Podcast 16
A visit to Smith-Madrone Winery

I, "the everyman's wine snob", had the very unique opportunity this last Saturday to visit Smith-Madrone Winery, located atop Spring Mountain in Napa Valley, California. It was an amazing experience and an absolute pleasure meeting both Stu and Charles Smith (owners), who share the responsibility for producing some of the most unique and exciting Rieslings and Cabernet Sauvignons that I have tasted, to date, from Napa Valley. JonM the "wine snob's everyman" and I hope you enjoy the podcast we put together about my experience at Smith-Madrone Winery.
©robb mcdonough

©robb mcdonough

Thanks to Russ Beebe, aka “winehiker” (follow him on twitter @winehiker)  I, “the everyman’s wine snob” had the very unique opportunity this last Saturday to visit Smith-Madrone Winery, located atop Spring Mountain in Napa Valley, California.  It was an amazing experience and an absolute pleasure meeting both Stu and Charles Smith (owners), who share the responsibility for producing some of the most unique, ageable and exciting Rieslings and Cabernet Sauvignons that I have tasted, to date, from Napa Valley.

JonM the “wine snob’s everyman” and I hope you enjoy the podcast we put together about my experience at Smith-Madrone Winery.

A List of the Smith-Madrone wines I tried:

2007 Chardonnay – Delicate aromas of apple, pear, acacia with hints of ginger-ale.  Showing some minerality and oak on the nose.  The flavors are of apple, guava, citrus, vanilla and balanced nicely by good acidity. Unfortunately the alcohol makes its self a little too known. Nice wine with medium complex finish. Retail is $30

2008 Chardonnay – Lively aromas of crisp green apple, lemon, and wet river rocks. The lively acid gives this wine it’s good structure, and is balanced by the oak, citrus, apple, and Crème brûlée flavors.  The creamy texture and balanced alcohol combine with the complexity of flavors to give this wine a nice medium long finish. Retail is $30

2004 Cabernet Sauvignon – Developing aromas of earth, dried herbs, tobacco leaves, black cherry, black olive, blackberry compote and some old world

©robb mcdonough

©robb mcdonough

charm (aka funk). The tannins are medium plus and gripping.  Flavors of black cherry, milk chocolate, plums and creme de cassis are elegantly balanced by very good acidity.  The finish is both very long and complex.  This wine would benefit from 5 to 10 years of additional cellaring to better integrate the tannins.

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon – Closed on the nose with slight hints of sour cherry, tea, black currant and some mint and cedar. Tannins are very tight and gripping.  The flavors are reminiscent of black tea, tar, cherries, plum, earth and smoke.  Acid and alcohol are both medium plus.  Finish is somewhat less complex than the 2004 but still charming.  I feel the wine needs more time to age to reveal its true potential. Retail is $45.

1979 Cabernet Sauvignon – Very developed aromas of raspberry jamm, cherry, violets, some mushrooms and truffles and light cedar notes.  The fruite here is still very alive and the color much more vibrant then I expected from a wine this age. On the palate the tannins are developed but still strong and lend an incredible structure to this wine. The acid is higher then in today’s modern “New World” wines but then again the alcohol is also lower, perhaps this is one of the reasons this wine is so appealing.  Flavors of clove, red cherries, dark chocolate, and plums dance on the palate.  The finish is almost religious in its complexity, length and silkiness. The wine can be summed up in one word BALANCED! Not for sale.

2008 Riesling – Youthful aromas of white flowers, white peaches, green apple, citrus and nectarines. The wine is off-dry and nicely balanced by the medium plus acid.  Flavors are of medium intensity and of peaches, melon, green apple, lemon zest and wet stone.  The finish is very pleasing and medium in length.  A very nice example of Riesling! Can this really be from Napa??? Retail is $27

1993 Riesling – Developed and very inviting aromas of petrol/diesel, flint, apple, honey, truly incredible!  The wine is medium-dry, and as with all the wines tasted today it too has great acid. Flavors are of baked apples, honey, guava and maple roasted almonds.  The wine is very complex and has such an alluring finish that lingers on the palate. An outstanding example of a Riesling and its ageing potential.  EXCELLENT.  No longer available at the winery.

Click the this link for more photos of my visits, courtesy of the very talented Robb McDonough

Cheers,

ChrisO the “everyman’s wine snob”

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  • http://californiawinehikes.com/winehiker winehiker

    Chris, I'm delighted that you were able to join me Saturday for those lovely Smith-Madrone estate-grown wines. Yours are genuinely great notes – makes me want to taste the entire panel all over again!

  • http://www.smithmadrone.com/ Julie Ann

    Dear Chris:
    Wow, we’re ‘humbled’ by your careful eye & palate & sense of humor & powers of observation…I just listened to the podcast (also)…quickly a few things:
    Yes Smith-Madrone’s wines are nationally distributed, not in every state—people can contact the winery to ask or of course go to http://www.smithmadrone.com and order directly
    Great/funny comparison to Sophia Loren, one of Stu’s all-time favorite actresses etc.+
    So insightful about pulling the older wines, Stu & Charlie being proud—all true—most visitors won’t have the chance to taste an older wine, but Stu or Charlie (it’s always one of the brothers who greets/tastes people) could be persuaded perhaps, depending…!
    …really enjoyable piece!!!

    Warm best,
    Julie Ann

  • http://www.vintuba.com ChrisO

    Russ, Thanks for the comments, I'm ready anytime you are to taste the wines again.

    Cheers and keep on hiking,

    ChrisO

  • JonM

    Thanks for your nice comment. I am so happy that others can benefit from my ignorance, which is good, since I seem to have an never ending supply. -JonM

  • http://www.pptjax.com/ Eric

    Cool. Very descriptive of the atmosphere and the wine. Would love to see it.

  • Name

    Really enjoyed the discussion. Only comment I would have like to have heard during the conversation was a rough price-point on the newer releases.

    Keep up the good work!

    Cheers

  • Jared

    Hey Chris,

    We went to Smith Madrone right around when you were there, maybe a few weeks after – and i have to say we loved it also. It was just too much fun – and you really nailed it when it comes to what the place is about. Old school real deal wine making without a hint of pretension of any sort. When we went i think we had our tasting on an old barrel that he brushed the crud off of when we went in. It really was great wine and great conversation, against a backdrop of a truly authentic winery in a location that is just about as pretty as it gets in the valley.

  • vintuba

    Jared, Thanks for the comment! So glad you enjoyed it as much as I did. This is for sure a hidden authentic jewel among the cubic zirconia that so often represents Napa.

    Thanks for listening!

    Cheers,

    ChrisO

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