Founded in 1971 by Stuart Smith, Smith-Madrone has 38 acres of high altitude (1300-2000’) steeply sloped mountain vineyards with deep, volcanic-based soils. Stuart Smith is one of Napa’s modern wine pioneers and has been one of the leading voices for mountain vineyards for the past 50 years. With his newly minted UC Davis degree in hand, he purchased 200 acres on Spring Mountain and began planting his dry farmed vineyards, choosing specific slopes with different exposures for each variety. Most the vines were planted self-rooted. Today, Stuart still farms these vineyards while his brother Charles serves as winemaker, and Sam Smith is assistant winemaker. Their authentic wines, reviewed below, reveal the unique mountain terroir. For more on Napa’s mountain wines, see our report on The Wines of Mount Veeder.
Smith-Madrone 2016 Riesling ($34) 91 Showing the ripe, sun-blessed fruit of California, this is dry, fruity Riesling showing lively scents of green apple and citrus that give way to a dense, stony palate of Meyer lemon and lemon curd with hints of stone fruit and bright, assertive acidity. Finishes very long with lingering lemon drop notes.
Smith-Madrone 2016 Chardonnay Napa Valley ($40) 94 Medium yellow gold. Sourced from dry farmed estate vines on Spring Mountain, this is classic California Chardonnay at its best. Richly fragrant of honeysuckle, smoky oak and ripe stone fruit and incredibly smooth and balanced on the palate with uplifting bright lemony acidity, beautifully integrated flavors, and a tangy, long lasting finish. Barrel fermented and then matured another 9 months in 80% new French oak. Very reasonably priced given the quality!
Smith-Madrone 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District Napa Valley ($52) 93 Sourced from dry farmed vineyards high up (1800’) on Spring Mountain, this is a superb example of mountain Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa. It offers black currant, plum, and berry fruit complemented by dried herbs and mountain underbrush aromas and flavors. It’s highly aromatic, firmly structured, and a delight to drink as it evolves in the glass, revealing a complexity of flavors that matches the bouquet. It shows a youthful exuberance, so additional cellar time will only add to its drinking pleasure. A blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Cabernet Franc matured in 65% new French oak.
Vineyard photo by Matthew Denny.