Impressive, full bodies and opulent, yet well-balanced with ample acidity
I recently tasted the 2017 Chardonnay. Smith-Madrone has 7.5 acres of Chardonnay vines. Because Chardonnay performs best in cooler temperatures, these Chardonnay vines were strategically planted in the coolest vineyard on the estate with north-facing slopes.
The 2017 Chardonnay is impressive! The flavor profile was almost as rich as the golden hue. The intriguing flavor profile included pineapple, peach, Meyer lemon, blood orange peel, honeysuckle, oak and spice mix. There was a rich, creamy mouthful. This wine was full-bodied and opulent, yet well-balanced with ample acidity! This wine paired perfectly with perfect weather and a lazy Saturday on the patio!
The best view comes after the hardest climb. Or in the case of Napa's Spring Mountain, after a hard drive up a long and winding mountain road! But once you reach the summit you can enjoy spectacular views and equally impressive wines! Near the top of Spring Mountain, for example, you will find Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery. Founded 50 years ago, Smith-Madrone has 34 acres of vineyards on its 200-acre ranch. The vineyards are planted on steep slopes at elevations ranging from 1,300-2,000 feet. Smith-Madrone was an early proponent of dry farming. Dry farming causes the grapevines to struggle and search of water and nutrients. The result is lower yields with small grapes that have high skin-to-juice ratios and produce concentrated fruit. This fruit, in turn, leads to wine with greater intensity and concentration than wine made from grapes that are the product of high yields.
Caramelized white flowers
Sun-yellow, peaches, apricots, buttered toasted biscuits, caramelized white flowers, earth and pears.
Wowza, I want this one again
Sweet cream, vanilla bean, crème brûlée, unsweetened butter – just a lot of vanilla/dairy notes on the nose that I found really interesting. From there I also got toasted oak, caramel candy, fresh sliced apple and pears in light syrup. Wasn’t sure what to expect from the taste but in I went…and found a full and round mouthfeel, mild acidity – not as much creaminess as I expected from the nose but wholly pleasant – some earth, the pears and apple again as well as a hint of buttery corn on the cob. And hour later my husband and I were just finishing the bottle, and even with less chill on the wine, it was still being discussed. Wowza, I want this one again. I had this with a Falafel burger with lettuce, pickles and tomatoes. Again, it was perfect.
Vivid well-constructed wine
Ambered gold robe. Burled butterscotch, vanilla and creme brûlée on the nose. Unctuous golden apple and stone fruit compote on the palate, lingering through to the finish.
A vivid, well-constructed wine that pairs well with rich cheeses or creamy pasta dishes.
Dancing with texture...really lovely on all accounts
Alluring and soft this delicious acid-driven Chardonnay, which is made from Smith Madrone's dry-farmed estate, has just the right amount of citrus, spice and smoke layered in with the green and stone fruit aromas and flavors. Tangy and dancing with texture from the barrel fermentation I really enjoyed the succulent finish and intriguing nuances that kept inviting me in for another sip. This Chardonnay was really lovely on all accounts
Layers of complexity and structure
Once in the glass you are greeted by a shiny golden straw color with light-medium viscosity. The clarity of the wine is pronounced. On the nose, honeysuckle and a muted lemon are the key aromas. Once in the palate, this is where this “clean gem” shines. Light oak (aged 10 months in 85% new French), minerality (the entire estate is dry farmed), a light creaminess of beeswax with hints of green apple and peach. The finish is crisp and lively like an upbeat jazz tune. Layers of complexity and structure are evident in this wonderful wine. This is an excellent stand-alone sipping Chardonnay.
The food pairing was so appropriate with this clean wine. Paired with a straight forward charcuterie tray of Tillamook aged smoked cheddar and Kerry Irish cheddar cheeses. Glazed pecans and crackers accompanied the wine and allowed it true character to shine through.
I was surprised and delighted by the uniqueness of this dry farmed Chardonnay (something you don’t find everyday) and its clarity and crispness was a welcomed embrace.
Fresh and lively on the palate with bright yet integrated acidity
Revealing a deeper gold hue, this has a slightly evolved style, yet it stays fresh and lively on the palate, with bright yet integrated acidity. Notes of caramelized orange brioche, marzipan and honeyed flowers give way to a medium-bodied, balanced Chardonnay that I suspect will age nicely for 4-6 years.
