Emmolo Merlot 2012
Production and Style
Merlot is a variety that requires hands-on manipulation in the vineyard to make a rich, concentrated wine. Crop thinning throughout the growing season leads to a low yield of rich, concentrated fruit. Grapes are sourced from Emmolo Oak Knoll, which includes two vineyards, one of which my grandfather Frank Emmolo purchased in 1972. On an average summer day, Oak Knoll is about 7 degrees cooler than Rutherford, allowing for a longer "hang time" than in warmer areas, which means that we can push the grapes to full ripeness. Harvest came in early to mid-October, and the combination of cooler weather, crop thinning and gravely light soil created ideal conditions for producing a rich,distinctive Merlot.
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Emmolo is named for Jenny’s maternal ancestors, who came to Napa Valley in 1923, buying property that remains in the family to this day. Her great-grandfather started a grapevine rootstock nursery that became the leading supplier to Napa Valley growers. Her mom, Cheryl Emmolo, has no brothers and always dreamed of keeping the family name alive by making wine using family vineyards. She launched Emmolo in 1994 and turned the reins over to Jenny in 2011.
On the paternal side, Jenny’s Napa Valley roots trace back to 1857, when her third great-grandfather captained a wagon train to the region, beginning a long history of farming and winemaking. In 1972, Jenny’s father, Chuck Wagner, founded Caymus Vineyards along with her grandparents.
As owner and winemaker for Emmolo Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc, Jenny has pursued a distinct style for these wines and embraces new techniques in both the vineyard and her winemaking. With her Sauvignon Blanc, she is going after a subtle wine that is more minerality-driven than fruit-driven. With her Merlot, she relishes the challenge of enticing people to try a bold, rich wine with a style that is not what they typically expect. Most of the grapes for Emmolo are still grown on family property, and Jenny’s grandparents still live in Napa Valley – where they sit on their porch keeping an eye on the vines.
Undoubtedly proving its merit over and over, Napa Valley is a now a leading force in the world of prestigious red wine regions. Though Cabernet Sauvignon dominates Napa Valley, other red varieties certainly thrive here. Important but often overlooked include Merlot and other Bordeaux varieties well-regarded on their own as well as for their blending capacities. Very old vine Zinfandel represents an important historical stronghold for the region and Pinot noir is produced in the cooler southern parts, close to the San Pablo Bay.
Perfectly situated running north to south, the valley acts as a corridor, pulling cool, moist air up from the San Pablo Bay in the evenings during the hot days of the growing season, which leads to even and slow grape ripening. Furthermore the valley claims over 100 soil variations including layers of volcanic, gravel, sand and silt—a combination excellent for world-class red wine production.