Chardonnay Reviews

Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, April 30, 2020

A great example of a bold, juicy, full-bodied wine that achieves balance

2016 Chardonnay

A great example of a bold, juicy, full-bodied wine that achieves balance. The nose gives the impression of salted clarified butter and peaches, leading into a palate of lemon curd, mango and toasted nuts. Gratifying, but refreshing enough that you can’t help but take another sip.

RedWinePlease, Neil & Cheri Dubois April 25, 2020

Very complex, very smooth

2016 Chardonnay

A wine of light, golden yellow color, and quite brilliant. This has medium oak on the nose, along with ripe apple, peach syrup and lemon. Throw in some wet stones. The palate has white peaches, and lemon again at the end. This is very complex, very smooth, has a rich and creamy palate and still remains fresh. It also is very long.

Decanter Magazine, Elin McCoy, February 2020

Spicy and succulent

2016 Chardonnay

91 points: The vintage had a near perfect growing season, ideal for Smith-Madrone’s Chardonnay style, a mid-point between California’s opulent stereotype and a new, fresher, more vibrant one. Barrel-fermented, and aged in 80% new French oak, it’s spicy and succulent, with aromas of hazelnut and lemon curd and a creamy texture that doesn’t weigh it down. Drinking Window 2019 - 2025.

Isante. Catherine Fallis, February 21, 2020


2016 Chardonnay

The nose is complex and beautiful. Bold out of the bottle, it mellows nicely in the glass. Aromas include just-ripe yellow apple and pear, baking spice, a chiffonade of mint, lightly toasted almond, and sweet cream. The palate is mouthwatering with tangier fruit and fine, silky texture.

Winethropology, Steve McIntosh, February 1, 2020

Massive rich ripe fruit

2016 Chardonnay

Massive, rich, ripe fruit offering extracted voluptuousness and a powerful punch.

I-WineReview, Don Winkler, January 22, 2020

Classic California Chardonnay at its best

2016 Chardonnay

Medium yellow gold. Sourced from dry farmed estate vines on Spring Mountain, this is classic California Chardonnay at its best. Richly fragrant of honeysuckle, smoky oak and ripe stone fruit and incredibly smooth and balanced on the palate with uplifting bright lemony acidity, beautifully integrated flavors, and a tangy, long lasting finish.  Barrel fermented and then matured another 9 months in 80% new French oak.  Very reasonably priced given the quality!

Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Peg Melnik, January 15, 2020

Pitch-perfect balance.

2016 Chardonnay

★★★★★: This is a tasty chardonnay with green apple and stone fruit upfront. Notes of grapefruit and spices play back up. Pitch-perfect balance. Lovely.

Advinetures, Alison and Chris Wallace, May 22, 2019

Texture is simply spectacular

2016 Chardonnay

Extraordinary: Wow! This is why California Chardonnay, in the hands of the top growers, can compete on the world stage with the very best. Gold in colour, we pick up bruised apple, stone fruit, melon and hints of tropical fruit. The texture of this wine is simply spectacular. The gorgeous mouth-feel is full and round and the back-end acidity maintains precise definition and gives this wine perfect balance. The Smiths found the fulcrum with this wine! The finish goes on and on and is infused with hints of mineral and lemon zest. At the winery when we tasted it we rated it Excellent/Extraordinary. We took a bottle to dinner that night. With food, this wine really shone and pushed up our rating.

Washington Wine Blog, Owen Bargreen, January 8, 2020

Texture really impresses

2016 Chardonnay

92 points: Aromas of buttered popcorn and roasted hazelnuts offer intrigue on the nose. The freshness and power of the wine is fantastic as ripe vanilla cream and butterscotch flavors mingle with nutty and earthy undertones. The texture really impresses here as this beautiful wine will cellar well for the next decade, picking up tertiary characters as it ages. Drink 2019-2029.

Fred Swan, January 7, 2020

Complex and beautiful

2016 Chardonnay

Smith-Madrone is an extremely reliable producer of excellent Chardonnay that is generous, but well-balanced. The wines have plenty of acidity, but are intended for relatively near-term enjoyment, rather than long aging. The 2016 is a great example of their style. The nose is complex and beautiful. It’s bold out of the bottle, then mellows nicely in the glass. Aromas include just-ripe yellow apple and pear, baking spice, a chiffonade of mint, lightly toasted almond, and sweet cream. The palate is mouthwatering and features tangier fruit—lemon and green apple—along with the baking spice and sweet cream. Body is medium-plus and there’s the texture of fine, grippy silk holding everything together harmoniously. Drink now through 2022.

