Riesling Reviews

Free Run Juice, Doug Wilder, September 7, 2022

This producer always excels with this variety

2017 Riesling

The nose is peach and mango with alluring perfume of orange pulp. The palate entry is focused apricot and sticky lemon with a core of spice and resinous herb. This producer always excels with this variety. Drink 2022-2033.

Founded in 1971, this dry-farmed estate on Napa Valley's Spring Mountain produces exceptionally well-made wines at value points commonly seen no later than a quarter-century ago.

Wine & Spirits Magazine, Josh Greene, Summer 2020

Balanced and lasting

2017 Riesling

92 points: A youthful five-year-old riesling, this wine feels weightless in its heady jasmine floral scents and pretty lemon-tart flavors. The mountain-grown minerality creates a tense frame around the fruit and flowers, setting this up as an age-worthy white. Balanced and lasting.

KQED Check Please, Leslie Sbrocco, June 2, 2022

Perfection (with sushi)

2017 Riesling

Riesling is one of the world’s greatest grape varieties. It’s farmed in Germany and France, but the globe is dotted with areas of Riesling production from Australia to Washington state to California. One of this country’s top producers of Riesling is Smith-Madrone. Located high atop Napa Valley’s Spring Mountain, the winery founded in 1971 by Stuart Smith, is a heralded Napa classic. Their Riesling is a small-production, unique white that captures the essence of the variety with floral aromas, elegant earthiness, and vibrant acidity. Treat yourself to a night of sushi and Smith-Madrone Riesling. Perfection.


The Wine Advocate, May 31, 2022

Cool, refreshing and stony

2017 Riesling

92 points: Opening with scents of petrol and cut grass, the 2017 Riesling is something of an oddity for Napa, where Riesling has largely been replaced by other varieties. Notes of paraffin, green apple and lime also appear on the nose, while the almost-dry, medium-bodied palate is cool, refreshing and stony, with a long, tangy finish and hints of beeswax and honey. It's already drinkable, but like many Rieslings, it should have a decently long drinking window.

Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Peg Melnik, May 3, 2022


2017 Riesling

A complex riesling that rides on crisp acid. Layered notes of grapefruit, mineral and honeysuckle. Nice length. Impressive.


Eric Hiltz, Bin 412, Instagram, April 7, 2022

Simply gorgeous

2017 Riesling

Consider me converted: 2017 Smith Madrone Riesling, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, California 12.9%

I’ve long been enamored with the Cabernets(Sauvignon and Franc alike) and Merlots of Spring Mountain where a thin topsoil layer and high elevation above the fog line produces smaller, thicker skinned berries yielding wines of marked intensity, varietal character, structure and age worthiness that in the hands of the right farming and winemaking can also possess freshness and elegance not often seen in this part of the world.

Who would have thought that world class Riesling could grow next to these monumental reds and achieve similar heights?

Enter brothers Stuart and Charles Smith. Stuart purchased the property in 1971 and Charles makes the wine, all from estate fruit on vineyards ranging between 1,300 - 2,000 feet asl on slops as steep as 34%

I’ve been drinking a lot of Riesling lately given my recent bi-annual trips to the Finger Lakes region. I haven’t had anything from the west coast that matches the verve, tension and energy of some of my favorites. Nor have I had any that match the texture and balance of my favorite German examples. This wine changed the game for me.

Substantial weight and density on the nose. Oily, waxy petrol already coming through overtop of soaring florals, crisp apple and some savory herbaceous notes. Medium weight with more stone fruit than citrus flavors on the palate. Amazing texture. The acidity comes in next, not offsetting but accentuating, the seriousness of this wine, pointing to a long life ahead. Simply gorgeous.

I challenge you to give me a $32 bottle of white wine that provides this much immediate enjoyment with the promise of being rewarded with 10-20+ years of patience.


Rupal Shankar, Syrah Queen, March 13, 2022

A delicious Riesling that will age incredibly well

2017 Riesling

Riesling is quite unusual in Napa Valley but it does well in the hillsides above the Napa Valley floor on Spring Mountain.  This is a delicious Riesling that will age incredibly well.  The wine has aromas of honeysuckle and apricot with a slight hint of petrol.  There is a silky texture on the palate with bright acidity and notes of citrus and stone fruit. This Riesling may possibly be my favorite wine from Smith-Madrone, a wine that is rare and very special from the mountains of Napa Valley.


Don Winkler, International Wine Review, January 20, 2022

Outstanding Riesling

2017 Riesling

92 points: An outstanding Riesling from the estate’s dry farmed, mountain vineyard. Intriguing tangy aromas of citrus and stone fruit with petrol and orange lozenge nuances. Clean and silky texture with mouthwatering acidity and nice minerality on a dry, beautifully balanced palate. This wine is still available on the winery’s web site, and we suggest snapping it up.   


