Savoring #MerlotMe Month with St. Supéry Rutherford Estate Merlot

It’s the last week of October – and the final few days of the annual #MerlotMe event. Each year the Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers join forces with participating wineries to celebrate one of the world’s most popular grapes. As you might imagine, it leads to some tasty food and wine duos perfect for the fall season.

I’ve shared my thoughts on a few Merlot pairings here, here, and here. If you’re looking for more inspiration, here are links to articles written by my pals in the #WinePW group:

Note: I received this wine as a complimentary media sample; opinions expressed here are my own.

About St. Supéry Rutherford Estate Vineyard

The wine I sampled was the 2016 Napa Valley Merlot, with all fruit coming from the Rutherford Estate Vineyard. If you’re familiar with Napa Valley, then you know that the Rutherford Bench is a special place: a stretch of mineral-rich alluvial soils, mostly sandy clay, originating in the Mayacamas Mountains.

The vineyard comprises 35 acres of traditional Bordeaux varieties planted at an elevation of 150 feet. A Mediterranean climate, with warm days and cooler nights, allows for a long, dry growing season; grapes are able to ripen fully and retain enough acidity to keep the wines fresh.

Good Stewards of the Land

St. Supéry earned the Napa Green Land certification in 2008, followed by Napa Green Winery approval in 2012. Together these guidelines represent a “soil-to-bottle” approach to winemaking, one that considers viticulture and viniculture two halves of a whole. As the health and productivity of the land are interrelated, decisions in the fields and in the cellar are taken with the entirety of the estate in mind.

Sheep at St. Supéry – keeping the vineyards clean! (winery photo)
Busy bees foster a thriving, diverse bioculture (winery photo)

2016 St. Supéry Napa Valley Rutherford Estate Vineyard Merlot (14.5% abv; $50 SRP)

This wine is a blend of Merlot (88%), Cabernet Sauvignon (6%), Cabernet Franc (4%), and Petit Verdot (2%). Side note: St. Supéry also makes varietal wines from each of the aforementioned grapes.

2016 was a great growing season, starting off warm and ending on a cooler note which allowed the grapes to ripen slowly. Harvest was done by hand, after which the fruit was double-sorted: first by cluster, then by individual berry, to ensure only perfectly healthy grapes were selected. Fermentation took place at warm temperatures followed by extended maceration on the skins to extract color and structural elements. The wine was then pressed and transferred to barrels for 19 months.

The oak regimen consists of 100% French oak (43% first use); 29% of the berries were fermented in barrel as well.

Classic pairing that didn’t disappoint: mid-rare steak and a top-notch Napa Merlot from St. Supéry.

Tasting Notes

Color: Is it deep ruby or purple? I’m torn. Beautiful either way . . .

Nose: Ripe red, black, and blue fruit (berries, plums, a little cherry); a mix of vanilla, cocoa powder, and cinnamon wafts from the glass.

Palate: Full-bodied but well-balanced, with ripe fruit as on the nose balanced by medium+ acidity. Tannins make their presence known but are silky-smooth. This is a very rich, concentrated wine that tastes like it could develop for a few more years. And it is absolutely delicious.

My Pairing

Sometimes you just have to go with a classic: this wine was so lovely I didn’t want anything on the plate to compete with it. Gabe and I grilled a big rib-eye steak seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of dried Sicilian herbs. A quick arugula salad with lemon juice and olive oil, and we were ready to enjoy.

Super-delish! But I think this wine could easily hold its own with bolder flavors: grilled lamb chops or even a long-simmered lamb and vegetable stew anyone?

Get to Know St. Supéry via Virtual Tastings and Chef Demonstrations

The winery is hosting a series of virtual events featuring their wines paired with seasonal dishes. Each InJoy Entertaining episode offers tips on how to welcome friends and family over the holidays. There’s no charge to participate and, if you’re interested, you can purchase the wines online in time for your particular tasting.

Find the event suited to your taste . . .

According to the website there are four events remaining: October 29th, November 5th, November 12th, and November 19th. I’m eyeing  the one on the 12th, which pairs the Napa Valley Estate Elu with Roasted Salmon with Herb Beurre Rouge.

Maybe I’ll see you there!


  1. When Mark and I moved to Sacramento in the early 2000s, St Supery was one of the first wineries we visited. They had a fabulous sensory area you could walk through. While I haven’t tasted any of their red wines (can you believe that?!?) their SB has always been one of my favs. Looking forward to a visit the next time we’re in Napa. And your pairing does sound delish as does the wine!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d love to visit one day! I don’t know if you saw it, but the winery is hosting a series of virtual events featuring their wines with special dishes. You can watch as a chef prepares the meal and describes why it pairs well with the particular wine. I think they go through January; I’m going to sign up for one of them even if I don’t have the bottle. Maybe I’ll see you there!


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