Riesling Reviews

PullThatCork, Nancy Brazil, March 13, 2021

Brilliant golden color with concentrated flavors of pineapple and more

2013 Riesling

Brilliant golden color in the glass with concentrated flavors of pineapple, apricot, ripe pear, petrol and crushed gravel. Notable acidity keeps me salivating. The color is darker and the flavors have become considerably more concentrated since we first tasted this wine in 2016. During that visit we tasted the Smith-Madrone 2013 and 2014 Rieslings together. This 2013 Riesling was lush compared to the more austere 2014. Charles told us, “At the 20-year mark the 2013 will be insanely delicious. The 2014 will have 10 years to go.” Clearly we didn’t make the 20-year mark, but we have no regrets because this Riesling is pretty darn delicious right now.

Not only is this Riesling delicious on its own, it makes a brilliant dinner partner. I put together a simple pasta dish that has me thinking of springtime - creamy pasta with peas and prosciutto. The acidity of the Riesling is even more notable when paired with creamy pasta.

We found this beauty we purchased several years ago when we visited Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery in Napa’s Spring Mountain District. Riesling might not be the first variety you think of in Napa, but it’s the first wine Stuart and Charles Smith made in the early ‘70s. The brothers have a serious appreciation and respect for Riesling and know how to craft bright, brilliant, flavorful Riesling.


PullThatCork, Nancy Brazil, April 16

Generous and juicy acidity

2017 Riesling

Light golden color in the glass with aromas of petrol and stone fruit. Flavors follow with white peach and pear, stony minerality with a bit of roundness in the mouth. The fruit flavors might lead you to think the wine is off-dry but the finish tastes dry with generous and juicy acidity. This Riesling has just been released. Obviously, the Smiths don’t rush their winemaking. The flavors are lively, with a bit of roundness in the mouth and notable acidity. It is a pleasure to sip on its own and it loves food. The first evening we enjoyed this wine with Thai Peanut Chicken Salad in Butter Lettuce. The richness of chicken from coconut milk and peanut butter was perfectly balanced by the acidity and flavors of the Riesling. On the second evening we sipped this charming Riesling with guacamole and chips. Should you have the restraint to make this Riesling last, it will be delicious for several days corked and stored in the refrigerator.


Kathleen Wilcox, April 22, 2021, Instagram

Steeeeeeeep slopes pay

2017 Riesling

Fantastically pure and crisp, grapefruit and stones, texture and spirit, zest. A precise white screamer in the best way. Steeeeeeeeep slopes pay.


Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Michelle Anna Jordan, April 20, 2021

Absolutely gorgeous

2016 Riesling

Absolutely gorgeous. Aromas are delicate and evocative of spring flowers, including rose and jasmine. On the palate, the wine is bright, refreshing, delicate and engaging, with flavors of honeysuckle, white grapefruit, Meyer lemon, lime, peach, cantaloupe, white pineapple, sweet orange zest and hints of minerality suggestive of celery. It is a beautiful expression of this varietal and how it blossoms into its full self in rocky mountain vineyards. This dry riesling has broad appeal at the table. 


Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Peg Melnik, April 20, 2021

Wine of the Week: Striking

2017 Riesling

4.5 stars. A gorgeous riesling with aromas and flavors of honeysuckle, mineral and grapefruit. It’s intense yet nimble and light on its feet. Finishes crisp. Striking.


Cameron Kossen, cmkwine Instagram, April 13, 2021

Perfectly balanced, with a silky texture, zesty minerality and long finish

2017 Riesling

With spring weather and everything in bloom, nothing pairs better than a fantastic Riesling and some afternoon sunshine. Opened a 2017 from Smith Madrone grown atop Spring Mountain in the northeastern corner of Napa. The cooler spot is just perfect to grow Riesling. The Smith brothers have been producing pure terroir driven wines for decades on their estate.This wine opened up beautifully with a whiff of petrol, jasmine and citrus blossoms. Crisp and clean wine. A great textured wine with flavors of honeysuckle, warm summer peach, apricot, orange zest, limestone, and jasmine. Perfectly balanced, with a silky texture, zesty minerality, and a long finish.
This wine is delicious out the gates but will evolve for a decade or more. 


EveWine101, Eve Bushman, April 16, 2021

Not your mother's Riesling...it's all grown up

2017 Riesling

This wine has the exact shaped bottle a Riesling from Germany has, long with a slender neck, meant to mimic a perfume bottle. Aromas of white flower, lemon-lime, white peach and cool, wet pebbles. The taste was not sweet, so if you are expecting an overly sweet Riesling, this isn’t it, or in other words, this is not your mother’s Riesling. It’s all grown up and it leaves the sugar behind. Bone dry, lemonade, limeade, and fresh fruit including pineapple and melon. We had this with a Caesar Salad topped with warm grilled chicken. Perfect.


