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1999 St. Supery Merlot, Napa

On occasion I come across a bottle in the cellar and I have no memory of where it came from. Such was the case with this lonely St. Supery, which was jammed into a case of wines I brought back from Italy. I definitely didn't get it there.

In any case, I was hunting for some merlots so I dragged it out and served it to some friends as we sat talking the other night.

St. Supery is hard to miss as you drive up Highway 29 through Rutherford in the Napa Valley. They're situated right off the road with large metal signs in their industrial Copperplate lettering. Named after a French Winemaker who lived in a house on what is now the winery's estate, St. Supery also grows grapes in Napa's Pope Valley, both presumably influence the winery's branding as purveyors of "divine wine."

In reality, the winery has evolved from a family affair into something a little more corporate, and like the Mondavis and other large wine factories, they suffer from their own success and from the 'mediocratizing' of winemaking at high volumes. I have not had the opportunity to try their estate reserve wines, which I'm sure are quite good, my recollection from past tastings and from this bottle is that while their wines are competent and reasonable values (prices have been raised in more recent years) they are nothing special.

Tasting Notes:
I'm betting the winemaker was not able to get as much color into this wine as he would have liked, as the wine has already mellowed to a carnelian red color, no signs of brick yet, but it's probably right around the corner. The nose is ripe with chocolate and rasberries with a touch of oak. On the tongue the wine expresses itself in a much more European style than many Napa Merlots, with notes of cherry, green wood, earth, and fairly strong tannins. The finish is moderate, with the woody flavors lingering.

Food Pairing:
Since this wine is not structured with the lush fruit that most California Merlots tend to exhibit these days, it will nicely complement meat dishes that have a slightly sweeter sauce or element, such as a maple glazed pork roast with sweet potatoes.

Overall Score: 7.5/8

How much?: $12

This wine is readily available in many places on the Internet. Try Wine Searcher or Froogle.

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