Chardonnay Reviews

CaliforniaDateNight, August 3, 2021

An absolute stunner

2017 Chardonnay

Add this gorgeous old world style Estate Grown Chardonnay from Smith-Madrone in the Spring Mountain District of Napa Valley to your next summer picnic date and thank us later! This is what Chardonnay is supposed to taste like…. This mineral driven wine has layers of golden apple, stone fruits, butterscotch, vanilla and lemon curd with a bit of nuttiness on the finish. These elements work together, none overwhelming the others. The rich flavors are delicately restrained by the acidic bite by which it pays homage to the grape’s French background. An absolute stunner! The Smith-Madrone Chardonnay will pair nicely with rich semi-soft cheeses, grilled chicken dishes or a creamy Pasta Carbonara.

The Wine Guys, August 5, 2021

Everything we want in California Chardonnay

2017 Chardonnay

94 points:  Trends are temporary, but old school is here to stay—and with this Chardonnay from Smith Madrone, it’s everything we want in California Chardonnay. Notes of Meyer lemon, lemon curd, white florals toasted oak, crushed rock, citrus peel, apple, and hazelnut. Lucious and rich orchard fruit on the palate that gives an upfront weight which screams California until you reach that mid-palate with warm, toasty aromas that gets enveloped with a wave of acidity. Well structured, we found that the wine really came into form on day two—when we left about half the bottle out. More of that stony mineral notes near the finish that really cleans up the character of this wine. One of the great Chardonnays of Napa, and a true gem for the price. Classic California, give it an hour or two in the decanter if you can.

Brianne Cohen, Bri's Best Bottles, June 16, 2021

Restrained and Old World in style

2017 Chardonnay

Smith-Madrone is a pioneer of Napa Valley, especially Spring Mountain, which can be cooler than the rest of the Valley because of elevation. A Napa Chardonnay for those who don’t dig Napa Chardonnay. Restrained and Old World in style. The fermentation starts in stainless steel tanks and then moves to barrel to complete the fermentation. It is then aged in 85% new French oak for 10 months. How do we get a “not too oaky” Chardonnay with that much new oak? The secret is that they source tightly grained barrels, which impart less oak aromas and flavors than looser grained ones. I learned something new today with that tidbit!

MyRedWineGuys, June 3, 2021

A wine for the Chardonnay lover

2015 Chardonnay

With the first smell and taste you can tell this clear golden wine was aged in French oak. Not a butter bomb by all means, but definitely a wine for the Chardonnay lover.

Rich Mauro, Colorado Springs Gazette, June 3, 2021

A fabulous value

2017 Chardonnay

From a dry farmed, mountain-grown estate vineyard, the wine shows light oak notes preceding intense, tangy fruit, a touch of almond and a graceful palate. A fabulous value.

The Chalk Report, Andy Chalk, May 26, 2021

Lasting and satisfying

2017 Chardonnay

Consistency might be the watchword at Smith-Madrone, a winery that perennially turns out good quality wines at non-stratospheric prices. This chardonnay will win over most schools of chardonnay lover. While in an indubitably New World style it doesn’t mask the intrinsic qualities of this remarkable grape, resulting in satisfaction on several levels. Appearance: Deep gold. Nose: Intense tropical fruit (mango, pineapple). Lemon, ripe apricot, vanilla. Palate: As well as confirming the fruit in the nose this wine has a pronounced phenolic backbone. This translates into a lasting, satisfying finish.

Drinkhacker, Christopher Null, May 13, 2021

A distinct food-friendliness

2017 Chardonnay

A touch of spice up top gives this fairly traditional, moderately oaked chardonnay some pep, with thick notes of vanilla and a solid punch of lemon curd quickly developing on the palate. Some melon and strong honeysuckle notes emerge on the finish, with biting acidity and added lemon peel notes giving the wine a distinct food-friendliness.

