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St. Supéry
California Lushness with French-Style Subtlety

Rich, complex, and approachable Napa Valley wines are more in tune with Bordeaux wines than with their California counterparts

By Simone Zarmati Diament

A mong the dozens of boutique wineries that have emerged in Napa Valley in the past two decades, offering interesting alternatives to a region characterized by rich, bold wines with alcohol levels in the 14 percent range, St. Supéry has gained steam in the past few years with subtle, yet rich, complex, and approachable Napa Valley wines more in tune with France's Bordeaux wines.

And while St Supéry's CEO Michaela Rodeno assured that the winery is not trying to emulate the French, the French connection is nonetheless there.

In 1982, Robert Skalli, owner and president of St. Supéry and a third generation French winemaker, purchased the 1500-acre Dollarhide Ranch, on Pope Valley North of Silverdado Trail in Napa Valley. It was the same year he pioneered the growing and bottling of traditional varietals in France's Languedoc region, where the Skalli Family Wines were instrumental in the wine quality revolution in the south of France.

He planted the lush meadows and hillsides with full-bodies, robust Cabernets and Sauvignon Blancs, now more than twenty years old, and in 1986, the Skallis purchased a 56-acre vineyard in Rutherford, one of the best lands in Napa Valley with; and named it St. Supéry Vineyards and Winery.

There, the broad range of sunlight exposure and the alluvial land with sandy, loamy and gravelly soils were propitious to great vine growing. "We are fortunate to have diversity of topography, soil and climate in our estate vineyards, which provides me a wide palette of flavors, body, and ageworthiness at blending time, " explains winemaker Michel Beaulac about the fine crops of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Chardonnay and a small production of Moscato.

Today, with CEO Michaela Modeno, Michael Beaulac, and with the advice of the famed consultant Michel Rolland, St. Supéry's makes distinctive wines to accompany a wide variety of foods, that can be consumed as soon as they are bought.

All wines can be purchased directly from St Supéry's website (a member of the World Shipping Network):

Meritage: Blending for better results.
According to the regulations of the Meritage Association, no single grape variety may constitute more than 90% of a Meritage wine.

St. Supéry top two wines Élu Red Meritage Napa Valley and Virtú White Meritage Napa Valley (one of the few white Meritage available) are blended in classic Bordeaux style: complex, elegant and silky, well-balanced yet with soft tannins and rich mouthfeel.


St. Supéry Virtú White Meritage Napa Valley 2003 ( $25) is a genial blend of 62% Sauvignon Blanc, and 38% Semillion giving it the Semillon's rich aging potential and toasty oak complexity and the Sauvignon's citrusy characteristics. Wonderful aromas of passionfruit and citrus show up quickly. The palate is crisp, vibrant with lime and grapefruit rounded up by a hint of toasty oak. With the blend of these two classic varietals this wine is full-bodied, silky and has a lingering finish.

St. Supéry Dollarhide Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2004 Only 440 cases of this single varietal,100% Sauvignon Blanc, were bottled in January 2005. The 2004 vintage was exceptional but with a small crop. This is a vin de terroir with fruit flavors and structure pertaining to the three favorite Dollarhide Ranch blocks. No oak needed here, just stainless steel. The aroma is powerful, the flavors clear anc complex with grapefruit, cantaloupe, lime, grass, white nectarine… an ineffable mineral tang and a long-lasting citrussy tingle.

St. Supéry Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley 2004 ($18). This 100% Sauvignon comes from grapes harvested in August and September and fermented in temperature controlled vats. This is a crisp and fragrant wine with tangy ruby grapefruit, sweet lime, gooseberry and a hint of orange blossom in the nose, that develops tremendously in the palate with loads of citrus and tropical fruit, and finishes long and clean.

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