Terroirist, Isaac Baker, December 14, 2019

Racy acidity that keeps it bright and lofty

2016 Chardonnay

93 points: Nuanced aromas of honey, warm tea, almond, with sea salt, crushed chalk, yellow apples and pears. Full but integrated so well, with deep texture, but this racy acidity that keeps it bright and lofty. Glazed apples, candied orange peel, lemon, the fruit mixes well with these salty, chalky, rocky, mineral elements. Lovely stuff that should age wonderfully. From their dry-farmed vineyard, barrel-fermented, aged nine months in 80% new French oak., February 6, 2019


2016 Chardonnay

91 points: Grapefruit, kiwi fruit, fresh cloves, spices and smoke are the main attraction on the nose. A tangy core of stone and green fruit is supported by crunchy acidity on the palate, which is medium-to full-bodied and delicious. Drink now., Cori Solomon, November 26, 2019

Subtle in its style, well-integrated acidity

2016 Chardonnay

I consider this Chardonnay from the Spring Mountain District very subtle in its style and not overwhelming. Although the wine ferments in 80% new French oak and then is aged for nine months, you cannot tell because the wine is not oaky at all. With a nice well-integrated acidity the wine exhibits aromas of pear and flavors of pear and lemon., Rich Cook, November 26, 2019

95 points and a command performance that's destined to resonate for years

2016 Chardonnay

95 points

I’ve been raving about Smith-Madrone for some years now, and I won’t be slowing down any time soon.  I got a sneak preview of this wine last fall, and it has certainly lived up to its initial flash.  Dry farmed and barrel fermented, it’s then aged in mostly new French oak, which might lead you to expect overt wood influence.  That’s not at all the case here, with singing lemon forward fruit soloing above supportive yet nuanced oak spice and a trumpet section of acidity that gives the wine a great finish and push through to the bold finale.  Bravo once again to the Smith clan for a command performance that’s destined to resonate for years.

Grape-Experiences. November 21, 2019, Cindy Rynning

Balanced and structured, distinctive terroir

2016 Chardonnay

This is a wine you’ll swirl and sip on a regular basis. Of 100% Chardonnay that was barrel fermented for 9 months in French oak, intense aromas of butter, toast, golden apple, lemon, white peaches, yellow flowers and herbs were clearly present. Balanced and structured with a creamy, round mouthfeel, its moderate acidity was on point and flavors of overripe, juicy peaches, peach flesh, and herbs reflected the distinctive terroir of well-drained, volcanic based soils.

Wine Enthusiast, Virginie Boone, December 2019

94 points, Cellar Selection, gorgeous, acid-driven

2016 Chardonnay

94 points, Cellar Selection: This gorgeous, acid-driven Chardonnay is made from the producer's dry-farmed estate. Stone, apricot, apple, pear and fig ride along a focused, linear palate. Barrel fermentation has lent texture and nuance without distraction. It finishes succulent, soft and inviting.

NittanyEpicurean, Michael Chelus, October 14

Good acidity and balance

2016 Chardonnay

This wine is 100% estate grown chardonnay. The wine showed a golden color. Apple, like zest, lemon and oak all arrived on the nose. Apple, blood orange, pithy lemon, limestone and oak followed on a palate where citrus stole the show. The wine exhibited good acidity and balance, along with good length and light-bodied. This wine would do well as an aperitif and would pair nicely with a stuffed turkey breast.

Vinography, Alder Yarrow, September 21, 2019

Classically influenced California Chardonnay

2016 Chardonnay

....the latest vintage from Smith Madrone, who make a classically influenced California Chardonnay that will satisfy those who are looking for slightly less oak influence but still hope to have the richness that has come to characterize the form....

Light yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd and a touch of caramelized oak. In the mouth, bright lemon curd flavors mix with a hint of butterscotch and toasted oak. As usual, this wine walks the line between the fresher, brighter style of Napa Chardonnay and old school richness.

Purely Domestic Wine Report, p. 42, Issue 7.4, September 2019

94 points, exceptional mouthfeel and texture

2016 Chardonnay

94 points: The nose is a deep, oily lemon and hazelnut with notes of dry chalk, buttercream, licorice, sap and whiffs of toffee. The palate entry is a lean, pure white pear and citrus with a core of mouth-coating peach and lemon cream. Exceptional mouthfeel and texture. Drink 2019 – 2027.

Terroirist, Isaac Baker, August 24, 2019

Gorgeous deep yet vibrant

2016 Chardonnay

Light yellow color. Aromas of juicy yellow apples topped in complex notes of honey, almond, cinnamon, sea salt, hay and chalk dust. Deep texture on the palate with pretty acidity and lovely balance. Yellow apples, candied lemons, orange peel and apricot, juicy and fruity but also airy and elegant. Salty, minerals, chalky, with notes of honey, nougat and hay. Gorgeous, deep, yet vibrant. Another beautiful Chardonnay from Smith-Madrone.  I’d love to age this for five years. 

Anyway… Smith-Madrone’s Spring Mountain wines are consistently some of my favorite from Napa, and I love their Chardonnay and Riesling in particular. So, since I tasted these wines sighted, I tried to approach them with as much skepticism as possible. That said, the 2016s showed wonderfully. Crystal clear, pristine wines, and both are worthy for serious cellar time. Especially considering the price, I’m still amazed these wines exist.