BiggerThanYourHead, Frederic Koeppel, April 12, 2021

A masterpiece

2017 Riesling

Made from dry-farmed, mountain-side grapes, the Smith-Madrone Riesling 2017, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, reveals its typical purity and intensity of purpose and effect in every molecule. The color is a radiant medium golden hue with a tinge of pale green; aromas of jasmine and honeysuckle, peach and apricot, lime peel and flint are permeated by riesling’s classic note of petrol or rubber eraser, every element impeccably seamless and integrated; on the palate, the wine is rich with apple and grapefruit flavors that tend toward quince and ginger, all animated by riveting acidity and a burgeoning tide of limestone minerality; the texture is almost sumptuous yet deftly held in check by a sense of spare elegance, the whole point being perfect balance in all parts, top to bottom; a few minutes in the glass bring in hints of candied orange zest and a wild, earthy note that partakes equally of meadows and forests; the finish is bracingly dry and saline. 12.9 percent alcohol. Production was just under 1,500 cases. A masterpiece, not to be missed by lovers of the grape. Exceptional. 


OwenBargreen.com, April 2021

Seriously good

2017 Riesling

92 points: A whiff of petrol really entices, as orange blossom and cantaloupe tones all combine brilliantly on the nose. The palate has just a kiss of sweetness and comes off fat on the tongue, giving this an air of unctuousness. Ripe melon fruits mingle with starfruit, lemon rind, stony minerals and smoky undertones on the palate. Seriously good now, this has another decade of life ahead of it. Drink 2021-2028.


American Wine Society Journal, Spring 2021, Ellen Landis

Fine balancing acidity and a thread of minerality through the zesty finish

2016 Riesling

Opens with scents of citrus and a fragrant white floral bouquet. Peaches, savory apricot jam and nectarines marry nicely with underlying river rock elements on the palate, and the texture is silky. This wine is complex and lush, while maintaining fine balancing acidity and a thread of minerality through the extended zesty finish.


LM Archer Instagram, March 29, 2021

Delicate, discrete, nuanced

2016 Riesling

Brilliant golden robe. Dusky golden fruit, ginger, exotic white fruit notes. Delicate, discrete, nuanced.


CaliforniaWinesandWineries, Michael Kelly, January 28, 2021

2016 Riesling

The 2016 Riesling is extremely aromatic with floral notes and green apple on the nose. A light yellow straw color and medium viscosity. On the palate, strong lime, mixed with stone fruits (white peach and apricots) tame the lime citrus. On the finish, the minerality comes through strong and pure from either the volcanic soil, or sandstone, limestone or the general rocky soil found on the property. The minerality and acidity is jovial and enticing with a semi-sweet crescendo.


JebDunnuck.com, Jeb Dunnuck, January 27, 2021

Beautiful, outstanding

2016 Riesling

Lots of classic lychee, lime and white grapefruit emerge from this wine, which is medium-bodied and has a kiss of sweetness, balancing acidity and a great finish. This beautiful, outstanding Riesling is going to age nicely for at least a decade.

ConsiderableLibations, January 9, 2021

Bright, acidic notes of white peaches, lime zest, and green apples will coat your mouth like stardust

2016 Riesling

Pour a glass of this delightful Riesling in twilight hours while the hazy melodies of Lo-fi hip-hop drip like honey in the air. Sip it slowly and let the gaiety of this wine lift your spirits into the darkening sky. Bright, acidic notes of white peaches, lime zest, and green apples will coat your mouth like stardust. Cosmic stones will collide, and crack before your eyes. Their remnants streaking flame across the atmosphere - which has now become the floor beneath your feet - with a blinding yellow light. You’ll smell the industrial perfume of petroleum gas as the world seems to burn, but who cares? Not today. Not in this moment. Nothing is standing between you and your bliss, save for your own lips; already parting, opening, ready for another taste.


BiggerThanYourHead, Frederic Koeppel, December 15, 2020

Crisp, resonant and alluring

2016 Riesling

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

The color of the Riesling is a sheen of pale straw-gold; scents of lychee, spiced pear, petrol and ripe peaches gradually open to notes of gardenia, lemon oil and green tea; chiming acidity and vibrant limestone minerality keep this wine crisp, resonant and alluring, a lambent shimmer against a background of chalk and flint and a rich yet ethereal core. Now through 2024 to ’26. Excellent. 


