The concern we have is the early (prior to the last week in March or the first week in April) bud break of our vines followed by temperatures immediately before sunrise below 31 degrees Fahrenheit. If such temperatures occur under clear skies with dew points at or below the ambient temperatures, frost conditions will develop requiring frost fighting measures. In most years Frogtown has been required to fight frost by building small fires at the end of our rows, flying helicopters, using our wind machine and frost dragon equipment.
By the May, 2011 shipment I will be able to report to you on whether or not frost conditions have occurred and whether or not the frost will negatively affect our 2011 vintage.
With the December 2010 Shipment, I reported we have had a very productive post-harvest period of wine making. This shipment contains a number of very intensely hand crafter wines primarily intended for our Citizens. Below I will comment on these “Club Wines.”
We have continued to make progress in the bottling of our 2008 red wines and have completed the bottling of all of our 2009 white wines offerings. Our focus now will be on the blending of a number of our 2009 reds and the beginning of the assessment of our 2010 white wines. I continue to believe that the 2008 and 2009 reds and the 2009 and 2010 whites will be some of the best wines grown and bottled by Frogtown, as all three vintages have been above average to excellent.
Discussion on the Grapes and Wines in This Shipment.
As promised in our December, 2010 Notes, we are releasing our 2008 Norton bottling with this shipment. In my December, 2010 Notes I said the following:
“I am very excited about this Norton vintage. In addition to the classic supple layers of fruit present in Frogtown Norton, the 2008 vintage has the highest levels of tannin ever in a Frogtown Norton. I blended some 2008 Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon into this Norton.”
I really like what the Petit Verdot has added to our Norton. Petit Verdot is a powerful grape with intense color and flavors. Interesting, the Petit Verdot has “toned down” the Norton grape making this bottling of Norton much more vinifera-like than past Frogtown vintages. The addition of Cabernet Sauvignon has added structure to this wine. A pure 100% Norton wine, while deep in color and flavor, is not very tannic. The structure of Norton is also rather “loose” or “scattered” resembling a high alcohol Zinfandel wine. The addition of Cabernet Sauvignon knits the wine together and gives the wine the structure it requires.
I would be very surprised if this 2008 vintage of Norton does not win a Gold Medal in one of the 2011 Major Competitions that we enter this wine. We shall see – I have been disappointed in the past. But I sincerely do think gold is in the future for this wonderful Norton vintage. The 2008 Norton is a fitting encore to our 2006 Gold Medal vintage of Norton. Unlike the 2006 Vintage, we are blessed with plentiful amounts of the 2008 Norton for your enjoyment and purchase throughout this year.
Enclosed to our Red and Mixed Red and White Wine Club Citizens is our first release of a Malbec wine. This release also happens to be one of two Club wines released under the Disclosure Label in this Shipment. The Disclosure Label is used when we release a Club wine containing wine made from California grapes blended with wine made from our Estate grown Frogtown grapes. It is a specially designed descriptive label used exclusively for our Club Wines.
Malbec historically was a “Bordeaux grape” until the Bordeaux vintners gave-up on Malbec in the middle of the last century. Very similar to Merlot in some respects but substantially different than Merlot is other respects.
Malbec is the most planted grape in Argentina. I think what Australia did for the Syrah (Shiraz) grape, Argentina is accomplishing for the Malbec grape. Malbec is becoming a widely produced wine due in large part to the Malbec offerings from Argentina.
In France, most Malbec is now grown in Cahors in the South West region of France, near to the region where Tannat is grown. This grape is called Auxerrois or Cot (original French name for Malbec) in this South West region of France. In the Cahors region Malbec is often blended with Tannat to make a very dark full-bodied wine with long-aging capabilities.
The color of Malbec wine is dark, but so are a number of other wines grown at Frogtown. In my opinion, Malbec distinguishes itself from other red grapes making dark wines by its identification with the descriptor word DENSE. The color is dark but more opaque (i.e. DENSE) than other dark wines. Other dark wine grapes make a full-bodied wine, but the fullness, in a good Malbec wine, is even more full-bodied (i.e. DENSE).
The Disclosure First Malbec delivered to our Red and Mixed Citizens is a very, very dense, full-bodied wine exhibiting very supple mouth-feel (particularly for such a full-bodied wine) with lush plum and dark blue fruit flavors with light spicy and tobacco notes. The wine was made with three barrels of Russian River Malbec and one barrel of Frogtown Malbec and one barrel of Frogtown Cabernet Sauvignon. In conformity with our dedication to truth-in-labeling, this wine is put under an American wine appellation. As we have noted a number of times in the past, the United States regulations on wine labeling make no sense and are counter to truth-in-labeling. When utilizing an American label the rules prohibit the use of a vintage reference. So notwithstanding the fact that this wine is made entirely from 2008 vintage grapes, the American label regulations require us to designate this wine “First” to distinguish this wine from subsequent offerings of Disclosure Malbec.
