Brothers Charles and Stu Smith started their 37 acre vineyard a top Spring Mountain in 1971. With vineyards planted to Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling and most recently Cabernet Franc and Merlot they produce about 4,000 cases combined. One would expect them to build their reputation on Napa Valley staples of Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay, but at Smith-Madrone their known for their Riesling. The Riesling is considered to be on par with celebrated Riesling producers from around the world and is often on wine writers “best of” list each year. With breath taking views of Napa Valley the dry farmed vineyards are anywhere from 1,300-2,000 ft. above the valley floor. Doing almost everything themselves around the vineyards and winery Charles and Stu deserve the accolades they receive.
With 13 acres planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2005 is a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot and 9% Cabernet Franc and saw 22 months in new American oak. It is neither fined or filtered. Soft and lush at the beginning, with good black cherry and currant fruit and medium tannins this wine has nice character and complexity. A long lingering finish on the back of the palate, “this is one of the best Cabs I’ve had all year” said my drinking companion. This is not a big Cab, with huge tannins but a Cab. with finesse and structure. With less than 1,500 cases of the 05 produced this bottle is a steal at approximately $45. If you can find it make sure you grab a bottle or 2 and while at it if you can find their Chardonnay or Riesling one should stock up on those too. www.smithmadrone.com
As the holiday season starts one of the hardest decisions people are going to make is “What wine should we drink with…..”. This post will give you a quick ides of what to look for at your favorite wine retailer.
Pinot Noirs is a versatile grape that will go well with turkey, ham and and all the fixings. Oregon, California or the Burgundy region of France are the ones to look for. You’ll want a well balanced Pinot that can stand up to all you will be enjoying them with. Expect to pay about $20 for a good, solid Pinot Noir.
Beaujolais is another red wine that works well with holiday meals. Made from the Gamay grape from the Burgundy region of France, Beaujolais is lighter and fruitier than Pinot Noir. Beaujolais Nouveau is released on the 3rd Thursday of November and is from the most recent harvest and is a celebration of the harvest. Beaujolais should run less than $20 and Nouveau should be less than $12.
For the white wine drinkers at the table a Riesling works well. A Riesling from Australia, California or Germany would drink well. The crisp acidity & the mild fruit offer a great combination and should compliment your meal. Again find one that is well balanced. You can find a good Riesling for less than $18
Does the change in color of the leaves and temperatures mean you should be changing your wine preferences? I’ve never entirely believed in that rule, as there really are no rules with wine drinking. “Drink what you like, when you like is” my motto and as the holidays approach & temps. take a dive is it time to start drinking big reds & put away the whites wine? No I say. I’ve always keep an open mind to wine drinking(and so should you!) but if I drink wine I usually will let the food dictate my wine selection, not the weather. People usually think of pinot noirs as a common pairing for holiday fixings, but a riesling from Australia or Alsace will compliment the meal also. Why wait for New Years Eve for the bubbles, the cool, crisp bubbles still taste really good watching the kids trick or treating on Halloween. What goes better with apple or pumpkin pie, than a late harvest riesling or dessert wine. So as we change seasons twice a year, don’t feel as if you have to change your drinking habits or play “by the rules”. Remember the motto “Drink what you like, when you like”