Notes of lemon curd, green apple, dried pineapple, candle wax and custard.
91 points: Creamy and mellow with a sweet-tart aftertaste and notes of lemon curd, green apple, dried pineapple, candle wax and custard.
Warm weather was made for the 2017 Smith-Madrone Riesling with its sunny yellow peach, candied apricot, and honeysuckle notes, and wet slate minerality. Smith-Madrone specializes in dry farming techniques. This medium-weight wine that boasts a hint of petrol on the nose, a hallmark of Rieslings, was produced by Smith-Madrone Vineyards in St. Helena. Operated by brothers Stuart and Charles Smith, it’s a winery that specialize in dry farming that not only conserves water, but concentrates the flavor of the grapes. This lovely aromatic wine, of which I received a sample, is ideal with any Asian dishes that have a touch of sweetness or spiciness, from green papaya salad and sweet & sour pork to fish tikka and fresh rice paper spring rolls.
Cheers: The hyphenated name of the winery is first and foremost based on the brothers’ surname. But the second part comes from the variety of evergreen tree that grows predominantly on the ranch. How fun is that?
The 2016 Riesling is extremely aromatic with floral notes and green apple on the nose. A light golden yellow straw color and medium viscosity. On the palate, strong lime, mixed with stone fruits (white peach and apricots) tame the lime citrus. On the finish, the minerality comes through strong and pure from either the volcanic soil, or sandstone, limestone or the general rocky soil found on the property. The minerality and acidity is jovial and enticing with a semi-sweet crescendo. This wine was pulled from the cellar for last night’s meal due to the spiciness of the dish called Pad Thai Shrimp. The ingredients were flat rice noodles, virgin oil, minced garlic, uncooked shrimp, eggs, bean sprouts, red bell pepper, green onions, peanuts, chopped cilantro and lime juice. The Pad Thai sauce included fish sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, Sriracha and creamy peanut butter! Limes were plated to squeeze the juice over the top of the dish. Accompanied the meal was a fresh garden salad with an Asian dressing. The meal packed a punch of flavor and warmth! The 2016 Smith-Madrone Riesling was a godsend. The wine was refreshing and quenched the palate. The semi-sweet finish was spot on for this meal!
Smith-Madrone Vineyards is located on 200 acres on top of Spring Mountain west of St. Helena with 38 acres planted in vineyards. The vineyard elevation ranges from 1,300 to 2,000 feet. The founder, managing partner and enologist is Stuart Smith and Charles Smith is the winemaker. Truly a family affair! All the wines are estate and dry-farmed on top of the mountain. Annual production is between 3,000 to 4,000 cases a year. Currently they are producing Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and their iconic Cook’s Flat (blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc).
Wonderful wine with mountain flavors
Smith Madrone’s 9 acres of dry-farmed Riesling vines on Spring Mountain make wonderful wine. First impressions include yellow grapefruit and honeysuckle, then with time comes citrus zest, bay leaves, orchard fruits and “mountain flavors” for lack of a better descriptor. Riesling is a natural with Thai dishes, especially where coconut milk is involved. Add on the kale sweet potato, lime, mushrooms and aromatic herbs for a great Riesling match.
96 points: I generally reserve scores above 94 points for wines that have the capacity to not only be delightful at present but also have the structure to age gracefully over several years. To see this number on a white wine is fairly rare in my backlog, but it’s there when it fits, as it certainly does here. The numbers help tell the story of this beautiful Riesling -- 3.05 pH, .898 TA (!) -- numbers typically seen only in sparkling wines due to early harvesting for high acidity. The 2017 is barely perceptibly sweeter than many of the previous vintages that I’ve had the opportunity to taste, but the impeccable balance will have you at the bottom of the bottle in no time. Tart apple, bright citrus, stony minerality and incredible finish push are the hallmarks here, and they promise to reward well into the future, which of course means that a case or two are in order.
94 points: light, complex and silky
94 points: This atypical variety for the area shines from the producer's steep, dry-farmed estate vineyard. Light, complex and silky on the waxy palate, it offers flavors of green apple, apricot and grapefruit alongside touches of honey and wet stone.
One of the best Rieslings in the world
One of the best Rieslings in the world. Can an amazing Riesling be made outside of Germany? Taste this 2017 Smith-Madrone Riesling from Napa Valley and decide for yourself. In my book, this is one of the few Rieslings which I would be delighted to drink any day and every day.
A touch of honey and petrol on the nose make me not want to put down the glass ever. A distant honey note and clean acidity on the palate together with impeccable balance make this a “dangerous wine” - the wine which is gone before you notice that it is gone.
What more could you want from a Riesling?
92 points: Crisp, elegant, and refreshing - even at four years of age - this is straightforward and true to the variety while being both sophisticated and very approachable. What more could you want from a producer or wine? And then there's the quenching acidity and very subtle industrial funk - catnip for any wine nerd. Yum. I'm not sure there's another domestic riesling I enjoy vintage after vintage as much as this one. Pricey, but worth it.
