Riesling Reviews

Iwasreallyhere, Instagram, October 18, 2023

Both impressive and impeccable

2017 Riesling

Both impressive and impeccable, with a nervy undercurrent of rustic, mountain acidity.


Bin 412, Eric Hiltz, October 12, 2023

Remarkable balance, one for the ages

2018 Riesling

The 2018 Riesling, showed vibrant acidity and pronounced citrus notes, with just a touch of petrol that will undoubtedly develop more in this wine as it ages effortlessly.  On the palate, it showed remarkable balance with good texture from the .7% RS that was neatly wiped away by crisp acidity, leaving a lingering impression of citrus, orange, and jasmine.  This is one for the ages and will undoubtedly only get better for years to come.


BiggerThanYourHead, Frederick Koeppel, October 3, 2023

A masterpiece that should not be missed by lovers of the grape

2017 Riesling

I have tasted — consumed — the Smith-Madrone Riesling 2017, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, three times since its release, and it just gets better. More golden, more nuanced, deeper in its limestone and flint underpinnings, broader in its range of dried and candied citrus and stone fruit scents and flavors, more authoritative in its bright and surging acidity, more delicate in the elegance of its floral notes. A masterpiece that should not be missed by lovers of the grape. Drink through 2027 to ‘30. 


Peg Melnik, Press Democrat, September 20, 2023


2018 Riesling

A refreshing Riesling with bright acidity and notes of apple, peach and honeydew. Finishes crisp. Impressive.


Elizabeth Schneider, WineForNormalPeople, September 2023

A kick-a$$ job

2018 Riesling

As I said in my most recent newsletter, I've been drinking a ton of Riesling in this hot, hot weather. Napa Riesling is a bit of a relic from the old days when the grape selection was more diverse, so you only really see it from the old-school producers like Smith-Madrone. They do a kick-a$$ job with this wine -- maintaining acidity while coaxing out lime, jasmine, and lemon curd notes. It's softer than European versions but such a lovely, complete wine to have with cheese. I haven't found a ton of domestic Rieslings outside the Finger Lakes to be excited about, but this is an exception. 


Alder Yarrow, Vinography, August 13, 2023

Smith-Madrone never fails to deliver the kinds of flavors and stony qualities that make Riesling so beloved

2018 Riesling

The Smith-Madrone Riesling never fails to deliver the kinds of flavors and stony qualities that make Riesling so beloved by many wine geeks.
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet chalkboard and mandarin pith. In the mouth, flavors of white flowers and orange pith mix with wet pavement and a touch of winter melon. 


Food & Wine Magazine, Brian Freedman, July 12, 2023

Proves how successful the variety can be at higher altitudes in Napa Valley

2018 Riesling

This is a concentrated, estate-grown Riesling that proves how successful the variety can be at the higher altitudes of Napa Valley. It bursts from the glass in a blaze of fresh-squeezed lemon, and that acidity perks up more perfumed notes of orange blossoms. A subtle whiff of fennel fronds complicates it in a particularly lovely way.


Ellen Landis, EllenOnWine, July 8, 2023

Brisk acidity keeps it in fine balance

2018 Riesling

Scents of wet stone and citrus blossom rise from the glass at first swirl.  On the palate are layers of succulent peaches and nectarines, fresh squeezed lime, crisp apples, minerality, and faint lemon verbena exhilarating the palate.   Brisk acidity keeps it in fine balance, and a twist of lime lingers on the gratifying energetic finish. 


Modern Wine, Tim Teichgraeber, July 8, 2023

An intriguing, classy, special wine

2018 Riesling

Smith Madrone and Trefethen may be the only wineries in Napa Valley still producing an estate Riesling these days, but it sure is a beautiful thing when an institution sticks to its guns and continues to produce a wine because it is great, not because it is trendy or more profitable. To be perfectly honest, California Riesling seldom blows me away, but this older-vine example planted on the superb terrain of Spring Mountain is one-of-a-kind and worth seeking out. It has Riesling's classic oily 'petrol' aromas along with aromas of marzipan, lime leaf, lovely nectarine fruit and a racy, zesty, lemony finish with hints of saline minerality. An intriguing, classy, special wine. Already five years old, but built to last longer.