Steve McConnell, Imbiber's Journal, July 20, 2021

92 points

2017 Riesling

92 points: Crisp, elegant, and refreshing - even at four years of age - this is straightforward and true to the variety while being both sophisticated and very approachable. What more could you want from a producer or wine? And then there's the quenching acidity and very subtle industrial funk - catnip for any wine nerd. Yum. I'm not sure there's another domestic riesling I enjoy vintage after vintage as much as this one. Pricey, but worth it.


Elin McCoy, Bloomberg, December 9, 2021

Balanced....Ages brilliantly

2017 Riesling

Please drink more riesling! For decades this Napa winery has been perfecting a balanced, wintergreen-scented style that ages brilliantly.


TheDrunkenCyclist, December 28, 2021, Geoff Kralik

Outstanding, White Wine of the Year

2017 Riesling

One of his White Wines of The Year

95 points, Outstanding. I try to avoid hyperbole. Nor do I ever (OK, rarely) suggest that one should buy a particular wine. But. What I have in my chubby, sausage-fingered hands (OK, I really have delicate, piano-player-like hands even though the only musical instrument I play is the car radio) is quite possibly the best American Riesling.... And it comes from, wait for it… Napa Valley. Yowza. All cards on the table? My Riesling chops were sown (grown?) in an odd combination of Alsace (where I studied), Germany (where I was a bicycle tour guide), and the Willamette Valley (where my spirit animal resides). And yes, this wine rates right up there with all of them. Crisp, “varietally correct” (which is a stupid notion, but nonetheless…), light straw in the glass, bright citrus, a healthy dose of minerality, and the omni-present(?) petrol component that defines Riesling (at least for me)–this wine has it all and then some. Simply put, if you don’t like, nay, love this wine? You will never enjoy Riesling. 


Piedmont Post, Pierre DuMont, November 3, 2021

Give this gem a try

2017 Riesling

The Smith brothers planted 20 acres of German clone Riesling in the early 70s. Back then there was quite a bit of it grown in Napa, but over the years it was pulled out and replanted with Cabernet. Now Smith-Madrone is one of the few producers left. The wine has about a half percent residual sugar and tastes basically dry. It boasts a lovely nose of jasmine and citrus with loads of apple and pear fruit on the palate. Round and clean in the mouth, it has a soft smooth finish. Even if in the past you have not liked Riesling, you should give this gem a try. Can’t think of a better wine to go with Thanksgiving turkey.

Pamela Riley, FoodandWineChronicles, August 2021

Exquisite, bright, crisp, almost creamy mouthfeel

2017 Riesling

The wine has charming legs that slowly drift smoothly down the glass like a pair of perfect silk stockings. It is pretty impressive to watch. Heavy aromas of petrol surge from the glass immediately upon swirling, nectarine and apple push through to reveal themselves afterward. The petroleum mixed with the fruit notes urges your nose to revisit before each sip. There is a barrage of lemon, lime, nectarines, and green apple on the palate, accompanied by Thai basil, wet stone, and unstated notes of beeswax. The wine finishes with white pepper, basil, pink grapefruit, and lively lime. This medium-dry, medium-body wine is bright and crisp with almost a creamy mouthfeel. Subtle flavors of mango appear on the finish as the wine warms....these wines were exquisite...perfect for summer sipping. However, I could see myself drinking them year-round. The empty bottle happened way too soon....lovely with or without food and a great value.


OwenBargreen.com, September 2021

Seriously good now, with another decade ahead

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.


Terroir Review, Meg Maker, July 28, 2021

A lovely wine, beautifully balanced

2017 Riesling

This is an estate Riesling, dry-farmed. The wine has firm acidity and is the color of a lemon drop with greenish glints. The fragrance is on-point for warm-climate Riesling, with that oily mineral note wafting atop yellow citrus in all its forms: Meyer lemon, lemongrass, lemon thyme. The flavors continue the theme, and the texture is ample, substantial, but with direct acidity. The finish has a flinty, mineral edge. It’s a lovely wine, beautifully balanced and great for seafood, salads, asparagus, young and milky cheeses, and coconut milk curries.


KB7497 on Instagram, September 24, 2021

Best dry American Riesling...can't recommend enough

2017 Riesling

The 2017 Smith-Madrone Riesling is by far the best dry American Riesling I have tried. The aroma is full of citrus notes, a vibrant mix of lime, lemon and orange with a hint of minerality. The palate is soft yet bright with these same notes but an added touch of an almost a white pepper. This has a delightful finish and a white CA wine I can not recommend enough. Find this wine and by some!!


Planet Grape Wine Review, Catherine Fallis, September 15, 2021

Notes of lemon curd, green apple, dried pineapple, candle wax and custard.

2017 Riesling

91 points: Creamy and mellow with a sweet-tart aftertaste and notes of lemon curd, green apple, dried pineapple, candle wax and custard.