Frank Morgan, DrinkWhatYouLike, December 14, 2020

Dry, bright and expressive

2016 Riesling

Napa may be best known as the home of iconic Cabs but Riesling is thriving in the Smith-Madrone estate vineyard on the steep slopes of Spring Mountain on the northern edge of the valley. Since planting their initial vines in 1972 (replanted in 2000), brothers Stu and Charlie Smith have helped set the standard for American Riesling. This 2016 is the current release. Dry, bright and expressive. It’s clean on the nose, stone fruit, lemon and petrichor. Loaded with flavor in the mouth. Stony. Vigorous citrus acidity. Lengthy lime zest finish.


Wine1percent, Stephen McConnell, September 30, 2020

Your Riesling fantasies are going to come true

2016 Riesling

One of those bottles which sit in the cellar SCREAMING at me to open them and I relish–and put off–and relish–and put off–trying the new vintage every time. One of the handful of California producers who GET IT RIGHT year-in and year-out; you just KNOW all your Riesling fantasies are going to come true. Pale canary, just a shimmer of straw in a crystalline body. Funky drrrty grassiness in the nose, a full breath of mineral tip-toeing around petrichor and petrol, never committing to either in an infinite balance of slight citrus, lemongrass, sagebrush, and peachy-hazelnut fruit. Everything chopped up into tiny parcels feeding the grand scape of things: nothing massively jumping or hedonistic, each slight nuance firmly in its place. Far more lavish on the tongue. Nectarine and apricot hit hard, full and round, smoky acidity coating all. Perhaps one of the more *flush* of vintages I have had: nothing meager here. Full rich decadent fruit edging on sweetness all over the mouth. The Dirty Denizens of Disaster combine again from the nose into the finish, chalky and brittle on one end but viscous and coating at the other. The infinite lack of finality is one of those things lovers of this variety cherish, and the brutality of it gives plenty of bitter woody fruit-gasm for ever and ever.


Oded Cohen, Odedi's Wine Reviews, September 23, 2020

Nicely balanced and rich.

2016 Riesling

92 points. Light golden in color and very pretty. Strong nose of citrus, lemons, yellow apples, diesel, spices, minerals, light tropical fruits, sea salt and pineapples. Medium plus in body with medium acidity, crisp and creamy. Dry on the palate with lemons, citrus, apples, pears, light diesel, pineapples, white pepper, light earth, herbs and spices. Long tangy finish with limes and black pepper. This is a very tasty Riesling from Napa Valley. Showing nice complexity with a nice mouthfeel. Nicely balanced and rich. Although easy to drink, it is more of a thinking wine. A good quality wine with lots to offer. The spicy finish makes it interesting. Very expressive right out of the bottle, and calmed down after 30 minutes of airtime. Better when not too cold. This 4 year old is drinking so fresh, and I love that. Would age nicely in the next 10 years. Good by itself or with food. I had it all by itself by the pool.


ShanksandChardonnay, September 8, 2020


2016 Riesling

For white wine Wednesday, I’ve selected a Napa Valley Riesling. This American version is notable for the fact that it is imported into the varietal’s ancestral home. It was an exceptional example. Intensely aromatic and flavorful with a crisp and refreshing character, I understand why even the Germans are willing to tip a glass. Our September snowman approved as well. ⛄️ Color was lemon with pale intensity. Nose was pronounced intensity with fresh green apple and citrus with apricot and mineral aromas. On the palate it was dry with mouth-watering high acidity, medium alcohol, medium body, and pronounced flavor intensity that confirmed the green apple, citrus, apricot, and mineral notes as well. It also had a medium finish. Balance+ Length - Identity/Intensity + Complexity + = Overall, very good quality.


Santa Rosa Press Democrat, August 25, 2020, Michele Anna Jordan

As suave and smooth as Fred and Ginger taking a twirl

2016 Riesling

Our Wine of the Week, Smith-Madrone 2016 Napa Valley Spring Mountain Estate Riesling, is as suave and smooth as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers taking a twirl across a dance floor. There is a bounty of forward fruit, suggesting primarily apricots and white peaches, followed by a mid-palate softness evocative of lemon curd. The finish is clean and crisp, with little bursts of minerality. There is the slightest impression of sweetness, too, not from residual sugar but from the fruit itself; the wine is dry. There is just the slightest hint of sweet spice. At the table, the wine can take a bit of heat, especially from Indian cuisines, as it merges beautifully with plain whole milk yogurt, a traditional condiment for countless Indian dishes. To enjoy this wine with grilled chicken or pork, add a simple raita — yogurt with diced cucumber or minced radishes — alongside and you’ll have a match that soars. When searching for delicious pairings, look to the wine’s roots, especially in Alsace, the eastern France region where the varietal thrives. The mountainous area is known for its charcuterie and its sauerkraut, both which pair with this wine. Fresh water fish is an Alsace specialty, and if you snag some wild trout, you’ll enjoy this wine alongside.


