AWG Correspondent

Martin D. Redmond

Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery Photos

Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery Review

Regions: Napa Valley AVA, Spring Mountain District AVA, California

Reviewed: June 23, 2014 by Martin D. Redmond
Published: August 26, 2014

Smith-Madrone Vineyard and Winery is a family run, estate-bottled winery located on Spring Mountain in the Napa Valley town of St. Helena. The winery was founded in 1971 by brothers Stuart and Charles Smith who are the Managing Partner/Enologist and Winemaker respectively. In addition to the brothers' surnane, the name of the winery includes the name of the predominant tree on the ranch. The Madrone is an evergreen with a red-brown trunk and branches. In the spring, the tree bears lily-of-the-valley-like flower clusters; in fall orange-red berries appear.

When the Smith brothers purchased the 200 acre ranch in 1971, it included a vineyard that had been planted over a century before. The forest had reclaimed much of the land, and the brothers had to call in loggers to clear patches of land that would become vineyards. There remain numerous historical sights on the ranch as well as significant natural beauty and wildlife.

All of Smith-Madrone's wines are produced exclusively from their 34 acres of hillside vineyard planted by the Smith brothers. The vineyard is planted to 6.25 acres of Riesling, 10.25 acres of Chardonnay and 13 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, with Merlot and Cabernet Franc available for blending. The vineyard sits at elevations between 1,300 and 2,000 feet, on steep slopes which range up to 34%. Smith-Madrone was one of the first wineries located on Spring Mountain.

Smith-Madrone produces 4,000 cases annually of Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a special Cook’s Flat Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines are available for purchase at the winery and on their website.

Tasting Experience:  The scenic drive up to Smith-Madrone winds up Spring Mountain through lush evergreen forests and other vineyards scattered about the mountain. Once you arrive at the property, you’ll be greeted by one of the Smith brothers who always conduct the tours.

On the day we visited, Charlie held court. After a brief tour of the property which included information about its historical background, we got down to the tasting. Charlie is an engaging host with erudite, yet down-to-earth, manner about him. Of course he has a wealth of knowledge about all things Smith-Madrone, but having been in Napa Valley for forty plus years, he’s also a wealth of knowledge for all things Napa Valley.

It’s a working winery, so there’s not much there in terms of a tasting room per se. But what you will find are great wines, honestly produced by the Smiths, whose philosophy is to get the most out of each vintage and get it in the glass.

The Wines:  Here are my tasting notes on the wines we tasted during my visit:

2011 Smith Madrone Chardonnay
Pale yellow color with enticing apple, stone fruit, lemon, chalk and a hint of spice aromas. The wine shows an enticing viscosity in the glass that portends the ample mouth-feel of the wine. On the palate, it's medium-bodied, harmonious, and zesty with peach, apricot, honey, brown spice and mineral flavors. Long mouth-watering finish. Barrel-fermented and aged 8 months in 100% new French oak. 14.2% alcohol. 463 cases produced. Retail - $35

2009 Smith Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon
Dark ruby color with promising black cherry, cassis, blackberry, cedarwood, and a hint of cacao aromas. On the palate, it's medium-bodied, and vibrant harmonious with penetrating black cherry, cassis, mixed black and blueberry flavors, and sweet, well-integrated tannins and a long finish. Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 84%, Merlot 8% & Cabernet franc 8%. 13.9% alcohol. Aged 22 months in new American white oak barrels. One of the best values you'll find in Napa Valley Cab at $45!

2012 Smith Madrone Riesling
Very pale lemon-green color with appealing stone fruit, apple lime, wet stone, and a hint of lychee aromas. On the palate it approaches medium-bodied and is dry, clean, focused, and well-structured with tart apple, peach, lime, and mineral flavors and a long persistent finish. 12.5% alcohol. 798 cases produced. Made from 40 year old vines. Retail - $27 The best American Riesling I’ve had!

2010 Smith Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon Cook's Flat Reserve
Alluring cassis, black cherry, toasted oak, and spice aromas. On the palate, it medium-bodied, well-structured, layered and supple with promising black cherry and cassis flavors and a long finish. Excellent now, but lay it down for another 7-10 years and you'll be amply rewarded for your patience. It’s a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Cabernet Franc. It was aged for eighteen months in 100% new French oak, and then aged three years in the bottle. 140 cases produced Retail - $200

I heartily recommend a visit to Smith-Madrone. All the wines are excellent, and it was a delightful and informative tour and tasting!

Address & Contact Information: 4022 Spring Mountain Rd. St. Helena, California 94574. Telephone: 707-963-2283, website: Tasting Hours: By appt. 11:00, 2:00.

Overall Rating:  

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