 2017

50 Great Wines of 2016

by Fredric Koeppel

So, here it is, My Readers, the annual “50 Great Wines” roster, presently for the past year, that is, 2016. Not the “Greatest” of all wines or the “Best” of all wines, but a selection of 50 products that struck me as embodying everything we want in a wine: freshness, balance, appeal; depth, personality and character; an adherence to the nature of the grapes and, where possible, the virtues of the vineyard and climate. These are wines that leave aside the ego of the winemaker and producer for an expression of — not to sound too idealistic — an ideal of what a wine should be. I won’t belabor the process by which I arrived at this list of 50 wines, except to say that every wine I rated “Exceptional” during 2016 is automatically included. Did I leave out wines that I truly admired? Indeed, I did, because this list focuses on wines that I truly loved. Enjoy!

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Smith-Madrone Chardonnay 2013, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley. Production was 806 cases. Exceptional. About $32.

A Wine Tasting Tale – Holiday Greetings

December 21, 2016
Dear Friend,

We wanted to share something fun which appeared in our inbox recently.
A long-time customer brought a bottle of the 2009 Cook’s Flat Reserve to a blind tasting-dinner in Beverly Hills. The other contenders were 1970 Chateau Latour, 2001 Opus One and 1976 Chateau Lafite Rothschild. The four couples enjoying the wines—blind—overwhelmingly chose the Cook’s Flat as their favorite. We leave you to your own conclusions…we are honored to be in such august company.

We send you and your family especially warm holiday wishes.



Charlie, Stu & Sam 


Somm Journal comes for a visit

December 16, 2016

The Somm Journal came for a visit: this is in their December issue.

Download SOMM article (PDF 603mb)

Fred Swan describes not only the history but also the current releases, 2014 Chardonnay, 2014 Riesling, 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2009  Cook’s Flat. Take a look!

A true pioneer and going strong

November 30, 2016

Fred Swan attended the Spring Mountain  District tasting in San Francisco recently: an excerpt from his coverage is below.

Spring Mountain Wines You Need to Try

Spring Mountain wines come in all shapes and sizes. The Spring Mountain District AVA, located just west of downtown St. Helena comes with a variety of facings and altitudes. There is a variety of attitudes too; some wineries go for bold and ripe, others lean and bright.

On November 17, the Spring Mountain District held an appellation-wide trade and media tasting in San Francisco and I tasted most every wine in the room. Here are my thoughts and top picks from that event. Walk-around tastings aren’t ideal for scoring wines, but I’d rate all of the wines mentioned below at 91 points or higher.

Smith-Madrone Winery is a true pioneer of Spring Mountain wines and is still going strong. The 2014 Smith-Madrone Riesling Spring Mountain District is a fresh, dry, medium-bodied wine with alive with lemon-lime and under-ripe apricot. The 2009 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon Cook’s Flat Spring Mountain District is a powerhouse of black currant and chocolate which drinks very well now but will age for 15+ years.

We are releasing 2014 Riesling, 2014 Chardonnay, 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2009 Cook’s Flat

November 7, 2016
Harvest Photo

Fall 2016


We’re off to a great beginning for the 2017 vintage with over 10 inches of rain in October. How’s that again??? We’re farmers first, so yes, every new vintage starts at the end of the last vintage and the 2016 vintage ended for us in late September – just the third vintage in our history when we haven’t harvested a single grape in October.  The cover crop is green, fast growing and happy. And we are just as happy with the 2016 vintage.  We had a lovely warm summer with no heat spikes, followed by an unusually cool harvest which allowed us to choose the exact day we wanted to harvest. The fruit was so beautiful, it seemed as though we should have been part of a Chamber of Commerce photo shoot. More importantly, the grapes had excellent flavors with great acidity. While not definitive, tastes of the young wine are very promising and may signal a great vintage.

We are pleased to offer you our first release of our 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon as well as our other limited production 100% Spring Mountain wines in time for the holidays.

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon:  The Cabernet combines Cabernet Sauvignon (82%), Cabernet Franc (12%) and Merlot (6%) and spent 20 months in both new French oak and one-year-old French oak. It has a medium dark red color, with complex and layered aromas of cassis, black cherry, pomegranate; it is an arresting mélange of blue/black and red fruits.  We think you can taste the mountain here, in the long silky tannins and profusion of forest floor notes as well as an array of spices and herbs.  The wine is firm, integrated and again, it has that complex, layered flavor on the palate. The wine is just as good, if not better, the next day. $50 bottle

2014 Riesling:  A nose of honeysuckle, orange blossom, crisp citrus fruits and minerality is followed by touches of white peach and pear. The wine is very dry, smooth, elegant with a bright acidity and a silky mouthfeel. The aftertaste lingers on the palate with a refreshing zing of crisp citrus fruits. This wine is made from grapes grown on our steep mountain slopes, honoring the international tradition of Riesling which thrives on hillsides. Our Rieslings are wines that match well with just about any foods or style, be it fresh or salt water fish, poultry and the white meats, or Asian or Indian cuisine, and of course it is exquisite by itself.  $30 bottle

2014 Chardonnay:  Refined and delicious, this wine offers aromas of apples, pear and almonds, hinting at the bâtonnage and barrel fermentation the wine underwent during aging. This is a big, toasty Chardonnay with a creamy middle, with hints of macadamia and pine nuts.  It’s surprisingly lively and has a very long finish with layers of complexity and elegance.  One great feedback we’ve heard over the years is that red wine lovers love our Chardonnays. $32 bottle

2009 Cook’s Flat Reserve:  Our rather immodest goal is to produce the best wine in the world.  We first started out wanting to make the best wine from the Spring Mountain District, but then thought that goal was too confined so we decided for the best from the Napa Valley, but yet again we realized that goal still seemed too confined, so our stated goal is to be the best in the world. Now, admittedly that’s a lofty goal; after all, Ch. Lafite Rothschild has a seven hundred plus year head start on us – but you have to start somewhere and why not at the top?  Admittedly, we define what’s best, but then we taste a lot and trust our palate.  When we first bottled the 2009 Cook’s Flat Reserve we thought it was spectacular.

By the way, this year we conducted two separate blind tastings that featured fifteen 100 point wines including the 2009 Ch. Lafite Rothschild. We were pleased that the 2009 Cook’s Flat Reserve placed first in one of the tastings and the 2010 Cook’s Flat Reserve placed first in the other tasting. We characterize the Cook’s Flat Reserve as complex, layered, elegant, sophisticated,  stylized, balanced and ageable.  Admittedly, these words are difficult to define, yet, in toto, we believe they do define a style which has all the attributes of a great wine.  $200 bottle

Here’s what Gabe Sasso of The Daily Meal wrote when he included the 2009 Cook’s Flat Reserve in his “One of the Ten Best Cabernets in America:”

No surprise, brothers Stu and Charlie Smith hit it out of the park, but that’s what they’ve been doing for over 40 years. While it’s labeled as a proprietary blend, it’s composed of 75 percent cabernet sauvignon and the rest is cabernet franc, so legally it’s a cabernet sauvignon. Bits of toast and dark fruit dot the expressive nose. Blackberry, cherry, and more fill the palate. The flavors here are layered and complex. Dark dusty cocoa, continued cherry, and a hint of espresso are all present on the finish. Cook’s Flat Reserve is going to age well for at least 20 years, but if you’re impatient, pair with a standing rib roast this Christmas for a glorious experience.


Sam, Stu & Charlie


Smith Photo