Being a wine columnist definitely has its perks, but it also has its drawbacks.

As I sat in the dentist's chair, I was regaled with the dentist’s theories about wine and a laundry list of wines he recently sampled.

While I knew about most of the wines he was talking about, one came up that I had never heard of, Emmolo Winery.

I remarked, when he removed his mouth plumbing devices from my mouth, that I always enjoyed Italian wines but there are so many of them it is hard to keep up.

My dentist informed me that Emmolo was a Napa Valley producer.

After a bit of research I found them and made arrangements to get some.

I will end this paragraph with WOW!

Emmolo 2017 Napa Valley Merlot ($60). About 15 years ago, the up and coming star of the wine world was merlot. There was even a time when the demand far outreached the supply and prices skyrocketed. Unfortunately, the Merlot craze did not last too long and what remained was just too much of what had become an uninteresting wine. Many were transformed by farming and blending into Cabernet Sauvignon look-a-likes. The softness that made Merlot so popular in the early 90's has been glossed over in favor of Cabernet style by winemakers. The Emmolo 2017 Napa Valley Merlot might be just what is necessary to reignite America's love affair with Merlot. This is a grand wine, well balanced, intense in color and accentuating the aromas of ripe plums and dark raisins along with that elusive cedar. The flavor is a melding of blackberries, vanilla and oak. The finish is intense and loaded with fruit along with a soft tannic structure that will ensure many years of life for this wine. If you have given up hope of finding a fine, “old fashioned,” true to the style Merlot, this wine will reestablish your faith in the variety this one is definitely a winner.

Emmolo 2017 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($28). Here is another case where Emmolo has taken a variety that has fallen into disfavor and lifts it to new heights of excellence. The Sauvignon Blanc is another that has been misused, poorly produced and in recent years, relegated to the position of an “also ran.” This Sauvignon Blanc accents all the fruit flavors available from the Napa Valley grown grapes. Gone are the overpowering grassy flavors and aromas that have often been associated with this variety, and are replaced by the rich fruit-tastes of tropical fruits, melon, honey and Mandarin orange. Honeydew and vanilla are also present as under-flavors and they add their individual charm to the wine. If you have tried a Sauvignon Blanc wine in the past and had been turned off by the grassy and vegetative aromas and flavors, try this wine; it is totally different and totally exquisite.

Emmolo Sparkling No. 2 ($41.99). I believe that after the Cabernet Sauvignon, the most criticized and argued over wines are the sparkling wines. Almost every wine-producing country produces a sparkling wine, but only those made in a specific region in France and by a process called Methode Champenoise can be labeled as Sparkling Wine. Much of the sparkling wines of the world are produced by bulk processing techniques but only a few outside of the sparkling wine district are producer by the traditional, more costly and labor intensive methods; Emmolo Sparkling No. 2 is among the few. Made in the classical style of 56% Chardonnay and 44% Pinot Noir, this wine is not a French champagne knock off but a well-made California original. The aroma displays soft summer fruit and flavors with a crisp acid bite and a delicate yeast background. The flavor continues with the citrus and also shows significant amounts of apricots and honey. As one would expect from a Chardonnay based Sparkling wine, this one possess a soft, smooth, velvet-like creamy finish. It is a massive wine that bespeaks elegance and opulence as only a fine, sparkling wine can bestow.

Editor’s note: The prices listed in this column reflect the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

Bennet Bodenstein is a wine enthusiast and book author whose column appears in publications throughout the country.

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