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Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
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.
One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production as well as tourism, the Napa Valley was responsible for bringing worldwide recognition to California winemaking. In the 1960s, a few key wine families settled the area and hedged their bets on the valley's world-class winemaking potential—and they were right.
The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980s, when producers scooped up vineyard lands and planted vines throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, and today Napa is home to hundreds of producers ranging from boutique to corporate. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Napa whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that claim specific characteristics based on situation, slope and soil. Farthest south and coolest from the influence of the San Pablo Bay is Carneros, followed by Coombsville to its northeast and then Yountville, Oakville and Rutherford. Above those are the warm St. Helena and the valley's newest and hottest AVA, Calistoga. These areas follow the valley floor and are known generally for creating rich, dense, complex and smooth reds with good aging potential. The mountain sub appellations, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs, include Stags Leap District, Atlas Peak, Chiles Valley (farther east), Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, Spring Mountain District and Diamond Mountain District. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from a lot of time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
A crisp, refreshing variety that equally reflects both terroir and varietal character, Sauvignon blanc is responsible for a vast array of wine styles. However, a couple of commonalities always exist—namely, zesty acidity and intense aromatics. The variety is of French provenance, and here is most important in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. It also shines in New Zealand, California, Australia and parts of northeastern Italy. Chile and South Africa are excellent sources of high-quality, value-priced Sauvignon blanc.
In the Glass
From its homeland In Bordeaux, winemakers prefer to blend it with Sémillon to produce a softer, richer style. In the Loire Valley, it expresses citrus, flint and smoky flavors, especially from in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume. Marlborough, New Zealand often produces a pungent and racy version, often reminiscent of cut grass, gooseberry and grapefruit. California produces fruity and rich oak-aged versions as well as snappy and fresh, Sauvignon blancs, which never see any oak.
The freshness of Sauvignon Blanc’s flavor lends it to a range of light, summery dishes including salad, seafood and mild Asian cuisine. Sauvignon Blanc settles in comfortably at the table with notoriously difficult foods like artichokes or asparagus. When combined with Sémillon (and perhaps some oak), it can be paired with more complex seafood and chicken dishes.
Along with Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc is the proud parent of Cabernet Sauvignon. That green bell pepper aroma that all three varieties share is no coincidence—it comes from a high concentration of pyrazines (an herbaceous aromatic compound) inherent to each member of the family.