Please The Palate Wine of the Week: Smith-Madrone 2016 Chardonnay, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley

I recently wrote a story entitled “Have you found your way to Chardonnay? We Have!” I wrote that while Chardonnay is still one of the most widely planted grapes, as well as one of the world’s most popular grapes, as well as the queen of the white wines, it is still one of the most maligned grapes. But many of us know the beauty of the Chardonnay grape. If you are still in doubt, then try the Smith-Madrone 2016 Chardonnay from the Spring Mountain District in Napa Valley and you will fall in love with Chardonnay and understand why it is the Please The Palate wine of the week.

Located on Spring Mountain in Napa Valley, Smith-Madrone was established in 1971 by Stuart Smith and his brother Charles Smith. The densely forested property that they purchased was an abandoned vineyard. They logged the land and planted five acres each of Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. By 1989, the Pinot Noir was grafted to Chardonnay. Today Smith-Madrone has thirty-four acres planted with 10.25 acres of Chardonnay.

A mountain vineyard, all of the grapes are planted on slopes and benefit from the cooler mountain climate. The Chardonnay is planted on the coolest north-facing slopes. The vines are planted in mostly deep-red Aiken Stoney Clay loam soils which are volcanic-based and well-drained. The vineyard is dry-farmed. The Chardonnay is barrel fermented and spends nine months in French oak, of which 80 percent is new. Each year the wine is made from the same vineyards, pruned by the same people in the same way, cultivated in exactly the same manner and harvested at similar levels of maturity. The resulting wine is a reflection of the vintage.

The 2016 growing season was described as “near perfect” with ideal weather conditions. The Smith-Madrone 2016 Estate Grown Chardonnay is a bright straw gold color. It has an intense nose with beautiful aromatics of peaches, apricot, pears, apple, lemon and toasted hazelnut. Even after nine months in 80 percent new oak, the oak is retrained and in balance. It does not dominate on the nose or the palate. The wine is creamy and rich on the mid-palate but the acidity of the wine is exceptional. The wine has a chalky finish and the bright fruit notes carry through to the end. The Smith-Madrone 2016 Estate Grown Chardonnay is structured, balanced, intense, refreshing and just plain delicious!

There are only 831 cases produced of the Smith-Madrone 2016 Estate Grown Chardonnay which retails for $40.