FEBRUARY ’13 WINEMAKER NOTES

Dear Frogtown Citizen:

Calendar of Events

Enclosed with this shipment you will find a 2013 Frogtown Events Calendar. There are many Citizens Only Exclusive Events. Please choose those Events you would like to attend and mark your calendars. We ask that you make reservations to attend each Citizens Only Exclusive Event at least one week before the Event. While it is our intention to have Citizens attend all their desired Citizens Only Exclusive Events, some Events, like Harvest Day with Craig, could be subscribed beyond our ability to accommodate all those wanting to attend, so please don’t wait to the last moment to sign up. Cydney will send e-mails to our Citizens before each Citizens Only Exclusive Event reminding you of the upcoming Event.

Citizen Soirées

Last year we had excellent attendance at our Citizen Soirées. This year, as you will read below, we shall have alternative venues to hold Citizen Only Events. The new venues should provide a better environment for these Exclusive Events.

Harvest Day with Craig

Harvest’s Day with Craig is scheduled for the weekend of September 21 and 22, 2013.

I checked with Mother Nature and she assured me Frogtown vineyards will have lots of ripe succulent fruit available for harvest on this weekend and the weather will be partly cloudy with temperatures in the low 70’s with no chance of rain.

To assist in accommodating all Citizens who want to participate in harvest, the format this year is a little different. We will be harvesting on September 21st and 22nd. At the time of registering for the Event, you will indicate you preference of harvest days. The Harvest Dinner will be on Saturday, September 21st. All Citizens harvesting on either the 21st or the 22nd shall attend the Harvest Dinner on Saturday evening.

Although overnight accommodations are not required, we strongly advise all of our Citizens to take advantage of such accommodations to ensure a great weekend. Because of the time of year Citizens should make reservations for housing as soon as possible. A two night required stay should be expected at quality establishments. Whether you will harvest on Saturday, September 21st or on Sunday, September 22nd, an overnight on the 21st after the Harvest Dinner is highly recommended. Cydney will provide you with some choices on housing in the near future.

The program for the 21st is as follows:

  • Arrive at 7:30 am or later. A light Continental Breakfast will be served.
  • At 8:30 am we shall promptly commence harvest; which shall conclude between 11:30 and 12 Noon.
  • At 12 Noon we break for lunch.
  • At 1:30 pm we shall commence processing the fruit harvested and I will hold seminars about the protocols and what is achieved during processing.
  • At 4:00 pm processing activities shall cease and you should have plenty of time to go to your rooms to freshen up for the Harvest Dinner.

 

The program for the 22nd is as follows:

  • Arrive at 7:30 am or later. A light Continental Breakfast will be served.
  • At 8:30 we shall promptly commence harvest; which shall conclude between 11:30 and 12 Noon.
  • At 12 Noon we break for lunch.
  • At 1:30 pm we shall commence processing the fruit harvested and I will hold seminars about the protocols and what is achieved during processing.
  • At 4:00 pm processing activities shall cease and the days activities concluded.

Frogtown shall charge each participating Citizen’s account $135.00 per person attending Harvest Day.

Vineyard Update

Winter in the vineyard is a relatively peaceful, quiet time. The primary activities involve winter pruning, incorporating required amendments into the soils, row plowing (to introduce oxygen to the root zones and improve root growth in the spring), and preparing those areas that will be replanted with vines this spring.

Weather patterns have been rainy and rather warm. We would like to have considerably cooler temperatures at this time of the year to assist us in reducing the harmful insect population and over-wintering molds and mildews on the woody surfaces of the vines.

New Construction

We are in the process of constructing a new Wedding Ceremony Pavilion between vineyard rows in our lower B Block vineyard next to the lake. This Pavilion will enhance greatly the wedding experience at Frogtown for those brides wanting to have their wedding ceremony “in the vines.” The Pavilion overlooks the lake (and fountain) and a magnificent up-hill view of our D Block vineyard and a panoramic view of Yonah, Pink, and Wauka Mountains to the east.