94 points, Editors' Choice: This barrel-fermented white opens in oaky intensity before settling into flavors of kiwi, lime and green apple. Complex and structured, it has a graceful heartiness and offers tremendous value for the quality.
A wine of distinction
93 points, 3 ½ kisses. The dry-farmed vines on the Smith family’s Spring Mountain estate produced this wine of distinction, whose accents of chamomile and lemon verbena on the nose lead to a palate of beeswax and stony minerality. Peach nectar enters midway, unleashing a flow of honey within an angular frame. Aged 10 months in 85% new French oak.
Certainly one of the best chardonnays from California that I tasted this year
All the wines display a remarkable dedication to authenticity, integrity and terroir....
The Chardonnay feels so pure, so intense, so crystalline that it transcends categories and regions. It spent 10 months in French oak, 85 percent new barrels. The color is medium gold; notes of classic pineapple and grapefruit unfurl touches of cloves, sandalwood and jasmine, flint and crushed gravel; as with most great wines, it embodies paradoxes in an exquisite balance of tension and resolution, so while the texture is dense, almost talc-like in weight, it’s also sleek, lithe and supple, riven by a thread of bright acidity; a few moments in the glass bring out elements of lemon balm and lemon curd, quince and ginger, and a strain of sea-flecked iodine. Drink now through 2025 to ’27. Certainly one of the best chardonnays from California that I tasted this year. Exceptional. About $40, representing Good Value.
Beautiful on all accounts
Good lemon zest off a nose reflective of the deep golden color. Pitchy and green, a briar-asphalt coating to generous oak and dusty, lazy, warm summer sunshine. Dark roasted melon slowly deteriorates on compost–a welcome earthy counter-point to the well-dressed spice and generous Chardonnay fullness. Thick and full in the mouth–gobs more of that golden Chardonnay energy and decadence, powerfully tinged in acid and tannin. Cool, watery nectarine and a hint of pear flows over the middle, pungent green tea and white pepper don’t let you dabble on the fruit too long at this young age, swarming in and inundating the palate with depth and body–ushering in the tannin these wines are known for. Beautiful on all accounts, but a shame to drink Smith-Madrone chard at this age. Look at it as a barrel sample: purchase accordingly. One of those 20-year Chards, for sure. Buy two cases–drink one a year. Invite me over when you do it.
Stylish and exciting
The first word that comes to mind when you get a whiff of this stylish and exciting wine is that it reminds you of what Spring Mountain Chardonnays used to smell like in the days before everyone resorted to complete malolactic fermentations, higher alcohols, the use of the use of residual sugar, and new French oak to help cover the fruit. Yet another example of how stylish dry-farmed, mountain-grown Chardonnay can deliver a food-oriented, complete experience that holds together with great acidity and balance. Leaning a bit more toward Puligny than Batard, it in fact does have a very slight nod toward White Burgundy, and delivers a lot more after another couple of years in the bottle. This is a wine that does not need much chilling.
Consistently an overperforming Chardonnay that screams value
94 points. Deep yellow color. Inviting, complex aromas of apple butter, lemon curd, grapefruit zesty, topped in notes of honey, graham cracker, sea salt and ginger. Harmonious, complex nose for sure. Rich texture on the palate, the creaminess is matched by this racy, salty aesthetic. Lemon curd, yellow apple and apricot fruit meld well with white tea, graham cracker and ginger, along with these stony, mineral, mountain stream elements. Consistently, such an overperforming Chardonnay that screams value, and the 2017 is a really expressive, vibrant iteration. Aged 10 months in 85% new French oak.
96 points: a grand slam of a wine
96 points: There's nothing quite like local knowledge when it comes to being able to roll with what comes your way, and I can't think of anywhere that this could be more applicable than in the world of making truly fine wine. As brothers Stu and Charlie Smith (and next generation son Sam) approach fifty years on Spring Mountain, it seems there's no curve ball that's been thrown their way that they can't manage to hit out of the park, so to speak. This vintage of the dry farmed estate grown Chardonnay is a grand slam of a wine, layered with complex apple, lemon and grilled pineapple fruit, well folded oak toast and racy acidity that just pumps the flavor mix endlessly. It's one of their riper Chardonnay offerings, but it's exquisitely managed and shows plenty of structure for aging. I could drink this bottle all the way down, but I think I'll use the rest to spread the gospel a little bit. Bravo!
