Episode #53 Smith-Madrone Winery

Big wine, small lot, Napa vineyards, small price. Looking at the Smith brothers, you might mistake them for iron workers in Pittsburgh or mine workers in West Virginia. One sip of their wine and there is no mistaking that Stuart and Charles Smith are definitely wine makers!

Planted in 1971 Smith-Madrone Vineyards sits on 200 acres of steep hillside on top of Spring Mountain in Napa Valley. The vineyards consist of 13 acres of Chardonnay, 13 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and 7 acres of Riesling. With less than 5000 cases of wine made each year, attention to detail stands out with these wines. Brothers, Charles Smith (the winemaker) – former school teacher and international croquet player – and Stu Smith (vineyard manager) – graduate of enology and viticulture from U.C. Davis, make wine that showcases the beauty of their vineyard.

In doing research for this review, two things stood out:

1)    The reference to wine bloggers in the tasting notes. (Joe from www.1winedude.com was referenced in the recent Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon release notes)

2)    This quote: “Let me make an analogy with the “Wizard of Oz” to the wine business. Like the Scarecrow, the wine industry is mindlessly making wines to achieve some vaunted number, thus the resulting wines, like the Tin Man, have no heart. I can only hope that the Cowardly Lion will find his courage and roar his defiance and independence by making wines of balance, complexity and nuance. The witch would be (wine critic) Robert Parker because he’s the cause of all this stuff.”

The NectarView

2007 Smith-Madrone Chardonnay

  • The Stuff: 100% estate Chardonnay, 11 months in oak, 754 cases, 14.3%abv
  • The Swirl: Pale gold color with hints of thicker viscosity, clean and clear
  • The Sniff: muted undertones of toast, pear, and citrus fruits. Pleasing and crisp
  • The Sip: Slightly effervescent and very crispy pear and citrus. A good thickness indicative of a Chardonnay, but could be mis-diagnosed during a blind tasting as a Sauvignon Blanc. Excellent acid with finish of stone minerality.
  • The Score: At $30, slightly more than I would pay for a quality Chardonnay, but a good score of 4 out of 5. One of the better Chardonnay’s I’ve had from the 2007 vintage.

Cellar Tracker Scores – 90 pts (3 reviews)

2004 Smith Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon

  • The Stuff:82% Cab , 8% Merlot, 10% Cab Franc; 22 months in American oak, 2164 cases, 13.9%abv 
  • The Swirl: Dark inky plum with some brilliant bright purple undertones. Nice ruby colors toward the edges, opaque.
  • The Sniff: The hills are alive with bright cherry fruit, earthy evergreen trees and smoky tobacco. A bouquet that causes you to get lost in time, forgetting the final stages of sip and spit.
  • The Sip: The flavor profile was slightly off balance with a good earthiness on the front end but a hollow mid-palate that lacked the fruit. The finish did show off  cedar chocolate covered cherry finish with good tannin structure. The wine could show very well in 3-5 years.
  • The Score: At $45, I can score this a 3 (out of 5). The sour burnt cherry and hollow mid-palate lowered the score a bit at this price range.

Wine and Spirits 90 points; No 2004 Cellar Tracker reviews

*Wine provided as a sample with the intent to review


Owner of Nectar Tasting Room in Spokane, WA. (@nectarwine) Publisher of Spokane Wine Magazine (@spowinemag), author, speaker, consultant and internet marketer with Nectar Media (@nectarmedia)

7 comments on “Episode #53 Smith-Madrone Winery

  1. 1WineDude

    Man, I gotta watch what I say now because folks are quoting me? Crap, this is getting serious! :)

    1. drinknectar

      Don’t you know it. It was pretty cool looking through the lit on the web and seeing your review. I remember when you did that one too.


    1. drinknectar

      Thanks, Chris. I’ll have to check out the podcast. From everything I’ve read/seen from these guys, they are extremely passionate about what they do.


  2. Michael Hughes

    I absolutely adore the Smith Madrone Riesling. I wish I could get the Memphis distributor who reps them to get it back in. One of the best new world rieslings out there!

    1. drinknectar

      Michael, I have the Riesling ready to review with two other Rieslings. Stay tuned!

  3. Pingback: Episode #64 Three Riesling, Three States | Drink Nectar

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