The Honest Pour with John Lenart

Taking you beyond the bottle.


January 2019

Ep. 56 Stuart Smith, Founder, Smith-Madrone

Stuart Smith founded Smith-Madrone in 1971 on Spring Mountain. Since then  he and his brother have been making some fantastic wines from their self built winery.  If you want to see winemaking that isn’t veiled by the branded, retail friendly experience you get at many places along highway 29, head up Spring Mountain and pay a visit to Smith-Madrone. Stu may likely be your host in the barn-like winery/tasting room. You’ll find him a gigantic character never short on opinions. More importantly you’ll taste some spectacular and insightfully made wines.


Stuart Smith, Founder, Smith-Madrone

bottle-sm_16chard-hires2016 Smith-Madrone Estate Grown Chardonnay

Nose of Golden Delicious Apple, peaches and hazelnut, On the palate flavors of apple, lemon peel, and toasted marshmallow. Full yet lively. Superbly integrated long finish.

SRP: $40




sm-bottle-14cab-hirez2014 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon

Bright ruby color. (Tasted in colder conditions) Aromas of delicate raspberry, cranberry and earthy notes. As the wine warmed darker fruit flavors of plum and fresh blackberry predominated. Wonderful velvety texture and fine tannins combine with finessed notes of pencil lead and baking spices. Smith proudly calls this “The world’s greatest wine under $75.” I’d say it’s in the running for sure.

SRP:  $52



bottle-hires-cf20132013 Smith-Madrone Cook’s Flat Reserve

This Bordeaux-style blend is Smith’s self proclaimed attempt to make the greatest Bordeaux blend in the world. 46% Cabernet Franc, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon and 21% Merlot, aged for 19 months in 100% new
French oak. Opening with aromas of blackberry and currant lead to notes of graphite and earth. Complex flavors of dark berries are backed by notes of tobacco, dutch cocoa, and nutmeg. Texturally this is still a youthful wine, showing fresh acidity and elegant tanning all combining into a wonderfully balanced wine. Drink in 5 to 10 years or more.

SRP:  $225


bottle-sm-2015riesling-hires2015 Smith-Madrone Riesling

Wonderful aromas of petrol, apricot, lychee and white flowers. Mouth watering acidity plays perfectly with flavors of lemon/lime, apricot, peach and pear. Easy drinking now but has age-ability.

SRP: $32

Ep. 55 K.R. Rombauer III, Rombauer Vineyards

Big, round, rich chardonnay may not always be a critical favorite, but it is certainly loved by the mass market.  While the wines of Kistler, Sonoma-Cutrer and others popularized this style in California, it wasn’t until 1990 when Koerner Rombauer, working with fruit from Sangiacomo vineyard in Carneros, was able to produce this style of chardonnay at a price point friendly to the consumer. Today, K.R., Koerner’s  son runs the family winery and remains true to his father’s vision of making wine his customers want to drink. I sat down with K.R., to talk about the wines made at his family’s winery, his commitment to staying family owned, and of course, to taste some delicious wine.

people_koernerK.R. Rombauer III

nv-napa-valley-sauvignon-blanc-2016-onward-rotated2017 Rombauer, Napa Valley, Sauvignon Blanc

Aroma’s of nectarine, pineapple, and  passion fruit combine with pretty floral scents. On the palate flavors of grapefruit, lime zest, pineapple and other exotic fruits are balanced by floral notes and mouth watering acidity.

SRP:  $24





nv-carneros-chardonnay-2015-onward-rotated2017 Rombauer, Carneros, Chardonnay

A nose that leads with stone fruit and oak is backed by creamy, vanilla notes and hints of creme brulee. On the palate golden delicious apple flavors are given structure by notes of baking spice and buttery flavors. This may sound big, but it’s balanced by bright acidity and subtle minerality.

SRP:  $38





nv-diamond-selection-caberent-2014-rotated2014 Rombauer, Diamond Selection, Cabernet Sauvignon

Dark fruit aromas of blackberry, cassis and purple flowers. On the palate dark fruit flavors of black plum and blackberry are backed by notes of mocha, tobacco, and clove. ABV comes through a touch hot but should come into balance with a touch of age. Fine tannins give elegant structure.

SRP:  $100





2016 Rombauer Zinfandel

Dusty minerality, purple flowers and  blackberry on the nose. A finessed body. Full,, sweet, black fruit flavors, backed up with vanilla notes, black pepper and a hints of spices.

SRP:  $35

Ep. 54 Erica Crawford, Founder & CEO Loveblock Wines

Erica Crawford came to the wine business through marriage.  That’s not to say that nothing about her personal background influences the wines she and her husband Kim make today. In fact, her previous career in the medical and pharmaceutical industries  largely shaped Loveblock’s commitment to  organic and sustainable farming and winemaking. Her commitment to this is so strong that the farming practiced by Loveblock is entirely closed loop. Close loop farming recycles all nutrients and organic matter back into the soil from which it grew. Through these practices Loveblock produces wines of elegance with more restrained aromatics and more complex texture than is often associated with New Zealand wines.

ericaErica Crawford, Founder & CEO, Loveblock Wines

pinot gris2016 Loveblock Pinot Gris

Aromas of melon, peaches and integrated minerality. On the palate, crisp acidity elevates this wines structure and give balance to the integrated flavors of citrus, stone fruit and flowers.

SRP:  $23




lbk_sauvignonblanc btl_nv_rgb2017 Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc

Aromas of canned peaches, pineapple, yellow flower, lemon peel and cilantro. Elegant structure, lovely fruit and good acidity.

SRP: $22




lbk_pinotnoir btl_nv_rgb2016 Loveblock Pinot Noir

Nose of forest floor, and lilac. On the palate flavors of fresh cherry, plum, hints of cocoa. Mouth watering acidity and good fruit structure give this wine the flexibility to be served with a wide variety of food.

SRP:  $28

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