2016 Napa Valley Estate Élu

St. Supery Élu (Photo from the brand)

St. Supery Vineyards & Winery, founded in 1989, lies in the Rutherford AVA of Napa Valley. Rutherford, CA, directly north of Oakville, is one of the most respected, quality-driven Napa Valley sub-AVAs. Wines grown in Rutherford tend to have a characteristic dustiness on the palate, known as “Rutherford Dust” in tasting notes, which is used to reference tannins. The winery was founded in 1989 by Robert Skalli, whose grandfather and father were involved in the wine business in Algeria and Corsica. World-renowned enologist and consultant Michel Rolland came aboard in the 90s to elevate their red Bordeaux varietals. Over 500 acres, spanning two vineyard sites, are planted with multiple varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc (plus a few others), all of which show up in this Élu red blend.

St. Supery wines are 100% estate-grown and “Napa Green” certified in both the vineyard and the winery. Napa Green is a comprehensive, Napa-specific sustainability initiative for both growers and vintners that addresses elements from soil to bottle. Multiple tasting experiences are available at their Rutherford tasting room. The wine-only flights range from $40-$85, and a wine and food pairing flight runs $125 and includes four estate wines paired with four small bites. The included produce is sourced from the estate’s culinary garden. 

Many great red wines of the world are red blends, including from places such as Bordeaux, the Rhône Valley, and Portugal, and they have become increasingly popular in the US. The beauty of a blend is that one plus one does not equal two. It’s synergistic- greater than the sum of its parts. With a red blend, a producer can make a wine consistent within each vintage, developing a “house style,” or they might choose to make their blends with as much vintage variation as mother nature provides. Recently, domestic red blends have become an important category for wine consumers- nowhere is this more evident than on the grocery store and big box retailer shelves lined with “red blends” from California. 

2016 Napa Valley Estate Élu

Élu (French for “chosen” or “elected”) is the red blend for those seeking a premium wine experience- just because you want a red blend doesn’t mean you have to buy a “grocery store” version! The grapes used for this wine were destemmed, and the final wine aged 19 months in oak before release. The blend includes all the red Bordeaux “usual suspects:” 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 4% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot.

Élu delivers a balanced, juicy, and complex wine with a touch of age, with “juicy” the operative word: juicy cherries, juicy plums, and juicy blackberries. The fruit is ripe yet balanced. Complexity peeks in with notes of black licorice, coffee, and toast from the barrel aging. Dusty, moderate tannins and a persistent finish round out this satisfying wine. It’s a very versatile wine to pair with almost any meat dish (beef, pork, or even BBQ chicken) or to enjoy on its own. 

St. Supery wine prices range from $20-$225 per bottle.