This crepuscular photo is actually of a bright, lightly oaked 2010 chardonnay from Smith-Madrone, the current release from a now old-line winery up on Spring Mountain in Napa Valley. The name’s charmingly half man, half tree, appropriate since Stu Smith, the founder, is a heavily-bearded, broad-shouldered hold-over from the Sixties, more Doug fir than madrone, though, and as outspoken and unpredictable as ever. I’ve known Stu for many of those years, and written about him, and although we rarely agree politically I respect his integrity and rare refusal to get caught up in the flashier aspects of the high-end wine business. His refusal to sell out – both to trendiness in wine-making, and to big money – redounds to the benefit of all who value self-reliant rural culture, continuity in landscape, and classic wine-making. Smith-Madrone just keeps on trucking: excellent, well-made, relatively inexpensive wines with commendably low alcohol by modern standards. This chardonnay, and the excellent, classically-made 2009 cabernet sauvignon, are both just over 14 percent, and relative bargains in the ever-active NV sweepstakes.