Here’s a Merlot for all seasons
By John Schreiner
December 12, 2006
t has been reported that roast beef, not turkey, is the preferred holiday cuisine for many people.
If you are in the beef crowd, I have a red wine from the Napa Valley for you, one that tastes like a special holiday wine but at a reasonable price.
The wine is the 2003 Merlot from a small producer, the Emmolo Wine Company, listed in British Columbia’s specialty stores at $35 a bottle.
Until a sample bottle showed up on my door step, I had never heard of Emmolo. Chances are neither have you.
Actually, it is an old name in the Napa Valley. Salvatore Emmolo, the grandfather of the current owner, opened a rootstock nursery there in 1923. He had the bad luck to build a winery which, because of Prohibition, never opened.
His son, Frank, took over the nursery and also planted a vineyard in the Rutherford District. He was one of the Napa’s early growers of Sauvignon Blanc. In 1990, he added Merlot vines.
In 1994, Cheryl Emmolo, Frank’s daughter and Salvatore’s granddaughter, completed the circle by establishing the Emmolo Wine Company. It makes primarily Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot.
A fourth generation is poised to continue this winery. Charlie and Joey Wagner, Cheryl’s sons (still in their 20s), are now making the wine.
The winery’s web site does not provide production figures. Emmolo does make enough wine to sell in it half the American states, as well as in British Columbia and Alberta. According to the BC Liquor Distribution Branch’s web site, there currently are 358 cases of the Merlot distributed among 18 liquor stores. Most of it is in lower mainland stores but some has been spread farther afield. There is, for example, a single case in Kamloops.
The Emmolo Merlot is a delicious wine. Richly deep in colour, it has a medley of fruit aromas, including blueberry and black currant. Bold and concentrated in texture, it tastes of ripe plums, blueberries and blackberries, with a note of spice on the finish. The wine is round and ripe, almost sexy with the lush appeal of its sweet fruit. The finish, however, is dry.
This is a wine I would be happy to have on my holiday table, not only with a slice of medium rare prime rib but with a variety of cuisines.
Typically, there is so much booze around at the holidays that one wine fades into another. The vivid flavours of the Emmolo Merlot, however, ensure that you and your guests will sit up and pay attention. My rating: 88 points.