Steve McIntosh, Imbiber's Journal, July 4, 2023

Honesty to the varietal and Spring Mountain

2018 Riesling

Porch perfect: Here's an enjoyable wine for a number of reasons. First, it's the real deal, but it isn't out to prove anything. Second, it bridges the Alsatian and New World divide. There is honesty here to both the varietal and Spring Mountain. Ageworthy and very food friendly, this is a white wine you could comfortably stuff in the back of your cellar, and wait for the delicious surprise. It will likely improve further over the coming years and maybe even decades. Well done!

http://www.imbibersjournal.com/2023/07/porch-perfect-smith-madrone-riesling.html , Steve McIntosh

The Wine Curmudgeon, Jeff Siegel, November 29, 2021

A wine that reminds me just how amazing wine can be

2016 Riesling

This is a wine that reminds me just how amazing wine can be. For one thing, California doesn’t do much riesling, and it certainly doesn’t do much well. But this one is a revelation, combining California-style fruitiness with the varietal characteristics that make great riesling so much fun to drink. That means lime zest, a bit of tingliness in the back, a hint of petrol, some sweetness floating around to remind you it’s riesling, just enough acidity to greet the sweetness, and stoniness in the finish.

The Wine Curmudgeon, Jeff Siegel, July 12, 2021

Combines New World-style fruitiness with the varietal characteristics that make great riesling so much fun to drink

2017 Riesling

Smith-Madrone’s riesling is a top-notch New World take on a classic grape. Once more into the riesling breach, dear readers: And why not? I’ve probably tasted more rieslings over the past 18 months than I have in the blog’s entire 14 year history. And I’ve rarely been disappointed. The Smith-Madrone, despite California’s lackluster track record with the grape, is just one more reason to sip and smile. The Smith-Madrone riesling 2017 combines New World-style fruitiness with the varietal characteristics that make great riesling so much fun to drink. In other words, not sweet for the sake of sweetness, and not some kind of fruity confection because, you know, that’s what Americans drink. Look for lime zest, a bit of tingliness in the back, a hint of petrol, some sweetness floating around to remind you it’s riesling, just enough acidity to greet the sweetness, and stoniness in the finish. In fact, this is one of the few times where the wine geek descriptor “wet stone” almost makes sense. Highly recommended – the kind of wine that people who don’t think they like riesling should try. 

Jeff Kralik, The Drunken Cyclist, June 23, 2023

The palate is simply exquisite

2018 Riesling

There are few constants in life: death, taxes, and stellar Riesling from Smith-Madrone. This is a perfect example. While it is close to a full five years out, this is actually the current release from the venerable winery. Medium color in the glass with lemon predominate as well as some lemon rind, a bit of wet rock, and a hint of an herbal aspect (basil?). The palate is simply exquisite, with great fruit, good weight, and fantastic acidity. Whoa. Perhaps a bit rounder than previous vintages, but holy cow. Outstanding. 93 Points.


Catherine Fallis, Planet Grape, June 3, 2023

Creamy and sweet-tart

2018 Riesling

Creamy and sweet-tart with notes of baked apple and pear, banana bread, ginger wafer and mushroom.


StrongCoffeeToRedWine Facebook, Rick Dean, May 28, 2023

Juicy, mouthwatering acidity, yum!

2017 Riesling

It's chilly and wet today in Charleston so what was our selection for today? ... 2017 Smith-Madrone Riesling. The color was medium gold which signaled to me that it may be on the edge or gone. It was not done. If you like hard cider... It was incredible. Juicy. Mouthwatering acidity. Filled with red apple, yellow apple and classic apple cider. It was so so good. Yum!


James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com, May 23, 2023

Attractive minerality

2018 Riesling

This is bright and full of energy with notes of tangerines, sliced pears and spices. Attractive minerality to it with a medium body and round, creamy texture. Bright acidity and a flavorful finish. Drink now.

