So now onto the wines, essentially three wines since the $200 Cooks Flat Meritage is way out of my price range, as good as it may be. They each represent exceptional value in an classic, age-worthy style. The Riesling is among the nation’s best, clean, precise with just a whisper of sweetness adding a deft touch of roundness to the palate, and value priced at $27. The Chardonnay, $30 a bottle, is barrel fermented and goes through malo, yet that mountain fruit can't be tamed so be prepared for a fine blend of richness and sinewy power with transparent citrus flavors. And then there is the Cabernet Sauvignon. As much as has changed around here—and let’s not kid ourselves, the Cabernet has changed as well—this is as close to a wine of the 1970s as you’re likely to get. For $45 a bottle there simply aren’t many California Cabernets that can compete with the purity, elegance and detail of a Smith-Madrone Cabernet. These are wines that every wine lover should try. They are as distinctive as Stu and Charlie, reflecting the kind of freedom of thought that heralded the golden age of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, showing us that it’s not over yet!
Lots of apple fruit here. This smells like  an apple barn laced with fine mineral and herbal suggestions. In the mouth there is an early dried apple note followed by lime fruit across a mid palate that is dry, firm, crisp and mineral-laced with plenty of steely acid driving the almost green plum fruit through the finish. Nicely perfumed in the mouth with a lingering note of green apple on the long finish. Youthful, snappy and focused with just enough sugar to add a soft buffering veneer to the acids. 92pts
This has just a beautiful nose, with green tea layered over dried lime zest topped with an emerging hint of petrol. Air brings out suggestions of some treacle and honey sweetness as well. On the palate, the bright acids support a broad and supple mouthful of apricot and lime fruit that shows the slightest honeyed edge. This is long and super-bright on the finish, with superb integration and a lovely fan of honeycomb and spiced apples. Exceptionally easy to drink, I wish I could have spent the afternoon with this bottle. 93pts
Cool on the nose with a very fine, crisp orchard fruit aroma that is supported by almond butter notes. With good acidity offering a nice mineral wash on entry, this builds to exhibit lovey fruit that once again shows a bit of nutty but not terribly oaky character on the palate.  The finish is clean, focused and mineral-rich with some aromatic, lightly bacon-toned oak notes. The texture is really lovely here, pretty tense with lovely clear apple and lemon fruit that is long, elegant and really quite nuanced. 92pts
Tight, lean and somewhat reticent on the nose with a nice butchers wax top note over ripe, soft peach, orange and apple fruits. On the palate there's some nutty oak here and a touch of wood tannin under the core of fairly ripe fruit that shows hints of apple butter and rich, sweet almond-tinged apple fruit. The texture is a touch softer than the 2010, showing  a little slippery edge on the long finish along with the lush fruit. 91pts
A little earthy on the nose, with nuanced green herb and mineral notes framing gorgeous blackcurrant fruit that’s laid over mocha and lightly roasted coffee. On the palate this remains tight and lean, if focused, with excellent purity to the blackberry fruit. This is fruity and ripe, true to the vintage, but remains totally transparent.There are fine ripe tannins supporting the fruit on the palate and peaking out on the finish; just a little youthfully stern and dry, but this does finishes just beautifully with fresh cut plums and red berry fruits over gentle soil tones. Young, with an easy decade of positive improvement ahead of it. 91pts
Very fresh on the nose, with a little mocha cream, some smoke and fines herbs with a nice minty top note layered over decisive blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. This has really lovely bright acids in the mouth with transparent fruit that bathes the tongue with bright, tart, blackberry flavors that have just a little medicinal edge to them, adding complexity. There are nice, rich, soft tannins on the long finish which leaves a persistent echo of  black cherry fruit. This is young and tight, but wonderfully energetic in the mouth, with nary a speck of fat. Will love to watch where this one goes with age. 92pts
Very true to type, this shows modest evolution when compared with the later releases offering up wonderful plum, black cherry and blackberry fruit framed with integrating mocha oak notes and topped with nice green herbal elements. In the mouth, it shows incipient softening from age, though the tannins remains a touch obvious. There is a broadening on the palate with fine richness and nuance. Herb, anise and mineral notes pop on the back end along with some nutty oak elements on the long, rich, smooth finish. This could use another 2-5 years in the cellar to really hit its stride, but even today it’s just classic Cabernet Sauvignon that blends purity, detail and power like few other Cabs from Napa. This will seem a touch rustic to some, but for my palate it’s spot-on. 93pts
Fruity and quite intense on the nose, with big black fruit that is deep and ripe topped with herb and carob aromas. This  feels a bit like Bordeaux in the mouth, ripe yet perfectly clear, with great cut and layers of wild cherry, plum, and blackberry fruits. There are firm tannins, but this is so well balanced they are certainly unobtrusive. There’s a lovely lifted hint of mint on the back end that contrasts with the very fine edge of dry extract ,adding richness to the vibrant finish. A pretty powerful wine that has great energy in the mouth. 93pts
Lots of toasty mocha oak greets the nose along with ginger, cinnamon and floral aromas. This is very pretty, with a little coffee cream on the super supple entry. The acids are very well integrated here, showing off lovely cut plum and sapid red fruit flavors, all topped with a hint of mintiness on the back end.  Super fine tannins on the finish add smooth textural support to the rich black currant and black raspberry fruit. Although this is tight, it shows superb balance, and while the oak is dominant at this early stage, everything is in place to evolve beautifully. 92pts