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St. Supery Merlot 1999
St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery is a 100% Estate Grown, sustainably farmed winery located in the renowned Rutherford growing region in the heart of Napa Valley. The winery combines French château estate tradition with Napa Valley terroir and a focus on Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and other red Bordeaux varieties.
Committed to producing the highest quality estate wines without compromise, St. Supéry Estate Winery and Vineyards is proud to be certified Napa Green Land and Napa Green Winery. With St. Supéry’s reputation based on its valuable Napa Valley properties, a primary goal is to support biodiversity and sustainability while continuing the founding vision of a Napa Valley château for generations to come. St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery was founded in 1982. After a decade of researching properties with the advice from Napa Valley’s most respected vintners, the founding family purchased Dollarhide Ranch, over 1,530 acres of unplanted land high in the northeastern mountains which today is the source of St. Supéry’s distinctive estate Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. The diversity of Dollarhide’s terroir contributes to the successful farming of red and white Bordeaux varieties.
The winery in Rutherford is home to winemaking, visitor facilities, and 35 acres planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. All the estate acreage owned by St. Supéry is farmed sustainably using minimal intervention and cultivation. In addition to being recognized for award winning wines, St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery champions wine education and exploration, offering a series of interactive wine experiences designed for all levels of wine enthusiasts.
One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production as well as tourism, the Napa Valley was responsible for bringing worldwide recognition to California winemaking. In the 1960s, a few key wine families settled the area and hedged their bets on the valley's world-class winemaking potential—and they were right.
The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980s, when producers scooped up vineyard lands and planted vines throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, and today Napa is home to hundreds of producers ranging from boutique to corporate. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Napa whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that claim specific characteristics based on situation, slope and soil. Farthest south and coolest from the influence of the San Pablo Bay is Carneros, followed by Coombsville to its northeast and then Yountville, Oakville and Rutherford. Above those are the warm St. Helena and the valley's newest and hottest AVA, Calistoga. These areas follow the valley floor and are known generally for creating rich, dense, complex and smooth reds with good aging potential. The mountain sub appellations, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs, include Stags Leap District, Atlas Peak, Chiles Valley (farther east), Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, Spring Mountain District and Diamond Mountain District. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from a lot of time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. But the grape also has enough stuffing to make serious, world-renowned wines. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, in St. Emilion and Pomerol, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc. On the Left Bank in the Medoc, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.
In the Glass
Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.
Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.
Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot with Cabernet Franc.