Intense buttered popcorn and lemon curd flavors have a wonderfully saline quality that, along with excellent acidity, keeps the mouth-watering
Smith-Madrone has long been a favorite producer of mine up on Napa’s Spring Mountain. Their Chardonnay leans towards the richer side of the grape, but there’s plenty of acid and salinity in the wine to make it enjoyable. Light yellow-gold in color, this wine smells of buttered popcorn and butterscotch. In the mouth, intense buttered popcorn and lemon curd flavors have a wonderfully saline quality that, along with excellent acidity, keeps the mouth-watering. Notes of melted butter and toasted oak linger in the finish with a touch of grapefruit and a faint hint of alcoholic heat. Rich and on the ripe side, but quite tasty.
A juicy chardonnay, rich yet balanced
4 stars. A juicy chardonnay, rich yet balanced. Notes of lemon, peach and mineral. Citrusy finish. Just lovely.
A very balanced wine
In the bottle is 100% Chardonnay that has been dry farmed and aged for 9 months in oak (80% of the barrels are new French Oak – 20% is neutral). The color in the glass is like golden sunshine. The wine is full-bodied with great viscosity and mouth-feel. What I like to say about this Chardonnay is that it is a very balanced wine that doesn’t show too much of any single characteristic (butter, oak, or acidity), rather it is a perfect balance. On the palate, the notes are of green apples, pears, nectarines, and zesty citrus with undertones of brioche and vanilla. This wine is truly lovely on its own or with any of your favorite chicken or pork dishes. It can hold its own with pretty much anything you put with it. One of my favorite pairings is pork loin and mushroom risotto with this wine – heavenly.
Tasty and delicious
Light yellow in color with a golden tint. Strong nose of citrus, vanilla, oak, spices, yellow apples, white pepper, ripped melons, Mandarins, Mediterranean spices, almonds and white pepper. Full bodied, creamy and smooth, with medium plus acidity. Dry on the palate with lemons, citrus, green apples, pineapples, limes, light earth, light wood, spices and black pepper. Long finish with tangy limes. This is a fabulous Chardonnay from Spring Mountain District in Napa Valley. Nicely balanced and tangy. Showing nice complexity now, and is enjoyable by itself. Tasty and delicious.
Structured, balanced, intense, refreshing and just plain delicious
I recently wrote a story entitled “Have you found your way to Chardonnay? We Have!” I wrote that while Chardonnay is still one of the most widely planted grapes, as well as one of the world’s most popular grapes, as well as the queen of the white wines, it is still one of the most maligned grapes. But many of us know the beauty of the Chardonnay grape. If you are still in doubt, then try the Smith-Madrone 2016 Chardonnay from the Spring Mountain District in Napa Valley and you will fall in love with Chardonnay and understand why it is the Please The Palate's wine of the week. Located on Spring Mountain in Napa Valley, Smith-Madrone was established in 1971 by Stuart Smith and his brother Charles Smith. The densely forested property that they purchased was an abandoned vineyard. They logged the land and planted five acres each of Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. By 1989, the Pinot Noir was grafted to Chardonnay. Today Smith-Madrone has thirty-four acres planted with 10.25 acres of Chardonnay. A mountain vineyard, all of the grapes are planted on slopes and benefit from the cooler mountain climate. The Chardonnay is planted on the coolest north-facing slopes. The vines are planted in mostly deep-red Aiken Stoney Clay loam soils which are volcanic-based and well-drained. The Chardonnay is barrel fermented and spends nine months in French oak, of which 80 percent is new. Each year the wine is made from the same vineyards, pruned by the same people in the same way, cultivated in exactly the same manner and harvested at similar levels of maturity. The resulting wine is a reflection of the vintage. The 2016 growing season was described as “near perfect” with ideal weather conditions. The Smith-Madrone 2016 Estate Grown Chardonnay is a bright straw gold color. It has an intense nose with beautiful aromatics of peaches, apricot, pears, apple, lemon and toasted hazelnut. Even after nine months in 80 percent new oak, the oak is retrained and in balance. It does not dominate on the nose or the palate. The wine is creamy and rich on the mid-palate but the acidity of the wine is exceptional. The wine has a chalky finish and the bright fruit notes carry through to the end. The Smith-Madrone 2016 Estate Grown Chardonnay is structured, balanced, intense, refreshing and just plain delicious!
