Dear Frogtown Citizen:
This is the time of the year Frogtown begins the process of pruning all 22,000 grape vines. Like many aspects in viticulture and winemaking, pruning is as much an art as it is a science. I would personally miss the opportunity to stand before a vine and make decisions on what is the best pruning strategy for the vine for the coming year. Frogtown is blessed to have very skilled vineyard workers to accomplish this pruning task which will extend from December, 2009, to March, 2010. Over ninety-five (95%) percent of the growth during 2009 will be eliminated by pruning all shoots to two buds. The quantity of fruit at bud break 2010 directly relates to the amount of sun andweather patterns experienced in 2009. While there was sufficient sun in 2009, the quantity of rain at the vineyard was more that twice the rain received in 2003, the next most rainy vintage. Only at bud break (late March or early April) will we know whether or not 2009’s rains will be a factor in the fruitfulness of the vines in 2010.
Introduction of 2008 Audacity and the Sangiovese grape.
We are including with this shipment a bottle of Frogtown 2008 Audacity. This wine is a blend of 55% Sangiovese and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon.
We have grown Sangiovese from the commencement of the vineyard. It is an extremely difficult grape to grow in our humid environment. I probably spend more time on growing Sangiovese than any of Frogtown’s 21 different grape varieties. Frogtown planted the Di Grosso clone of Sangiovese; the same clone grown in the Montalcino area of Tuscany where the long-lived Brunello di Montalcino wines are produced. The Di Grosso clone is the largest of the Sangiovese clones with very thin skins. The size of this grape coupled with its thin skins makes the grape very susceptible to disease. Also, the higher ratio of juice and pulp to skin we experience with Sangiovese makes it a challenge to get good color in our Sangiovese based wines. Notwithstanding the above, I have learned to deal with these negative viticultural attributes of Sangiovese and during the last five years delivered very good to excellent Sangiovese grapes to our winery. In fact, 2009 is the best Sangiovese grapes we have ever harvested at Frogtown. If the 2009 Sangiovese wine develops well in the cellar over the next 18 to 24 months, we plan on bottling a special 2009 Family Reserve Sangiovese which will sell for around $25.00 a bottle.
I have been told by a number of people that Frogtown Sangiovese wines deliver more of the classic Tuscan flavors and texture than many of the California Sangiovese labeled wines, including, in most vintages, the Atlas Peak Sangiovese. Atlas Peak is owned by the famous Tuscan Antinori family. The influence of the Antinori family to the wines of Tuscany is like comparing the influence of the Mondavi family to wines of California. Some of the most wonderful Chianti and Super Tuscan wines I have ever had the pleasure to taste were made by the Antinori family. Our daughter, Jordan (Director of Winemaking at Chalk Hill, Sonoma County) was selected, upon her graduation from UC Davis, to intern at Antinori in Tuscany.
It is my belief that Sangiovese “needs” more humidity than available in California to develop complexity and the classic bright cherry/black cherry earthy flavors in classic Sangiovese. The cloudy and rainy days we experience, from time to time, during the growing season in Northeast Georgia, gives our Sangiovese grapes “time-off” from the summer sun and heat. Many of the viticultural areas in California where Sangiovese is grown may produce excessive sun and heat during the day preventing Sangiovese grapes from developing these classic earthly cherry flavors.
With the sole exception of 2003, when no Frogtown red fruit was bottled under a Frogtown label (I created our second label, Thirteenth Colony, as a “home” for our 2003 red fruit), Frogtown has made a varietal Sangiovese in each of its first six released vintages.
Our Audacity wine was “born” during the wonderful 2008 harvest. As our Sangiovese grapes were being harvested, I decided to make a “Super Tuscan” style wine from our premium Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. With more intense fruit and complexity than our varietal Sangiovese wines, Audacity delivers on the cherry flavors of the Sangiovese grape and the complete pallet experience one can only receive from premium ripe Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.
Throughout Tuscany, a number of the Chianti producers have decided to make Sangiovese blends with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Syrah grapes. These specially blended wines are referred to in the wine business as “Super Tuscan” wines. In producing Super Tuscan wines, Tuscan vintners have been freed of the requirement to blend from 10 to 30 percent of white wine into Sangiovese red wine in order to legally refer to such wine as Chianti.