John Jackson, April 25, 2021, AttorneySomm Instagram

Impressive, full bodies and opulent, yet well-balanced with ample acidity

2017 Chardonnay

I recently tasted the 2017 Chardonnay. Smith-Madrone has 7.5 acres of Chardonnay vines. Because Chardonnay performs best in cooler temperatures, these Chardonnay vines were strategically planted in the coolest vineyard on the estate with north-facing slopes.
The 2017 Chardonnay is impressive! The flavor profile was almost as rich as the golden hue. The intriguing flavor profile included pineapple, peach, Meyer lemon, blood orange peel, honeysuckle, oak and spice mix. There was a rich, creamy mouthful. This wine was full-bodied and opulent, yet well-balanced with ample acidity! This wine paired perfectly with perfect weather and a lazy Saturday on the patio!

The best view comes after the hardest climb. Or in the case of Napa's Spring Mountain, after a hard drive up a long and winding mountain road! But once you reach the summit you can enjoy spectacular views and equally impressive wines! Near the top of Spring Mountain, for example, you will find Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery. Founded 50 years ago, Smith-Madrone has 34 acres of vineyards on its 200-acre ranch. The vineyards are planted on steep slopes at elevations ranging from 1,300-2,000 feet. Smith-Madrone was an early proponent of dry farming. Dry farming causes the grapevines to struggle and search of water and nutrients. The result is lower yields with small grapes that have high skin-to-juice ratios and produce concentrated fruit. This fruit, in turn, leads to wine with greater intensity and concentration than wine made from grapes that are the product of high yields.

Kathleen Wilcox, April 22, 2021, Instagram

Caramelized white flowers

2017 Chardonnay

Sun-yellow, peaches, apricots, buttered toasted biscuits, caramelized white flowers, earth and pears.

EveWine101, Eve Bushman, April 16, 2021

Wowza, I want this one again

2017 Chardonnay

Sweet cream, vanilla bean, crème brûlée, unsweetened butter – just a lot of vanilla/dairy notes on the nose that I found really interesting. From there I also got toasted oak, caramel candy, fresh sliced apple and pears in light syrup. Wasn’t sure what to expect from the taste but in I went…and found a full and round mouthfeel, mild acidity – not as much creaminess as I expected from the nose but wholly pleasant – some earth, the pears and apple again as well as a hint of buttery corn on the cob. And hour later my husband and I were just finishing the bottle, and even with less chill on the wine, it was still being discussed. Wowza, I want this one again. I had this with a Falafel burger with lettuce, pickles and tomatoes. Again, it was perfect.

LM Archer Instagram, March 29, 2021

Vivid well-constructed wine

2017 Chardonnay

Ambered gold robe. Burled butterscotch, vanilla and creme brûlée on the nose. Unctuous golden apple and stone fruit compote on the palate, lingering through to the finish.
A vivid, well-constructed wine that pairs well with rich cheeses or creamy pasta dishes.

DrinkNatureInPhotography, February 23, 2021

Dancing with texture...really lovely on all accounts

2017 Chardonnay

Alluring and soft this delicious acid-driven Chardonnay, which is made from Smith Madrone's dry-farmed estate, has just the right amount of citrus, spice and smoke layered in with the green and stone fruit aromas and flavors. Tangy and dancing with texture from the barrel fermentation I really enjoyed the succulent finish and intriguing nuances that kept inviting me in for another sip. This Chardonnay was really lovely on all accounts

CaliforniaWinesandWineries, Michael Kelly, February 3, 2021

Layers of complexity and structure

2017 Chardonnay

Once in the glass you are greeted by a shiny golden straw color with light-medium viscosity. The clarity of the wine is pronounced.  On the nose, honeysuckle and a muted lemon are the key aromas. Once in the palate, this is where this “clean gem” shines. Light oak (aged 10 months in 85% new French), minerality (the entire estate is dry farmed), a light creaminess of beeswax with hints of green apple and peach. The finish is crisp and lively like an upbeat jazz tune. Layers of complexity and structure are evident in this wonderful wine. This is an excellent stand-alone sipping Chardonnay.

The food pairing was so appropriate with this clean wine. Paired with a straight forward charcuterie tray of Tillamook aged smoked cheddar and Kerry Irish cheddar cheeses.  Glazed pecans and crackers accompanied the wine and allowed it true character to shine through.

