Spring Forward

Always excited to try the new releases from this producer, and while the cab and chard are direct-hits, it’s the Riesling that really gets me slobbering in anticipation. No longer an un-sung hero of dry California versions of the variety, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a true wine-dork who isn’t familiar. It’s a pretty small group: with Navarro, Husch, Tatomer and Maidenstoen representing far-north and south examples, with Smith-Madrone and Montelena representing the rarer Napa Valley exhibits. Smith-Madrone has plugged this wine into their–classically–THREE-WINE roster for decades, staying true to style and never faltering from quality, and it rarely shows the kind of vintage fluctuations cab and chard will do in the valley. Sometimes it’s firmer and tighter–sometimes the buried fruit is punctuated, but Riesling is one of those *long-runners*, and even opening an ’18 seems criminal. But “research” must be performed. And research I will!

At this age, the glass shows a barely-yellow glow on a nearly-clear liquid. I got more petrol on this one on first pour, but it blows off into more of an exhaust-fume version with time. Still: it’s there, coupling fresh asphalt with broken-stem weediness and glimpses of green pear and chalky berry lurking shyly.

In the mouth, it explodes in raspy wonder: the fruit sweet and fulfilling kiwi and apricot dreams. But alongside is a harsh wonder of acid and dissolved mineral, the bitterness fighting hard against delicate syrup and ultimately forming a tactile union difficult to argue with. This is a powerful Riesling–not for the faint, the fruity-obsessed, or the sweet-addicted. The finish allows more perfect polish to be absorbed, and besides the rashly dry tannin, copious pear aligns citrus cravings for your final memory. Possibly the longest-aging potential I’ve had from them recently. Stash some away for enjoyment over 20 years.

2018 SMITH-MADRONE Riesling Spring Mt. Napa Valley 13.3


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