Dave Thompson, Napa Wine Project, May 2023

It's tangy, lively and mouth watering with a rich and long lasting finish.

2018 Riesling

Medium to deep gold in color; the initial aromatic we noted was saran wrap (showed this more than the previous vintage and it continues to express this for some time as the bouquet opens further) along with scents of apricot, dried straw, beeswax, papaya, Golden Delicious apple, light chamomile and dried walnut husk (we spent our fall every year in our youth helping our grandfather and uncles harvest walnuts at their orchard in Dairyville in Tehama County, CA). Minerally, bright, and intensely flavored this wine delivers plenty of pleasure on the palate. There is a tug here between the lightly rounded texture and the acidity, with the acidity clearly winning. This bottling sports notes of lemon juice, honeydew melon, green apple and a light note of mint towards the finish. It's tangy, lively and mouth watering with a rich and long lasting finish. This bottling is going to age beautifully.


David Gabine, Wineceptions, May 17, 2023

Riesling rocks

2018 Riesling

So yeah, ummm, Riesling rocks, and the 2019 Smith-Madrone Riesling from the Spring Mountain District in Napa Valley is a stellar example of California Riesling. Amazing acidity, with just the right amount of residual sugar to balance everything out. Some petrol on the nose, accompanied by aromatics of orange blossom, Meyer lemon, and some orange zest. Dry, crisp with some nice minerality yet lush on the palate with flavors of stone fruit, pear and hints of grapefruit.


Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Peg Melnik, May 8, 2023

An impressive riesling

2018 Riesling

An impressive riesling, nice and dry. It has stone fruit of nectarine coupled with great minerality. It’s extremely well-made.


FoodGal, Carolyn Jung, May 5, 2023

Juicy, crisp, lively with acidity

2018 Riesling

Does your TGIF call for binging on Chinese takeout and Netflix? Then, uncork a bottle of this 2018 Smith-Madrone Riesling, to make the evening perfect. Juicy, crisp, and lively with acidity, this wine is fragrant with citrus and blossoms, and tastes vividly of lemon and tangerines with a touch of minerality. It’s especially ideal with with any Chinese dish with some heat like kung pao chicken or ma po tofu. While Smith-Madrone grows several varietals, the winery was founded primarily on Riesling to take advantage of its steep hillsides on Spring Mountain in St. Helena. The Riesling vineyard is partially dry-farmed to concentrate the grape’s flavors. Cheers to Smith-Madrone, which was named “Winery of the Year” in 2014 by The Daily Meal, and was profiled in “Behind the Glass” on SommTV. View the fun teaser for it: https://vimeo.com/571946716/b6959dbd33 



AmateurSommelier, Alec Terman, May 2, 2023

Well balanced and truly unique

2018 Riesling

A little different than your typical Riesling, this sets itself apart with a crisp acidity, while still having a subtle light fruit sweetness. The aroma for this wine is cool and heavy with lime, stone, a little lemon grass, and pear. The taste expands from the aroma with pear, wet stone, key lime, tropical fruits, a bit of mandarin orange, and light floral notes. Instantly when you sip the wine, you have that nice refreshing acidity that coats your palate. The acidity isn't overwhelming, but is the dominant aspect for a moment before the sweetness starts to emerge. The sweetness is more of a "fruit sweet" to complement the flavors rather than a sugary sweet like a lot of more mainstream style Riesling... if that makes sense. The 2 qualities mingle together fairly well, giving a nice contrast, making this a well balanced wine. This is a truly unique California Riesling that sets itself apart from others, and really leaves an impression of individuality.


Rich Cook, WineReviewOnline, April 25, 2023

Just another 'wow' Riesling from Smith-Madrone

2018 Riesling

95 points: Just another “wow" Riesling from Smith-Madrone. This vintage is quite generous in its youth, though it’s certainly a late release for the type domestically. Apple, pear, stone fruit and just a hint of petrol define the aromatics and the flavor profile, and pulsing acidity goes right up to the line without becoming scouring, giving great push to the flavors. This is delicious right now, but with the track record this wine has for aging, you will want to buy in bulk.