I was surprised and delighted by the uniqueness of this dry farmed Chardonnay (something you don’t find everyday) and its clarity and crispness was a welcomed embrace., Jeb Dunnuck, January 27, 2021

Fresh and lively on the palate with bright yet integrated acidity

2017 Chardonnay

Revealing a deeper gold hue, this has a slightly evolved style, yet it stays fresh and lively on the palate, with bright yet integrated acidity. Notes of caramelized orange brioche, marzipan and honeyed flowers give way to a medium-bodied, balanced Chardonnay that I suspect will age nicely for 4-6 years. 

Wine Enthusiast, Virginie Boone, March 2021

Graceful heartiness

2017 Chardonnay

94 points, Editors' Choice: This barrel-fermented white opens in oaky intensity before settling into flavors of kiwi, lime and green apple. Complex and structured, it has a graceful heartiness and offers tremendous value for the quality.

Tasting Panel Magazine, January-February 2021, Meredith May

A wine of distinction

2017 Chardonnay

93 points, 3 ½ kisses. The dry-farmed vines on the Smith family’s Spring Mountain estate produced this wine of distinction, whose accents of chamomile and lemon verbena on the nose lead to a palate of beeswax and stony minerality. Peach nectar enters midway, unleashing a flow of honey within an angular frame. Aged 10 months in 85% new French oak.

BiggerThanYourHead, Frederic Koeppel, December 15, 2020

Certainly one of the best chardonnays from California that I tasted this year

2017 Chardonnay

All the wines display a remarkable dedication to authenticity, integrity and terroir....

The Chardonnay feels so pure, so intense, so crystalline that it transcends categories and regions. It spent 10 months in French oak, 85 percent new barrels. The color is medium gold; notes of classic pineapple and grapefruit unfurl touches of cloves, sandalwood and jasmine, flint and crushed gravel; as with most great wines, it embodies paradoxes in an exquisite balance of tension and resolution, so while the texture is dense, almost talc-like in weight, it’s also sleek, lithe and supple, riven by a thread of bright acidity; a few moments in the glass bring out elements of lemon balm and lemon curd, quince and ginger, and a strain of sea-flecked iodine. Drink now through 2025 to ’27. Certainly one of the best chardonnays from California that I tasted this year. Exceptional. About $40, representing Good Value.

Wine1percent, Stephen McConnell, December 12, 2020

Beautiful on all accounts

2017 Chardonnay

Good lemon zest off a nose reflective of the deep golden color. Pitchy and green, a briar-asphalt coating to generous oak and dusty, lazy, warm summer sunshine. Dark roasted melon slowly deteriorates on compost–a welcome earthy counter-point to the well-dressed spice and generous Chardonnay fullness. Thick and full in the mouth–gobs more of that golden Chardonnay energy and decadence, powerfully tinged in acid and tannin. Cool, watery nectarine and a hint of pear flows over the middle, pungent green tea and white pepper don’t let you dabble on the fruit too long at this young age, swarming in and inundating the palate with depth and body–ushering in the tannin these wines are known for. Beautiful on all accounts, but a shame to drink Smith-Madrone chard at this age. Look at it as a barrel sample: purchase accordingly. One of those 20-year Chards, for sure. Buy two cases–drink one a year. Invite me over when you do it.

Vintage Experiences, Dan Berger, December 3, 2020

Stylish and exciting

2017 Chardonnay

The first word that comes to mind when you get a whiff of this stylish and exciting wine is that it reminds you of what Spring Mountain Chardonnays used to smell like in the days before everyone resorted to complete malolactic fermentations, higher alcohols, the use of the use of residual sugar, and new French oak to help cover the fruit. Yet another example of how stylish dry-farmed, mountain-grown Chardonnay can deliver a food-oriented, complete experience that holds together with great acidity and balance. Leaning a bit more toward Puligny than Batard, it in fact does have a very slight nod toward White Burgundy, and delivers a lot more after another couple of years in the bottle. This is a wine that does not need much chilling. 