Santa Rosa Press Democrat, August 25, 2020, Peg Melnik

A gorgeous riesling buoyed by great minerality

2016 Riesling

Wine of the Week: A gorgeous riesling buoyed by great minerality. High-toned stone fruit is coupled with bright acid. It’s nimble — elegant as a ballet dancer — and finishes crisp. Impressive. Stu Smith said there are three reasons the winery’s riesling excels. “The first is that our grapes are mountain grown,” he said. “Two, we deeply care and love the varietal. Three, we have a responsibility to the varietal. By acknowledging riesling as one of the four most important varietals in the world, we accept the challenge, the responsibility, if you will, that we must make a great wine.” “At our core we believe wine should be refreshing, compelling and the utmost companion with food,” he said. “Why? I think wines that have great structure and taste good today will continue to taste great for years to come. Acid in whites is important like tannin is to reds.” Smith agreed whites can age as well as reds. “Riesling loses the fresh fruit flavors and aromas and starts to take on the stronger flavors of dried fruit (and) a honey-like aroma and flavor intertwined with hints of fusel aromas. This interplay creates a wine of sublime beauty that can rival the best that red wines can offer.”


HV Wine Goddess, Debbie Gioquindo, July 12, 2020

An elegant and sexy riesling

2016 Riesling

If you are looking for an elegant and sexy riesling, this one is for you. ⁠Delicate with silky petrol notes and hints of orange blossom, lime and white flowers. The palate has nice acidity, with green apple, stone fruit and a hint lemon on the finish.⁠ Chef's pairing suggestions: pan-seared white fish such as dorade, perch, rosefish and trout. Wienerschnitzel with German potato salad, Knockwurst with sauerkraut and collards. Looking for some cheese, Chef suggests a medium neutral cheese like Gouda or Edam.⁠


WineTravelEats, Amber Burke, July 17, 2020

Beautifully dry and perfectly crafted

2016 Riesling

It is a knock it out of the park wine, and what Smith-Madrone is truly known for. In our opinion, this Riesling is one of the best produced in the USA and could easily go toe to toe with what is produced in Germany. I never get tired of drinking this year after year as my go-to summer sip. This wine ages beautifully. I have tasted a 20-year-old bottle and it was exquisite. To me, this Riesling tastes of summer – on the nose, you will find petrol, white flowers, and lime. On the palate, you will find notes of white peaches and honeysuckle with a dollop of citrus. Beautiful acidity and a small amount of minerality bring this wine balance and complexity. It has a lovely pale straw color which deepens as it ages. I often serve this with Indian style curries. The freshness of the wine contrasts with the spices and helps to tame and enhance their flavors. I’d also suggest Thai dishes as another option. Do not be fooled by the name Riesling. This is no sweet wine. It is beautifully dry and perfectly crafted. If you try only one of their wines, this is the one I am going to suggest.


Tobin, Instagram, August 14, 2020

Heavenly pairing 

2016 Riesling

A lovely recommendation from the Napa General Store to go with their famous Chinese chicken salad. Smith-Madrone delivered a beautiful rendition of Napa style Riesling. That diesel smell meets a viscosity of melon and tropical fruit. Heavenly pairing.


ArmchairSommelier, Kirsten Georgi, July 22, 2020

The best Riesling California has to offer

2016 Riesling

My favorite California Riesling is from Smith-Madrone Winery. You can’t have a conversation about California Riesling without Smith-Madrone. Stu Smith planted Riesling at Smith-Madrone back in 1972, believing then (and now) that Riesling is not just one of the most important white grapes in the world, but one of the most important grapes in the world (along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay). Smith-Madrone is located in the Spring Mountain District of Napa Valley. Vineyards sit at elevations between 1,300 and 2,000 feet, on steep slopes which range up to 34%. Smith’s 6.25 acres of Riesling vines have east-facing exposures. To fit that acreage into the larger picture of Riesling in California, Napa Valley has a total of 79 acres planted to Riesling. Smith is a huge proponent of dry-farming and the idea that grapes that struggle produce better wines. The vines send their roots deep into the soil in their search for water and nutrients, producing smaller berries, with a larger skin-to-juice ratio. Smith-Madrone’s Riesling is a pure expression of the grape — fermented and aged in stainless steel. Smith says, “There’s no French or American oak, no lees, no batonnage, no malolactic, no micro-oxygenation or like type of manipulation. This is the purest expression and form that a grape can give.” Smith-Madrone Riesling is fantastic stuff. IMO, the best Riesling California has to offer. You’d have to go to Mosel to find a Riesling with this kind of purity, elegance, and precision. Waste all the time you want on Riesling, Smith-Madrone.


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