Monday, December 16, 2013

Big, Fruity Napa Valley Riesling From Smith-Madrone

In Napa Valley’s Spring Mountain District, brothers Stuart and Charles Smith run the Smith-Madrone Vineyards and Winery, established in 1971.  The winery was named for the forest of Madrone trees from which the vineyards were reclaimed, vineyards which were first planted to Riesling some forty years ago.

The Smith brothers don’t make a lot of wine, but that is not their goal.  They set out to “make artisanal wines which are distinctive and are an expression of both the vintage and us as vintners, but above all else, are wines which bring pleasure to the senses.”

The winemaking process seems less business to them than philosophy.  “Every year our 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, yet Mother Nature stamps each vintage with a unique set of flavors, senses and character. Vintage dating is a celebration of that uniqueness and diversity.”

The 2010 and 2011 vintages in Napa Valley were a bit of a challenge due to cooler weather through the season.  2012 got things back to normal, though.  The brothers explain: “Consistently fine weather from May through September had the Napa Valley winemaking community in a continual state of elation. All in all, the harvest could not have gone much better, as the quality of this wine readily demonstrates.”

While Smith-Madrone’s 2011 Riesling was all about the minerals in their “red and rocky volcanic soil,” coaxed along by the cooler mountain temperatures, their 2012 Riesling is a testament to fruit.  A sample was provided for the purpose of this article.

With ever so slightly less alcohol than last year’s Riesling, and a tad drier, the 2012 hits 12.5% abv with just over 0.4 residual sugar.  The estate wine is bottled under a natural cork.

Very pale in the glass, the nose simply bursts forth with juicy fruit.  Apples, citrus, pear and melon aromas all seem to be trying to elbow each other out of the way.  The promise of the fruity nose is delivered upon with a lovely palate, dry and tangy with brilliant acidity, but also adorned with the taste of red apples and lime peel.  It’s a food-friendly and refreshing white wine.


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