Compelling, beautiful, elegant, crisp
Highly recommended - the kind of wine that people who don't think they like riesling should try
Smith-Madrone’s riesling is a top-notch New World take on a classic grape: Once more into the riesling breach, dear readers: And why not? I’ve probably tasted more rieslings over the past 18 months than I have in the blog’s entire 14 year history. And I’ve rarely been disappointed. The Smith-Madrone, despite California’s lackluster track record with the grape, is just one more reason to sip and smile. This wine combines New World-style fruitiness with the varietal characteristics that make great riesling so much fun to drink. In other words, not sweet for the sake of sweetness, and not some kind of fruity confection because, you know, that’s what Americans drink. Look for lime zest, a bit of tingliness in the back, a hint of petrol, some sweetness floating around to remind you it’s riesling, just enough acidity to greet the sweetness, and stoniness in the finish. In fact, this is one of the few times where the wine geek descriptor “wet stone” almost makes sense. Highly recommended – the kind of wine that people who don’t think they like riesling should try. Even the very tough crowd on CellarTracker (the blog’s unofficial wine inventory app) likes this wine. And they usually only like high-end Napa wines.
From mountain vineyard maestros....
Northern California wine world, the idea of cold-weather-adoring riesling vines thriving in the sun-drenched Napa Valley is certainly near the top. It seems like a terroir odd couple, but a handful of Napa Valley producers — led by this Spring Mountain District legend celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2021 — have the steep terrain and temperate conditions to let riesling thrive. The 2017 from Smith- Madrone’s estate high above St. Helena is an exemplary version of a bright, balanced riesling, courtesy of mountain vineyard maestros Stu, Charles and Sam Smith. The nose approaches with a touch of tar and citrus oil, leading to ripe peach and bay leaf notes and concluding in a finish that conjures up melon draped with prosciutto. Move over chilled rosé — this is definitely the wine to pair with some sausages off the grill and fresh corn on the cob by the pool this summer.
Run, don't walk, to snag a bottle
It’s hard to imagine such a classic riesling grown up the mountain in St. Helena. This charmer, with a silky texture and deep flavors of grapefruit and citrus, has a good dose of acidity to pair with your favorite summer foods, such as grilled seafood, goat cheese, or a garden-fresh summer salad. Fewer than 1,500 cases are made so run, don’t walk, to snag one.
WOW! A classically beautiful Riesling
95 points: The wine is 100% Riesling and produced from the same Spring Mountain vineyards, in the same way every year, yet the wines continually offer new characteristics every vintage. This Riesling has a light straw core with light legs. The nose offers wet rocks, white flowers, cream and whiffs of petrol. The palate has medium intensity with flavors of Granny Smith apples, orange blossoms and Bosc pear that jump into medium-plus acidity and tinges of honeysuckle. The finish is balanced and lip-smacking with touches of lime custard, minerals and petrol. A classically beautiful Riesling. WOW!
Good acidity and balance
The wine showed a bright yellow color. Pear, apple, lemon, petrol and citron all arrived on the nose. Pear, lemon curd, peach, citron and hints of dried apricot followed on a palate that began with pear and citrus and meandered its way to just a hint of dried stone fruit. The wine exhibited good acidity and balance. It was light-bodied and demonstrated good length. This wine would do as well as an aperitif as it would alongside a classic dim sum dish - Har Gow (shrimp dumplings).
One of our favorite California Rieslings year after year
94 points: Grapes grown on steep mountain vineyards continue to create one of our favorite California Rieslings year after year. Aromas of beeswax, buttercup and wet stone are enticing, and flavors of passion fruit are accentuated by fine acidity and a remarkable mouthfeel. Daisy, lemon blossom and freshly sliced Anjou pear feel serene as saltiness refreshes the palate, urging another sip.
Consistently one of the most exciting California Rieslings
94 points: Smith-Madrone’s Spring Mountain Riesling does it again; it is consistently one of the most exciting California Rieslings I’ve come across. Light yellow color. Aromas of gorgeous limes, orange peels, exquisite fruit mixed with white flowers, new tennis balls, wild mint, with chalky and saline tones. Pristine acidity, zesty, a chalky and salty appeal with white flowers, white pepper and wild green onion tones. Lime, orange and kiwi fruit provide generous support for this intense but refined wine. Perfume, focused, dry yet ripe, this is complex and age-worthy, and a consistently spectacular California Riesling.
Truly an exceptional wine
Wow, what a surprise! All of us were anticipating a sweet wine that we would try to move quickly beyond. Not the case here! Stu’s passion for this varietal is strong as he speaks about this Alsace style wine. A beautiful dry wine with a floral and peachy bouquet. Smith-Madrone is one of the last wineries in Napa to grow this grape. If you gravitate towards red wines, then this white wine might be an OMG moment for you. Truly an exceptional wine.
