Reviewing the New Releases from Smith-Madrone

I’ve reviewed wines from Smith-Madrone before and have always appreciated them, not only for their outstanding flavor but also because their prices have always been accessible – especially for Napa wines. In this article I will taste three from their 2019 vintage: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling. Of the three I have to say it’s been their Estate Riesling that never fails to always really impress me. My tasting notes on all three are below, and below that is some remarkable Riesling news from the winery.


2019 Estate Chardonnay


Very bold gold color, with deeper gold edge. The nose was full of vanilla custard, honey, bruised Golden Delicious apple, bread yeast, cantaloupe melon, sawdust, and wet earth. The taste brought up memories for me of overripe pineapple, lemon tart, limeade, fleshy peach, and salted butter. The mouthfeel was both round and tangy, and the finish went on and on. I enjoyed this very much with a cheese and charcuterie board.

2019 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon


The color is very purple, and opaque. Aromas reminded me of blackberry jam on toast, blueberry, crushed brown leaves, red earth, and dark chocolate. On the mouth I noted a welcoming balance of dark berry fruit and mellow spices, as well as some of that chocolate I found on the nose, and medium tannins. It amazed me that the wine was so approachable now, meaning that you don’t have to cellar it before enjoying but you certainly can if that’s your preference. We had this with a nice steak dinner.

2019 Estate Riesling


Pale gold color, shiny and crystal clear. Noted honey, yellow flower, white peach, cherry, honeydew melon, talcum powder and clean wet stones on the nose. Beautiful mouthfeel with persistent flavors of Golden Delicious apple, lemon-lime soda, pear, and peach, all very fresh. Not your mother’s California Riesling, this one was bone dry. I could enjoy this alone; on this occasion we had it with a simple chicken taco salad.

Riesling News from Smith-Madrone

In recent news, we are grateful for a great honor the Riesling recently received. At the 2024 Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition in Houston in February the 2018 Smith-Madrone Riesling was awarded Reserve Grand Champion Best of Show (coming in 2nd out of almost 3,000 wines). At the Auction celebrating the Competition, a 9-liter bottle of this wine raised $225,000, the second highest amount for a lot in the history of the event; the purchaser was a consortium headed by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. More details are here:

Smith-Madrone intentionally grows Riesling in the international tradition of steep hillsides. Stuart and Charlie have been growing grapes and making wine in the Spring Mountain District in Napa Valley since 1971. Only 38 acres of the 160-acre mountain property are planted to vines. Vineyards are planted to a variety of elevations, slopes and exposures. 7 acres of Riesling are planted on the steepest part of the hillside vineyard (34% slope), at 1,300 to 1,900 feet above sea level, and mostly planted on its own roots.

The brothers like to say that Riesling is a paramount example of a wine that is ‘made’ in the vineyard because the winemaking is so straight forward. The grapes are pressed, go through a cold fermentation and are finished without malolactic fermentation, lees stirring or barrel aging, thus bearing out the concept that the wine is a pure expression of the grape.

Smith-Madrone is now releasing the 2019 Riesling. It’s made from the mountain slopes surrounding the winery at the top of the Spring Mountain District growing region. Winemaker Charles Smith describes it: Aromatically, the wine opens with Meyer lemons, pomelo, orange flowers and just a dab of mandarin orange hiding shyly behind a rose bush. This is all backed up with a solid dose of minerality. On the palate the wine is racy and beautifully balanced with a backbone of juicy fruit acidity. Wonderfully stylish and delicious and built to last. Drink now, or twenty years from now. Seriously.

Only 1,087 cases were made.  The appellation is Spring Mountain District. Blend: 100% Riesling. Alcohol: 13.3%. Harvested September 14 and 15, 2019. SRP: $40.00. Fact sheet is here:

Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in the first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Proof Awards, Cellarmasters, LA Wine Competition, Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email to ask a question about wine or spirits.