Dear Frogtown Citizen:
It has been a very cold, cold, winter. Frogtown is experiencing the coldest winter in the eleven years of grape growing on the Dahlonega Plateau.
If the temperature does not get lower than 10 Degrees Fahrenheit, it would be unusual to have material bud necrosis or vine death. We had a few days when the temperature was less than 10 Degrees in the early morning. As the morning progressed, the temperature rose into the 20’s or 30’s. This pattern of single digit to rising temperatures should not cause a problem. As we prune, we are examining the buds to determine if any necrosis is present. Only after the vines bud out in late March or early April will we know for sure if we escaped material cold weather damage this winter.
On the positive side, the cold temperatures also kill lingering fungus, bacteria, viruses, and harmful insects (their lava or grubs).
Pruning is almost complete as I write these Notes.
Helen Tasting Room.
We are a few weeks away from breaking ground on Frogtown’s Helen Georgia Tasting Room. Cydney and I are excited about the expansion or our North Georgia wine tasting activities. We have designed the outside of this tasting room to resemble the single pitched roofs over the winery portion of our Dahlonega facility. The Tasting Room will be built into a hill on the property and have the appearance of a wine cave in the interior. The Helen Tasting Room will be another Frogtown facility incorporating interesting architectural features in a modern motif with a sprinkling of antique furniture and rugs.
2009 Vintage Wines. I continue to be very pleased with the wines from our 2009 harvest.
As many of you know from our conversations at the winery, I made a farming decision to reduce by 50% the fruit on our vines by cutting clusters off the vines to the ground early in the 2009 growing season. This decision proved to be “just what the vintage required,” as 90% of our grapes ripened and were harvested before September 16, 2009. From the 16th through the 25th of September, we experienced 22 inches of rain in a non-stop downpour. The September 16th to the 25th period is usually when we harvest a large portion of our red fruit! While the 2009 harvest came up almost 50 tons shy, we will trade quality for tonnage (quantity) all the time. Look for a wonderful and powerful 2009 Sangiovese. I am contemplating putting this Sangiovese in a Reserve bottle to sell for around $25.00. It is the best Sangiovese we ever harvested at Frogtown!
Unless we make a dessert wine, all Frogtown labeled wines are fermented completely dry. This fermentation protocol is the law in the Bordeaux Region of France. Violating this protocol will result in the loss of the privilege of making wine in this Region of France.
In 2004, we made our first Cachet wine. Cachet is made from 100% Vidal grapes. Vidal is the “ice wine” grape grown in Ontario, Canada, and the Finger Lakes region of New York.
The federal labeling rules require a wine producer to state in its label approval application that the grapes froze on the vine in order to qualify for labeling a wine an ice wine. I believe hell would freeze before a Georgia producer could harvest frozen grapes in Georgia that have not been spoiled by rot. Since Frogtown believes in absolute truth in labeling, Cachet is not referred to as an “ice wine” on its label. We make Cachet as if it were an ice wine by a freezing process employed after the grapes are harvested. This after harvest freezing process serves the same function of harvesting the frozen grapes (i.e. the concentration of sugars and flavors).
I had thought extensively about producing a red dessert wine in an “ice wine” style. In 2008, we put Tannat grapes through fermentation protocols enabling the concentration of sugars and flavors in a manner similar to the protocols we use with our Vidal grapes in creating Cachet. I was very satisfied with the results.
The 2008 Grandeur, the federally trademarked name we gave to this wine, has been extremely well-received. While the process is long and painful, this red dessert wine delivers a most satisfying dessert wine experience. Like all premium dessert wines, Grandeur is sweet on the beginning and mid pallet, with a remarkable dry wine finish. Frogtown Grandeur is value priced at $22.99 for a 375ml bottle of dessert wine. See the description below for more information on how Frogtown Grandeur is made.
For those Citizens who are receiving all red wines, the following wines are included in your shipment:
2006 Frogtown Touché. We are giving our Citizens a “sneak preview” of the 2006 Touché. We still have about 30 cases of the gold medal winning 2005 Touché to sell before we release the 2006 Touché. We are in no hurry to release the 2006 vintage of Touché. With the exception of the 2006 Touché, all Frogtown 2006 reds have been released. All of the ultra premium 2006 reds (Family Reserve Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, and Touché), were cellared for at least 30 months in a combination of new and used oak.