I am excited to enclose to our all red Citizens our first offering of a varietal Frogtown Touriga Nacional. From our “lost” vintage of 2007 (frost contributing to a loss of 90% of our grapes in 2007), this is an interesting wine.
The Touriga Nacional grapes are some of the smallest grapes we grow. The “tiny” berries of Touriga Nacional have a relatively high skin to pulp ratio. This characteristic makes Touriga Nacional wines very intense in all respects. Intensity of aroma and flavor can be a good way to describe Touriga Nacional wines. Like many of the red grapes grown at Frogtown, Touriga Nacional is somewhat spicy with dark fruit flavors of blueberries and blackberries. But Touriga is distinctly and uniquely different in is offering of these blueberry and blackberry flavors. This uniqueness makes Touriga an ideal blending partner with Tannat (another dark blueberry/blackberry wine with hints of spice grown in our Estate vineyards). The blending of Touriga Nacional and Tannat, along with Cabernet Franc, results in our Shotgun gold medal winning wines.
This 2007 offering of Frogtown Touriga is a very dark full-bodied wine. There are many reasons to grow and blend Touriga into wine. For me the most compelling reason for growing and producing Touriga wine is the compelling purple violet nose in these wines. The violet nose on our Shotgun wines gives no hint of the flavor of this wine when drunk. It is almost a complete disconnect between the aroma on the nose to the aroma and taste once the wine is in your mouth. This violet aroma on the nose is present in this 2007 Touriga Nacional. This is an intense aromatic wine with supple tannins and a long lingering finish. You will not find the earthly characteristics of Shotgun in this wine. It exhibits more bright intense fruit than our Shotgun wine.
One could argue why would Frogtown make a Disclosure Chardonnay in light of the remarkable Chardonnay grown and produced at Frogtown. Our 2008 Frogtown barrel fermented Chardonnay has just won a gold medal from the prestigious Dallas Morning Star 2011 wine competition. This gold medal has followed four Silver Medals and a bronze Medal in other major competitions in 2010 for our 2008 Frogtown Chardonnay.
The answer is simple. It interests me to create unique East Coast West Coast wines. It goes without saying that Frogtown fruit is distinctly different from California fruit. I am amazed at the wines we have been able to achieve in making the combined wines from Frogtown and California better that the separate wine parts from these individual and distinct viticultural wine-growing regions.
I must admit, Chardonnay is not the first white wine I select when having a choice of white wines. This Disclosure First Chardonnay, however, is different. Since bottling, Cydney and I have opened a number of bottles of this Chardonnay bottling (of course just to see how the wine is doing “in the bottle”). It is very easy to be an advocate of this wine. When placed in a tasters mouth, this wine is easily identified as a Chardonnay. The wine takes the characteristics of the rich, full-body, supple, and balanced characteristics of barrel fermented Chardonnay to another dimension. Disclosure First Chardonnay is simply the most full-bodied rich white wine I have ever experienced. OK what is in this Chardonnay. We blended some Frogtown Chardonnay and Marsanne into Russian River Chardonnay from California to make a Chardonnay blend that is 90% Chardonnay and 10% Marsanne. I have been wanting to blend Marsanne into a Chardonnay wine for quite some time. But not desiring to tinker with what has been proven to be wonderful offering of 100% barrel fermented or steel fermented Chardonnay by Frogtown, I resisted the temptation to put some Marsanne into Frogtown Chardonnay.
The prospect of making a Disclosure branded Chardonnay eliminated any reluctance to “tinker” with the 100% Chardonnay traditionally made at Frogtown. So, into this tank went Marsanne. I am thrilled with the result. The Marsanne has added to the full-body and depth of this wine. The flavor profile is different from Frogtown Chardonnay. This wine exhibits apple flavor but not green apple. I get more ripe apple bordering on apple pie flavors. I do not perceive citric fruit on my palette but do get tropical fruit flavors of banana and mango. But most significantly, in place of oaky butter and cream flavors present in most barrel fermented 100% malolatic fermentation Chardonnay, I get wonderful butterscotch and hazelnut flavors with only a slight nuance of oak.
As a repeat of my prediction of the 2008 Norton winning a gold medal in a major competition, this Disclosure Chardonnay should find gold somewhere in 2011. It’s distinctly intense full-bodied mouth feel and lush palate should find support from judges. If there ever was a white wine that should appeal to a red wine drinker, it is this Disclosure First Chardonnay.
When to Drink These Wines.
