Thursday, March 10, 2011

Madonna Estate

Madonna Estate is owned by the famous Bartolucci family who have been making wines in Napa Valley since 1922 when Andrea "Andy" Bartolucci purchased a vineyard in Oakville making them the third oldest winemaking family in Napa Valley. This was during Prohibition and they made sacramental wines for churches.  Thus the name Madonna.  (They have also made wines under the St. Johns label.)  In 1970 they sold the Madonna winery in Oakville and moved to their current winery that is located on Highway 12 in the Carneros AVA.  Their primary vineyard of 160 acres is also in Carneros near Acacia winery, an area know especially for their Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.  All of their vineyards are organically grown (since 1990) and dry farmed. I first tasted at Madonna Estate around 1976. The wines at Madonna have always been very reasonably priced by Napa Valley standards.

During this visit we tasted the Madonna 2010 Estate Pinot Grigio, the Madonna 2009 Estate Chardonnay, the Madonna 2007 Estate Pinot Noir and the Madonna 2010 Estate Riesling.  The Pinot Grigio was $26.50 and was crisp and dry with mostly melon and pear.  I preferred both the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, however.  The Chard was $26.50 and was rather creamy with mostly apples and pears.  Even better was the Pinot Noir at $30 with strawberry, cherry and some oak in a well balanced presentation.  I did not care so much for the Riesling at $20 which I found too light and sweet, but others who like such a style might enjoy it.  Madonna Estate has some vineyards that are very well suited for Pinot Noir and I would like to have tried their Madonna 2008 Due Ragazze Pinot Noir Reserve at $60 but this was not offered.  But their regular release Pinot Noir is certainly worth trying if you are in the area and you will find their prices quite reasonable by Napa Valley standards. Five of the varietals offered are in the twenty dollar range and none are listed at over $60.

Other varietals produced are Merlot, Dolcetto, Barbera, Gewurztraminer and Muscat Canelli. I suspect that for many people visiting Napa Valley, Madonna is one of the first wineries they see as they drive into the Valley. I have driven by thousands of times and often see large tourist buses parked there so it is probably best to visit the winery on weekdays, in the mornings or during the off-season.  Our server was down to earth and friendly and had a good sense of humor. 

5400 Old Sonoma Rd
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 255-8864
Written: March 10, 2011

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