94 points: a showstopper!
94 points: A show-stopper! The lovely candied-orange and orange-cream nose leads you into the succulent palate, which has a wonderful combination of vibrancy and concentration, the kind of which you don’t expect from a Californian riesling. The hint of tannin is as well integrated as the racy acidity, and all this pulls together on the powerful, mineral finish. Drink or hold.
Exuberance on the palate
Fruity and floral but mostly dry, this riesling is a crowd pleaser with an exuberance on the palate that features lemons, figs, gooseberry, and melon notes. Lots of honey on the palate as the wine develops, sweetening up and showing more fruit and just a hint of oxidation. There’s also some saline minerality here, which is effective at brightening up the wine and giving it a sunny and satisfying sense of balance on the finish
91 points: Pale lemon in color with a yellow tint. Pretty nose of lemons, citrus, yellow apples, diesel, light tangerines, light river rocks, spices and minerals. Medium plus in body with high acidity. Dry on the palate with citrus, spices, lemons, apples, light earth, minerals, light sea salt and white pepper. Tangy finish with limes and grapefruit. This is a delicious Riesling from Spring Mountain District in Napa Valley. Showing mild complexity with a nice mouthfeel. Still young and would benefit from a a few years in the bottle. Already drinking nicely with nice balance. Good by itself or with food, and better after 45 minutes of airtime. Very yummy. A great sipping wine and a good pool wine too. Fresh with a dry finish.
Pale gold with a hint of green, this wine smells of melted candle wax, tangerine pith, and a touch of white flowers. In the mouth, that paraffin quality continues, along with flavors of Asian pear, mandarin oranges, grapefruit, and white flowers. Wonderfully balanced, with just the barest hint of sweetness amidst the racy, mouthwatering acidity. Quite delicious, as usual, with great aging potential….It’s a classic Napa interpretation of Riesling produced unerringly every year by Smith-Madrone up on Spring Mountain, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary. Stu and Charlie Smith (joined in 2010 by Stu’s son Sam) have been making this wine for decades, and thankfully haven’t stopped, despite the vines being planted in what some might consider prime Cabernet country. Varietally correct and wonderfully delicious, it’s a wine that will please the fussiest of Riesling lovers.
Brilliant golden color with concentrated flavors of pineapple and more
Brilliant golden color in the glass with concentrated flavors of pineapple, apricot, ripe pear, petrol and crushed gravel. Notable acidity keeps me salivating. The color is darker and the flavors have become considerably more concentrated since we first tasted this wine in 2016. During that visit we tasted the Smith-Madrone 2013 and 2014 Rieslings together. This 2013 Riesling was lush compared to the more austere 2014. Charles told us, “At the 20-year mark the 2013 will be insanely delicious. The 2014 will have 10 years to go.” Clearly we didn’t make the 20-year mark, but we have no regrets because this Riesling is pretty darn delicious right now.
Not only is this Riesling delicious on its own, it makes a brilliant dinner partner. I put together a simple pasta dish that has me thinking of springtime - creamy pasta with peas and prosciutto. The acidity of the Riesling is even more notable when paired with creamy pasta.
We found this beauty we purchased several years ago when we visited Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery in Napa’s Spring Mountain District. Riesling might not be the first variety you think of in Napa, but it’s the first wine Stuart and Charles Smith made in the early ‘70s. The brothers have a serious appreciation and respect for Riesling and know how to craft bright, brilliant, flavorful Riesling.
Generous and juicy acidity
Light golden color in the glass with aromas of petrol and stone fruit. Flavors follow with white peach and pear, stony minerality with a bit of roundness in the mouth. The fruit flavors might lead you to think the wine is off-dry but the finish tastes dry with generous and juicy acidity. This Riesling has just been released. Obviously, the Smiths don’t rush their winemaking. The flavors are lively, with a bit of roundness in the mouth and notable acidity. It is a pleasure to sip on its own and it loves food. The first evening we enjoyed this wine with Thai Peanut Chicken Salad in Butter Lettuce. The richness of chicken from coconut milk and peanut butter was perfectly balanced by the acidity and flavors of the Riesling. On the second evening we sipped this charming Riesling with guacamole and chips. Should you have the restraint to make this Riesling last, it will be delicious for several days corked and stored in the refrigerator.
Steeeeeeeep slopes pay
Fantastically pure and crisp, grapefruit and stones, texture and spirit, zest. A precise white screamer in the best way. Steeeeeeeeep slopes pay.
Absolutely gorgeous. Aromas are delicate and evocative of spring flowers, including rose and jasmine. On the palate, the wine is bright, refreshing, delicate and engaging, with flavors of honeysuckle, white grapefruit, Meyer lemon, lime, peach, cantaloupe, white pineapple, sweet orange zest and hints of minerality suggestive of celery. It is a beautiful expression of this varietal and how it blossoms into its full self in rocky mountain vineyards. This dry riesling has broad appeal at the table.