2017 Smith-Madrone Estate Chardonnay – Clean, Crisp and Understated
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, Charles Smith is the winemaker and Sam Smith is the assistant 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 Cooks Flat (blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc). A note on the September Napa Valley Glass Fire: No vineyards or buildings were damaged but communications, fences and gates were damaged on the property. They hope to be fully operational soon.
(Photo taken by Matthew Denny)
The Wine – 2017 Smith-Madrone 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 standalone sipping Chardonnay.
The Food Pairing
The food pairing was so appropriate with this clean wine. Paired with a straight forward charcuterie tray of Tillamook aged smoke 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.