EllenOnWine, Ellen Landis, July 30, 2019

Rich and mouth-filling with perfect acidity

2016 Chardonnay

 A brilliant hue captures the eye, and scents of lemon-splashed stone fruit awaken the nose as this sophisticated Chardonnay is poured from the bottle.  Peach flavors are mirrored on the palate, melding with Honeycrisp apple, citrus, herbal accents, and beautiful oak spice nuances.  Rich and mouth-filling, with perfect acidity offsetting the juicy fruit through the long memorable finish

Stephen McConnell, June 20, 2019

Incredible structure and the complexity to work with red meat

2015 Chardonnay

Smoky, graphite nose, pencil eraser and charcoal, clean and briary, ridden with beurre blanc and the sort of grassy sauciness typically reserved for Sancerre. An earthiness defying all imaginations of peat and volcano brings crystal-rockiness and diamond-cutting to mind.

So many people hear “Chardonnay” and instantly form a mental image. I’m here to tell you there are SOOOO many Chardonnays in the world–or even California alone–which lie so far out of the ENTIRE SUPERMARKET 5-SHELF AISLE OF YELLOW, if you’ve never happened upon one, I beg you PLEASE try and once you are hooked, the desire will be insatiable. The 80s are over, and people who still Chardonnay-shame get an asterisk. I’m not even saying you need to drink Chablis or Burg–there are PLENTY of ridiculous clean bright chards in California. Very few of them will be on a supermarket aisle though. Go to your wine shop and ask. It’s not difficult to find.

And this is one of them. One of the old-school ones. I’m actually serving this wine with rib-eye tonight. And not because it is a huge oaky buttery monster: THAT wouldn’t work at ALL. No, because it is serious heavy acidic stuff with crazy fruit, incredible structure, and the complexity to work with red meat.

In the mouth, a plasticine stay-krisp coating on rich fruit positively bursting at all of its acidic seams. All that funk and earth in the nose translates straight into a grimy dirty-baby-diaper of loveliness, compounding the nectarine and dried apricot, driving it hard against walnut shell and Oolong tea where chardonnay dreams really exist. Sweet and delicate in the finish, an almost Riesling-or-Gewurztraminer nectar situation closing things out–but with bitter grip.

If you can’t stop hating Chardonnay, you are NOT drinking the right ones.

JVB Uncorked, Jim Van Bergen, May 27, 2019

The wine is so well-made....

2015 Chardonnay

Color is pale straw. The nose offers pear, apple, lemon zest, and just a hint of oak. On the palate,  however, the fruit is beautifully pronounced: yellow peach, sweet apple, citrus crossing from the mid- to back palate, leaving a swath of mouth-watering heat from the alcohol. Secondary notes of baking spice, stone, vanilla, and vegetation with marzipan on the lingering finish. As a wine lover, my first thought on this wine is that it’s so tasty, you don’t want to think about it. You simply want to enjoy this delightful glass of wine that is so unlike what we’ve come to expect from Napa.Smith-Madrone’s winemakers (Stuart, Sam, and Charles Smith) actually dry-farm (no irrigation) and in doing so, they develop a grape and create a wine that is closer to a Beaune-style chardonnay than the common flavor profiles that are popular with New World grapes. What does this mean to you?  It means you’re going to enjoy this wine more than you expect, and you’re going to need to buy more of it than you’d expect because like me, you’ll drink it faster, even if you’re savoring the flavors. You’re going to wish you bought a bigger bottle…or several bottles, because your mouth is going to ask you for MORE. As a wine drinker who personally tries to shy away from the high alcohol content of some California wines, this is one where I take exception. The wine is so well-made, I’d easily buy a case of this to tuck into my cellar (if I only had the room!) it’s such a delicious wine that sings through warm weather and is incredibly agreeable with food. If this is a good price point for your chardonnay drinking, (or a good price point for a special bottle) I can not recommend highly enough that you give Smith-Madrone a taste. As passionate as I am about white Burgundy, this is a wine I will remember for shattering my conceptions of Napa Valley chardonnay.

Fermented Fruit, May 25, 2019, Ryan O'Donnell

Pure and beautiful

2015 Chardonnay

I can never get enough of Smith-Madrone's Spring Mountain District Chardonnay’s crisp, bright fruit and lemon curd nuances. It’s always so well-balanced and is the complete opposite of what many expect of NapaValley Chardonnay. It’s not buttery or oaky, just pure and beautiful. ?

Enofylz, Martin Redmond, May 24, 2019

Wonderful balance

2015 Chardonnay

The wine is pale gold color with pear, Granny Smith apple, citrus cream, and savory spices with a hint of butterscotch. On the palate it's medium-full bodied with a texture that manages to be both creamy and mouthwateringly fresh with citrusy acidity. Wonderful balance here. It shows apple, pear, lime zest, lemon cream and spice flavors with a long tangy finish. Fruit for this wine sourced from dry farmed 40+ y.o. vines from the Spring Mountain AVA in the Napa Valley. The wine is 100% barrel fermented. Raised in 80% new French oak for 10 months 14.4% abv. Bravo!

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