Wednesday, February 28, 2018

"Wood" You Like Some Chardonnay?

In St. Helena, 1,800 feet up Napa Valley's Spring Mountain, Charles and Stuart Smith started Smith-Madrone Winery more than four decades ago, when there was still room at the top in the "pioneer" field.  The winery's name is a tip of the winemaker's hat to the Smith brothers, and to the madrone trees that populate the property.

Smith-Madrone Chardonnay, Napa Valley Spring Mountain District 2015

This lush 100% Chardonnay is from grapes grown in Napa's Spring Mountain District.  They harvested smaller clusters in the 2015 vintage, so flavors are a bit more concentrated.  Aging took place over 10 months in barrels, with 80% new French oak used.  The alcohol hits a hefty 14.9% abv and 512 cases were made.  It retails for $34.

Golden, the oak shows even before the first sniff.  It's a fairly oaky nose, with apricot and mango fighting through.  Lemon and orange appear on the palate, with enough zip to the acidity that it does not seem flabby.  The oak, though, will be an issue to those who like a lean, clean Chardonnay machine.  I'm tasting this in late February, and I typically like oakier Chardonnays more in the holiday season.  Oh, well, the Christmas tree is still up, so it's all good. :)

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