Prior to the commencement of our Wine Club and when Frogtown was selling grapes to other wineries, we did not release any white or red wines until 3 to 6 months after bottling. With the onset of our Wine Club and the additional expansion of our wine offerings (presently, over 35 different wine offerings) and sales in the tasting room(s) and through package store and restaurant distribution, I have not had the luxury of delaying the release of recent bottled wines. So, as we stated in our December, 2010 Shipment, the enclosed wines have not reached their complete development. Each of the wines could use between 3 to 6 months of bottle age at 70 degree temperatures to complete their development. With the preceding sentence in mind, you will find the enclosed wines very enjoyable now. So, since we have additional bottles of all the Club wines sent in this shipment, you can enjoy these wines after about a week or so at 70 Degrees temperature and know that additional wine is available to you at the Tasting Room(s) or by FedEx shipment.
With this February 2010 Shipment, Frogtown is well on its way to delivering a most rewarding wine club experience by delivering to our Citizens very intensely hand crafted Club wines in addition to our regular wine offerings. Whether these wines are made under the Frogtown or Disclosure label, Club wines are made in quantities of 100 cases or less. It now takes approximately 40 cases of a wine to fulfill a Club Shipment. This leaves an additional quantity of Club wines for sale. A number of our Citizens have already added to their shipment quantities of these Club wines. It would be wonderful if we can sell out these wines only to our Citizens. So please order these wines after you have had an opportunity to enjoy them. As a new benefit to our Citizens, Club wines shipped subsequent to release in increments of three bottles will be shipped without a shipping charge. By e-mail and on-line we will keep you informed of the availability of Club wines for subsequent purchase.
What to expect in the May, 2011 Shipment.
Our all white wine Citizens should be in heaven with the wines delivered in this shipment and the wines which will be delivered in May. In May white wine Citizens and mixed red white wine Citizens should look forward to receiving white wine from the following recently bottled wines:
2009 Frogtown Marsanne
2009 Frogtown Roussanne
2009 Frogtown Barrel Fermented Chardonnay
2009 Frogtown Steel Chardonnay
2009 Frogtown Sauvignon Blanc
Our all red wine Citizens and mixed red and white Citizens should look forward to receiving red wine from the following recently bottled or to be bottled wines (yes, it is true 2008 Propaganda is not a misprint):
Shotgun, Second Reload
What’s happening with Helen, Georgia Tasting Room?
Craig is “messing with” the plans while this building is under construction; can’t help myself. I see things as the building is under construction. Lucky I am my own contractor. I would be a cost plus contractor’s delight with all the change orders which would be necessary. Anyway all is well that ends well and I can assure you that our Citizens will be delighted with this tasting room when completed.
Cydney is working on making this tasting room a clothing shopping experience as much as a wine tasting experience. As many of you know Cydney was a manufacturer of infant and toddler clothing for 25 years and her latent designer traits are surfacing in designing adult clothing with the Frogtown theme for our customers. Watch for Frogtown Clothing this summer at our Helen Tasting Room and on-line.
For those Citizens who are receiving all red wines enclosed you will find the 2008 Frogtown Norton,
2007 Frogtown Touriga, and Disclosure First Malbec, priced as follows:
2008 Frogtown Norton: Wine club members enjoy a 20% discount from Retail Price of $28.99. I have not increased the price of our Frogtown Norton wines from the first vintage in 2002.
2007 FrogtownTouriga: Wine club members enjoy a 20% discount from Retail Price of $27.99.
Disclosure First Malbec: Wine club members enjoy a 20% discount from Retail Price of $29.99.
For those Citizens who are receiving all red and white wines, the following Disclosure First Chardonnay is substituted for the 2007 Frogtown Touriga included in the all red Citizens shipment which
Disclosure First Chardonnay is priced as follows:
Disclosure First Chardonnay: Wine club members enjoy a 20% discount from Retail Price of $27.99.
For those Citizens who are receiving all white wines, in addition to the Disclosure First Chardonnay described immediately above, we are including in this shipment the following two wines:
2009 FROGTOWN INCLINATION- This is Inclination! I am pleased we are able to make Inclination in a recognizable manner year in and year out. This is truly a wonderful Inclination. Wine club members enjoy a 20% discount from Retail Price of $18.99.
2009 FROGTOWN VINEAUX BLANC – As with Inclination you will not have any difficulty recognizing this 2009 vintage of Vineaux Blanc as Frogtown quality Vineaux Blanc wine. Let’s hope it achieves a gold medal like the 2008 Frogtown Vineaux Blanc achieved in 2010. Wine club members enjoy a 20% discount from
Retail Price of $14.99.
Enclosed with this Shipment, in addition to these Notes, is our 2011 Calendar. Please pay particular attention to the events shown for Frogtown Citizens Only.
Best to all,