For those of you that are receiving all red wines or red and white wines, we have included the following wines in this fourth Wine Club shipment:
2008 Frogtown Audacity -described above. Wine Club members enjoy a 20% discount from Retail Price of $25.99.
2006 Frogtown Cabernet Sauvignon -The 2006 Vintage is only the third Frogtown vintage of a varietal Cabernet Sauvignon wine! This bottle of Cabernet reminds me of a premium Bordeaux Medoc wine from the commune of St. Julien; and particularly the 1982 Bordeaux Vintage. Yes, I am old enough to have purchased Bordeaux vintages upon release in quantity from the 1978 vintage until the time Frogtown was founded in 1999. This very supple Frogtown Cabernet wine will increase in intensity as it ages in the bottle. Lovely notes of chocolate, vanilla, and dark cherry fruit complement a wonderful finish. This is a GREAT food wine to enjoy with your favorite steak. Wine Club members enjoy a 20% discount from Retail Price of $29.99.
For our Citizens receiving all red the third bottle included in this shipment is:
2006 Frogtown Sangiovese- I could not resist the opportunity to include our current 2006 varietal Sangiovese along with the 2008 Audacity. Not many wineries make Sangiovese wines let alone two wines containing a majority of Sangiovese grapes. We blended approximately 10% of our 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon grapes into this 2006 Sangiovese. This Sangiovese is a light to medium bodied red wine with distinctive cherry flavors with an earthly fruity finish. It is one of the best wines to enjoy with any Salmon dish. Wine club members enjoy a 20% discount from Retail Price of $18.99.
For our Citizens receiving red and white, the third bottle included in this shipment is:
Frogtown 2008 Steel Chardonnay – Fermented at 50 Degrees F in stainless steel (never saw the inside of an oak barrel) for three months, this wonderful crisp, acid rich Chardonnay has citrus flavors complementing a green apple nose and finish. This French Chablis-like Chardonnay is remarkably rich and round notwithstanding the absence of oak aging. Frogtown Steel Chardonnay is a special food friendly wine which sells out quickly when available. This is a very good example of why Chardonnay is the “queen of grapes.” Wine Club members enjoy a 20% discount from Retail Price of $19.99.
For those of you that are receiving all white wines, we have included the following wines in this fourth wine club shipment:
2008 Frogtown Steel Chardonnay – described above
2008 Frogtown Vineaux Blanc – we have just released this white wine, as our supply of 2006 Vineaux Blanc became exhausted. We have made Vineaux Blanc in every vintage except 2007 when we lost almost 90% of our fruit to a three day freeze occurring one day after Easter 2007. The Seyval and Viognier grapes in this wine were fermented in Stainless Steel and in Oak barrels. This bright crisp white wine is a refreshing combination of pineapple and citrus, with a touch of toast. A small portion of the wine is put trough malolatic fermentation to assist in the smooth long finish for which this wine has become known. Wine Club members enjoy a 20% discount from Retail Price of $14.99.
2008 Frogtown Viognier – we have not yet officially released this vintage of our classic Viognier wine. I would suggest keeping this bottle outside of any wine cellar or stand-alone wine cabinet at standard room temperature for one to two months before you enjoy what is inside this bottle. I just adore Viognier. I am very particular on the growing, fermentation, and clarifying of our Viognier wines. Always made in relatively small amounts, this Viognier is a worthily successor to the wonderful 2004 Viognier (Georgia’s only GOLD medal in a major California competition) and 2006 Viognier. I have coined the phrase that “Viognier is the red wine drinkers white wine” for good reason. In enjoying this wine, you will notice the mouth feel (particularly the viscosity) is similar to a red wine. This complex white wine delivers kiwi fruit, melon, pineapple, and peach flavors and a smooth and long-lasting finish. Wine Club members enjoy a 20% discount from Retail Price of $24.99.
Cost of Wines After 20% Discount and Including Shipping and Sales Tax.
For red only Citizens the charge for the enclosed wines is $76.17; for our red and white wine Citizens, the charge for the enclosed wines is $77.02; and for white only Citizens, the charge for the enclosed wines is $63.33.
Your next shipment will be in February, 2010.
Look for, and please purchase, Frogtown wines at restaurants and package stores in Georgia. Best to all,