Ellen Clifford, ScrumptiousGruel, April 25, 2023

The characteristic sword of Riesling acidity cutting through....

2018 Riesling

One whiff gave me all the omg this is RIESLING feels–golden delicious apple plus petrol and a bit of orange blossom. The palate is voluptuous as a dry (I think?) Riesling can go. It’s deep and rich in fruit yet not overly ripe or cloying. Still on the palate I got on the nose notes, plus an overdose of honeysuckle and ALMOST buttery notes? It is light to the touch yet creamy but zippy, omg it’s egg cream vibes without the chocolate flavor? And then the characteristic sword of Riesling acidity cutting through. Allspice and slightly bark earthy notes come through on the finish. Pair with the latest Mandalorian.


PullThatCork, Nancy Brazil, March 30, 2023

Pure expression of the Riesing varietal is delicious

2018 Riesling

When planning a meal do you start with the food or the wine? I may have just given away my approach by listing food before wine, but honestly sometimes we begin with the food and sometimes the wine. And, some food is more challenging to pair with wine, and some wine is more challenging to pair with food. But one thing is for sure: Riesling is easy to pair with most food. This Riesling, which we received as a tasting sample, proves the point.

Charles Smith, co-owner and winemaker with his brother Stuart of Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery, discussed Riesling’s food-friendly nature in a recent series of social media posts. He noted that Riesling goes with just about everything except a steak. He should know.

Stuart and Charles Smith have been growing grapes and making wine in Spring Mountain District above Napa Valley since the early 1970s. As you might expect they make Cabernet Sauvignon, but they also make Chardonnay and, unexpectedly, Riesling. They make Riesling because they appreciate and love Riesling, not because it is a big seller. 

Only 34 acres of their 200-acre mountain property are planted to vines. Vineyards are planted to a variety of elevations, slopes and exposures. 6.25 acres of Riesling is planted on the steepest part of their hillside vineyard (34% slope), at 1300 to 1900 feet above sea level, and is mostly planted on its own roots.

2018 Smith-Madrone Riesling, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley — pale yellow with generous aromas of petrol, white flowers and apricots. Complex flavors include stone fruit, pears, stony minerality and hints of pineapple with juicy acidity. The body is light but a bit round and the wine has a long, clean, dry finish. 13.3% abv. 1611 cases made.

In the afore mentioned social media post, Charles noted it is particularly true that Riesling is made in the vineyard because the winemaking is so straight forward. The grapes are pressed, go through a cold fermentation and are finished without malolactic fermentation, lees stirring or barrel aging. He noted, “It is almost a pure expression of the grape.”

That pure expression is delicious. The flavors are complex and balanced with great acidity and nice weight on the palate. Generous fruit flavors might have you wondering if it’s dry; it is. We found it paired perfectly with Italian Sausage with Farro and Kale Pilaf.

Over the years we have paired previous vintages of Smith-Madrone Riesling with Farfalle with Pistachio Cream Sauce, Thai Peanut Chicken Salad in Butter Lettuce and Guacamole and chips. It will be delicious with salads, roasted chicken and even pork. As Charles said, pretty much everything but a steak. Save the steak for Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon.


Michael Chelus, NittanyEpicurean, March 30, 2023

Lush palate, bright acidity, good balance

2018 Riesling

This wine is 100% riesling from the Spring Mountain District. It was both fermented and briefly aged in stainless steel. It comes in at 13.3% ABV. The wine showed a yellow color. Pear, lemon, apple, peach and petrol all arrived on the nose. Pear, lemon candy and Granny Smith apple told the tale of a lush palate followed by notes of peach, slate and hints of petrol. The wine exhibited bright acidity and good balance. It was light-bodied and demonstrated great length. This wine would pair very nicely with a rich seafood chowder.


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