I thought the 2005 Touché was the best Touché made when I bottled this wine in 2008. With the imprimatur of being awarded a Gold Medal, Best-in-Class Designation from the Atlantic Seaboard 2008 Competition, the 2005 Touché did not let me down. With this in mind, I think the 2006 Touché is even better than the gold award-winning 2005 Touché. Competition results this year shall determine if professional wine judges at major competitions agree with my assessment. Retail price (has not changes since the inaugural 2001 Touché Vintage) – $21.99 per bottle
2006 Frogtown Tannat. Like all the respective 2006 premium Frogtown red wines, this 2006 Tannat is at the top of all the previous Frogtown vintages. I believe this vintage of our special varietal Tannat wine rivals the wonderful 2002 introductory vintage of this Southwestern regional French grape. Huge earthy black fruit with black pepper spice accents delivers an “in your face meat-taming wine” that has made Frogtown Tannat a favorite red wine of our Frogafiles. Retail price – $29.99 per bottle.
2008 Frogtown Grandeur. Unless an “all red” Citizen responded to Cydney’s e-mail and directed us to ship a red dry wine, an all red Citizen is receiving with this shipment the inaugural 2008 Frogtown Grandeur. This wine is made from 100% Tannat Grapes which were crushed and cold soaked for one month before pressed off and frozen for three more months in stainless steel and then slowly fermented at 50 Degrees. We started with 4,000 liters of juice and skins, only to end up with less than 2,000 liters of concentrated juice when we started fermentation. The Brix level went from 23.8 to 28.3 during the period of freezing concentration of the juice. This red dessert wine is wonderfully sweet with a dry finish on the pallet. Enjoy room temperature with soft artisan cheeses or with dark chocolate. Retail price for this 375ml bottle is $22.99.
For those Citizens who are receiving mixed red and white wines, in addition to the 2006 Touché and the 2006 Tannat described above, we are including in this shipment the following barrel fermented Chardonnay:
2008 FROGTOWN CHARDONNAY is the BEST Chardonnay Frogtown has produced to date according to Jordan Fiorentini, former Frogtown Winemaker and now Director of Winemaking at the Sonoma County, California, Chalk Hill Winery (and the mother of our granddaughter, Morgane). Fermented in 100% new oak (70% French and 30% tight grain North Central American) this Chardonnay is complex, rich and layered. The front pallet and nose consists of citrus flavors with hints of apple and pear. The mid pallet adds soft nuances of melon and fig and well integrated rich creamy oak flavors. This great Chardonnay has a long round supple finish with clinging acidity that adds to the enjoyment of chicken, fish, cheese, pasta, and salad pairings. Retail Price – $24.99.
For those Citizens who are receiving “all white” wines, in addition to the barrel fermented 2008 Chardonnay described above, we are including in this shipment the following wines:
2008 Frogtown Steel Chardonnay was fermented at 50 degrees in stainless steel (never saw the inside of an oak barrel) for three months. This crisp, acid-rich Chardonnay has citrus flavors complementing a green apple nose and finish. This wine, like French Chablis, is remarkably rich and round notwithstanding the absence of oak aging. Frogtown Steel Chardonnay is especially food friendly. Retail Price – $19.99.
It is not only fun, but educational to compare both 2008 Chardonnays. The difference in the fermentation and aging process results in two almost completely different wines
2006 Frogtown Cachet won a gold medal at the 2009 Jefferson Cup competition. The 2006 Frogtown Cachet is Frogtown’s premium dessert wine made in the style of an ice wine from Frogtown Vidal grapes. Cachet is a classic dessert wine with the presence of residual sugar in the front of the pallet and a relatively dry finish without a syrupy aftertaste. Enjoy this wine, very cold, with soft and flavorful artisan cheeses or dark chocolate.
We are enclosing with these Notes the Frogtown Calendar for 2010. Look over the dates and events carefully. There are a number of events PLANNED SOLELY FOR OUR CITIZENS.
I will provide additional information in my Notes accompanying the May 2010, shipment on (i) the July 10th Bastille Day Celebration providing barrel tastings and other cellar activities for Frogtown Citizens attending the Viva La Frogtown Dinner and (ii) the Harvest Experience with Craig for Frogtown Citizens attending the Harvest Dinner on September 11, 2010.
Best to all,