Carolyn Jung, FoodGal, September 10, 2021

Lovely, aromatic

2017 Riesling

Warm weather was made for the 2017 Smith-Madrone Riesling with its sunny yellow peach, candied apricot, and honeysuckle notes, and wet slate minerality. Smith-Madrone specializes in dry farming techniques. This medium-weight wine that boasts a hint of petrol on the nose, a hallmark of Rieslings, was produced by Smith-Madrone Vineyards in St. Helena. Operated by brothers Stuart and Charles Smith, it’s a winery that specialize in dry farming that not only conserves water, but concentrates the flavor of the grapes. This lovely aromatic wine, of which I received a sample, is ideal with any Asian dishes that have a touch of sweetness or spiciness, from green papaya salad and sweet & sour pork to fish tikka and fresh rice paper spring rolls.

Cheers: The hyphenated name of the winery is first and foremost based on the brothers’ surname. But the second part comes from the variety of evergreen tree that grows predominantly on the ranch. How fun is that?


CaliforniaWinesandWineries, Michael Kelly, September 4, 2021

Extremely aromatic

2016 Riesling

The 2016 Riesling is extremely aromatic with floral notes and green apple on the nose. A light golden 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. This wine was pulled from the cellar for last night’s meal due to the spiciness of the dish called Pad Thai Shrimp. The ingredients were flat rice noodles, virgin oil, minced garlic, uncooked shrimp, eggs, bean sprouts, red bell pepper, green onions, peanuts, chopped cilantro and lime juice. The Pad Thai sauce included fish sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, Sriracha and creamy peanut butter!  Limes were plated to squeeze the juice over the top of the dish. Accompanied the meal was a fresh garden salad with an Asian dressing. The meal packed a punch of flavor and warmth! The 2016 Smith-Madrone Riesling was a godsend. The wine was refreshing and quenched the palate. The semi-sweet finish was spot on for this meal!

Smith-Madrone Vineyards is located on 200 acres on top of Spring Mountain west of St. Helena with 38 acres planted in vineyards. The vineyard elevation ranges from 1,300 to 2,000 feet. The founder, managing partner and enologist is Stuart Smith and Charles Smith is the winemaker. Truly a family affair! All the wines are estate and dry-farmed on top of the mountain. Annual production is between 3,000 to 4,000 cases a year. Currently they are producing Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and their iconic Cook’s Flat (blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc).


Dan Dawson, Napa Valley Register, September 3, 2021

Wonderful wine with mountain flavors

2017 Riesling

Smith Madrone’s 9 acres of dry-farmed Riesling vines on Spring Mountain make wonderful wine. First impressions include yellow grapefruit and honeysuckle, then with time comes citrus zest, bay leaves, orchard fruits and “mountain flavors” for lack of a better descriptor. Riesling is a natural with Thai dishes, especially where coconut milk is involved. Add on the kale sweet potato, lime, mushrooms and aromatic herbs for a great Riesling match. 


WineReviewOnline, Rich Cook, August 24, 2021

Impeccable balance

2017 Riesling

96 points: I generally reserve scores above 94 points for wines that have the capacity to not only be delightful at present but also have the structure to age gracefully over several years.  To see this number on a white wine is fairly rare in my backlog, but it’s there when it fits, as it certainly does here.  The numbers help tell the story of this beautiful Riesling -- 3.05 pH, .898 TA (!) -- numbers typically seen only in sparkling wines due to early harvesting for high acidity.  The 2017 is barely perceptibly sweeter than many of the previous vintages that I’ve had the opportunity to taste, but the impeccable balance will have you at the bottom of the bottle in no time.  Tart apple, bright citrus, stony minerality and incredible finish push are the hallmarks here, and they promise to reward well into the future, which of course means that a case or two are in order.   


Wine Enthusiast, Virginie Boone, September 2021

94 points: light, complex and silky

2017 Riesling

94 points: This atypical variety for the area shines from the producer's steep, dry-farmed estate vineyard. Light, complex and silky on the waxy palate, it offers flavors of green apple, apricot and grapefruit alongside touches of honey and wet stone. 


Talk-A-Vino, Anatoli Levine, May 17, 2021

One of the best Rieslings in the world

2017 Riesling

One of the best Rieslings in the world. Can an amazing Riesling be made outside of Germany? Taste this 2017 Smith-Madrone Riesling from Napa Valley and decide for yourself. In my book, this is one of the few Rieslings which I would be delighted to drink any day and every day.
A touch of honey and petrol on the nose make me not want to put down the glass ever. A distant honey note and clean acidity on the palate together with impeccable balance make this a “dangerous wine” - the wine which is gone before you notice that it is gone.


Imbiber's Journal, Steve McIntosh, July 14, 2021

What more could you want from a Riesling?

2017 Riesling

92 points: Crisp, elegant, and refreshing - even at four years of age - this is straightforward and true to the variety while being both sophisticated and very approachable. What more could you want from a producer or wine? And then there's the quenching acidity and very subtle industrial funk - catnip for any wine nerd. Yum. I'm not sure there's another domestic riesling I enjoy vintage after vintage as much as this one. Pricey, but worth it.


James Melendez, July 16, 2021

Compelling, beautiful, elegant, crisp

2017 Riesling

Video review

Our thanks to James Melendez for his review of the 2017 Riesling: “…compelling, beautiful, elegant, crisp…” and more:

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