There is something special about Spring Mountain. Leaving behind Napa Valley’s floor, you carefully wind your way up to higher altitudes where a new world unfolds. And it’s not just scenery that is transformed; the distinctiveness of the wines bear out that change as well. I was recently sent a trio of samples from Smith-Madrone that exemplify this mountain environment and distinct ethos. My thoughts on each:
- 2012 Chardonnay ($32)
Pretty dang toasty, but with a very lime-y liveliness in both smell and finish that really balanced it out. A fascinating examples of Napa Chardonnay that keet me guessing (in a good way) with each sip. I imagine this being a nice wine to revisit in a year or two. OAK IS CHARDONNAY’S FRIEND.
- 2013 Riesling ($27)
Riesling? From Napa Valley? Fascinating! This dry wine had a fine amount of richness along with proud Riesling character. It’s a bit of a survivor, too, showing well even after being open for a week in the harsh, barren clime of my bachelor fridge. (Between the Tapatio and Sriracha, truth be told. Actually, it would be a great wine for spicy food.) Stuart Pigott, author of “Best White Wine on Earth: The Riesling Story” (read my interview with Pigott), calls Smith-Madrone “the unsung heroes of American Riesling” and puts their bottling in his global Top 20 Dry Rieslings list. ATTENTION ALL WINE GEEKS.
- 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon ($48)
I am hard-pressed to think of a better Napa Cab for under 50 bucks. This bottle of Smith-Madrone is a testament to both site and winemaking. And I am quite particular about Cabernet, truth be told. I like it to show true Cabernet character, which I define as having notes of wonderful green things. Like olives, herbs, mint, eucalyptus. Now, I’m not saying it should taste like vegetables, but this is the side of Cabernet that, when leaned towards, gets me excited. This bottle drank wonderfully for three days, was not lacking in richness, and delivered P-L-E-A-S-U-R-E. Stuff this in your stocking or, to be safe, put a case under your tree and enjoy how it develops over the years. On my triple buy scale it gets a BUY BUY BUY.
More Spring Mountain: Cain Vineyard and Winery: Truth in the Vineyards