Once Again, Smith-Madrone...

2018 Smith-Madrone Chardonnay Spring Mountain District Napa Valley $45
Thanks to an aging palate (which can no longer tolerate full throttle, high-octane wines) and the stylistic stereotype of California Chardonnay (bombastic, overblown, and heavily manipulated,) I have all but written off this variety from the West Coast. Yet every year I make one exception: Smith Madrone's release. Why the exception? Not because it's a stylistic outlier (which it isn't.) But because, while remaining true to the style that has made California Chardonnay famous (or infamous,) it also honors a strong sense of place, extraordinary quality, and the  thoughtful winemaking that brought it to bottle. Yes, it is large and bodacious, rich and expansive, plump and profound - in these ways it is antithetical to what my taste has gravitated towards. But for all the reasons why we drink wine, most especially the transportation to a specific place in one's heart and mind through the mouth, this chard - and all of Stu and Charlie's wines - is a standout. 

Editors note: It was only after writing the above that I went back to find previous tasting notes on this wine. Not sure if I should be embarrassed by the almost-verbatim similarity or otherwise impressed, but the writer in me feels like an apology for self-plagiarism is in order.

Now for a bonus: here a short video of Charlie explaining how they make this wine differently than many others.