A fabulous Chardonnay
Light yellow in color with a golden tint. Strong nose of citrus, vanilla, oak, spices, yellow apples, white pepper, ripped melons, mandarins, Mediterranean spices, almonds and white pepper. Full bodied, creamy and smooth, with medium plus acidity. Dry on the palate with lemons, citrus, green apples, pineapples, limes, light earth, light wood, spices and black pepper. Long finish with tangy limes. This is a fabulous Chardonnay from Spring Mountain District in Napa Valley. Nicely balanced and tangy. Showing nice complexity now, and is enjoyable by itself. Would be nice to see how this continues to develop in the next few years. Tasty and delicious.
A fabulous Chardonnay from the Spring Mountain District
Light yellow in color with a golden tint. Strong nose of citrus, vanilla, oak, spices, yellow apples, white pepper, ripped melons, Mandarins, Mediterranean spices, almonds and white pepper. Full bodied, creamy and smooth, with medium plus acidity. Dry on the palate with lemons, citrus, green apples, pineapples, limes, light earth, light wood, spices and black pepper. Long finish with tangy limes. This is a fabulous Chardonnay from the Spring Mountain District in Napa Valley. Nicely balanced and tangy. Showing nice complexity now, and is enjoyable by itself. This four-year-old needs time open up. Good right out of the bottle, but really changed after an hour of airtime. It became a completely different wine. Lost almost all of its oak notes which I liked. So nice to see the evolution. Would be nice to see how this continues to develop in the next few years. Tasty and delicious.
A good wine needs to dance across the palate
100% Chardonnay that was dry-farmed, barrel-fermented, and aged in oak (80% new French barrels) for nine months. Only 831 cases made, which is a pity, because I could sip this rich, refreshing wine every day. I live in Miami and am always on the hunt for crisp, white wines to bring the temperature down. Napa Chardonnay doesn’t usually come to mind. This one, however, is a beauty. It hits the Goldilocks spot for me: lots of ripe white peach, apple, and pear, tons of zippy citrus, and lively, medium+ acidity. As Stu mentioned during the tasting, a good wine needs to dance across the palate, and acidity is the key. If you think you don’t like new world Chardonnay, I dare you to try it – if you can find a bottle.
Bravo, left my palate desiring another glass
Pale gold with green tinge, the nose offers apple, lemon pith, vanilla. On the palate, a beautiful lemon-lime with solid acidity. Excellent mid-palate that surpasses the normal California chardonnay default. Designed to be great by itself, and amazing with food. This is brilliant with blue cheese on a whole wheat cracker; I paired it the following night with baked chicken, greens and baked potato, and again the third evening with sashimi. In every instance, the wine excellent and left my palate desiring another glass, another bottle. Bravo. Smith-Madrone Chardonnay is among my top choices in the under $50 chardonnay from Napa.
Superb value...you have my heart
In two words? Superb value... You can find this bottle on a retail shelf for the price of a Bourgogne Blanc.. My mind has been blown. Even in its infancy, this Chardonnay has so much character. I’ve certainly had many Grand Cru Burgundy of lesser quality. Not that they are the same, but qualitative checkpoints surpass. Luxuriously made with 80% new oak, it shows golden delicious apple. Ripe pear, peach, and lemon custard. Acidity is outstandingly fresh, which gives beautiful lift to the wine, and carries the finish on for more than 2 minutes... overall I am head over heels with this estate. Gone are the days where winemakers hold wines back until they are truly ready. Not only would that be a financial burden, but space can factor in as well. However, this 2016 is Smith Madrone’s current release. Coming from the Spring Mountain District in Napa Valley, this is from a dry farmed vineyard and minimal producing. Only 831 cases. Not sure how they are doing it but wow. You have my heart.
A very long finish
Golden yellow in the glass with aromas of citrus, cedar and toast. Generous flavors of pear, crisp apple, and citrus blend with notes of cedar and are supported by bright, juicy acidity. The wine is a bit round with a very long finish.