Terroirist, Isaac Baker, November 14, 2020

Consistently an overperforming  Chardonnay that screams value

2017 Chardonnay

94 points. Deep yellow color. Inviting, complex aromas of apple butter, lemon curd, grapefruit zesty, topped in notes of honey, graham cracker, sea salt and ginger. Harmonious, complex nose for sure. Rich texture on the palate, the creaminess is matched by this racy, salty aesthetic. Lemon curd, yellow apple and apricot fruit meld well with white tea, graham cracker and ginger, along with these stony, mineral, mountain stream elements. Consistently, such an overperforming Chardonnay that screams value, and the 2017 is a really expressive, vibrant iteration. Aged 10 months in 85% new French oak.

WineReviewOnline, Rich Cook, September 29, 2020

96 points: a grand slam of a wine

2017 Chardonnay

96 points: There's nothing quite like local knowledge when it comes to being able to roll with what comes your way, and I can't think of anywhere that this could be more applicable than in the world of making truly fine wine.  As brothers Stu and Charlie Smith (and next generation son Sam) approach fifty years on Spring Mountain, it seems there's no curve ball that's been thrown their way that they can't manage to hit out of the park, so to speak. This vintage of the dry farmed estate grown Chardonnay is a grand slam of a wine, layered with complex apple, lemon and grilled pineapple fruit, well folded oak toast and racy acidity that just pumps the flavor mix endlessly. It's one of their riper Chardonnay offerings, but it's exquisitely managed and shows plenty of structure for aging. I could drink this bottle all the way down, but I think I'll use the rest to spread the gospel a little bit. Bravo!

Vinography, Alder Yarrow, September 6

Intense buttered popcorn and lemon curd flavors have a wonderfully saline quality that, along with excellent acidity, keeps the mouth-watering

2017 Chardonnay

Smith-Madrone has long been a favorite producer of mine up on Napa’s Spring Mountain. Their Chardonnay leans towards the richer side of the grape, but there’s plenty of acid and salinity in the wine to make it enjoyable. Light yellow-gold in color, this wine smells of buttered popcorn and butterscotch. In the mouth, intense buttered popcorn and lemon curd flavors have a wonderfully saline quality that, along with excellent acidity, keeps the mouth-watering. Notes of melted butter and toasted oak linger in the finish with a touch of grapefruit and a faint hint of alcoholic heat. Rich and on the ripe side, but quite tasty.

Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Peg Melnik, August 19, 2020

A juicy chardonnay, rich yet balanced

2017 Chardonnay

4 stars. A juicy chardonnay, rich yet balanced. Notes of lemon, peach and mineral. Citrusy finish. Just lovely.

WineTravelEats, Amber Burke, July 17, 2020

A very balanced wine

2016 Chardonnay

In the bottle is 100% Chardonnay that has been dry farmed and aged for 9 months in oak (80% of the barrels are new French Oak – 20% is neutral). The color in the glass is like golden sunshine. The wine is full-bodied with great viscosity and mouth-feel. What I like to say about this Chardonnay is that it is a very balanced wine that doesn’t show too much of any single characteristic (butter, oak, or acidity), rather it is a perfect balance. On the palate, the notes are of green apples, pears, nectarines, and zesty citrus with undertones of brioche and vanilla. This wine is truly lovely on its own or with any of your favorite chicken or pork dishes. It can hold its own with pretty much anything you put with it. One of my favorite pairings is pork loin and mushroom risotto with this wine – heavenly.

Oded's Wine Reviews, July 4, 2020

Tasty and delicious

2016 Chardonnay

Light yellow in color with a golden tint. Strong nose of citrus, vanilla, oak, spices, yellow apples, white pepper, ripped melons, Mandarins, Mediterranean spices, almonds and white pepper. Full bodied, creamy and smooth, with medium plus acidity. Dry on the palate with lemons, citrus, green apples, pineapples, limes, light earth, light wood, spices and black pepper. Long finish with tangy limes. This is a fabulous Chardonnay from Spring Mountain District in Napa Valley. Nicely balanced and tangy. Showing nice complexity now, and is enjoyable by itself. Tasty and delicious.

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