Also under construction is an enclosure of a portion of our vineyard patio area (the covered patio to the right as you enter our driveway). This will provide a temperature-controlled environment for tastings. This enhancement will increase the enjoyment of wine tastings at Frogtown on Saturday’s when we close our main hospitality facility to wine tastings and food service as a result of a wedding.

I plan on utilizing the Wedding Ceremony Pavilion and the enhanced enclosed patio area as a venue for our Wine Club Citizen Only Exclusive Events, including specifically Soirées. This should result in Frogtown providing a Citizen Only Exclusive Event in a more controlled environment without the problem of non-Citizens “crashing” a Citizen Only Exclusive Event.

I also want to utilize the enclosed vineyard patio area as a venue for Citizens to join me in exclusive tastings and discussions of Frogtown wines, including, recently bottled, recently released, recently Medal awarded, and even library wines that will be “released” only to Citizens. I enjoy tremendously conducting these tastings and discussions with our Wine Club Citizens on a one to one basis. Having these tastings and discussions in our main hospitality area on a busy Saturday has been problematic. You will not find these special tastings and discussions in our 2013 Calendar; so look for announcements of these gatherings in our e-mails to you, our Citizens.

Formation of the Georgia Fine Wine Alliance…………..Frogtown’s Withdrawal from WAG

Over the 13 years Frogtown was a member of the Wine Growers Association of Georgia (“WAG”), Cydney and I grew increasingly concerned about the direction and objectives of this private trade association. As of the beginning of this year Frogtown is no longer a member of WAG.

Our first major concerned arose when WAG refusal to support Frogtown in requiring its members to only bottle wine under a Georgia label if the wine contains 100% Georgia gapes.

Our concerns increased as a result of the permissive attitude and willingness by WAG to operate this trade association on a primarily “inclusive” basis, seeking new members and permitting existing member to be a part of this association regardless of wine quality issues. This permissive attitude included allowing WAG members who were initially vineyard only members to call themselves a “winery” even when such members do not own any winemaking equipment or a physical winery building. Such members either purchase wine from other WAG members or processed “their grapes” into wine at other member wineries.

Believing it is in Frogtown’s best interest to align our vineyard and winery with like-minded quality oriented Georgia wineries; Frogtown and Wolf Mountain have formed the Georgia Fine Wine Alliance. Enclosed in this shipment is a brochure describing our new Alliance with Wolf Mountain.

In reviewing the enclosed 2013 Frogtown Events Calendar, you will notice joint wine dinners scheduled at Wolf Mountain (on April 13, 2013) and at Frogtown (on August 17, 2013). There shall be other events and marketing efforts involving the Georgia Fine Wine Alliance in the future. We are excited about our new Alliance with Wolf Mountain. Frogtown looks forward to supporting Wolf Mountain’s winemaking endeavors, including selling a substantial portion of our Chardonnay and Viognier and other grapes to Wolf Mountain each year.

Select Discussion of the Cabernet Franc Grape and Wine Included in This Shipment.

Included in this shipment to our All Red and Mixed Citizens is a bottle of our 2009 Kritzer Family Reserve Cabernet Franc. This is our first ever Reserve of a Cabernet Franc labeled wine.

Back in 2009, after the bottling of the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006 Merlot, 2006 Cabernet Franc, and 2006 Tannat, I was “debating with myself” whether to designate the Cabernet Franc or the Merlot as the Reserve wine for 2006. Since a Reserve Bottling is rare at Frogtown, I only wanted one Reserve labeled wine in 2006. All of these wines were wonderful, including the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Tannat. Instead of designating the Cabernet Franc, I decided to designate the 2006 Merlot as the Family Reserve. The rest is history. The 2006 Merlot is simply the best bottling of red wine Frogtown has ever achieved to date. It was the right decision. The 2006 Merlot evolved into a better wine than the 2006 Cabernet Franc, although both wines, and the Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat received multiple Gold Medals in California.

I knew Frogtown had a very special 2009 Cabernet Franc immediately after fermentation. During the 2009 growing season, I was concerned that the Cabernet Franc vines were not ripening fruit as quickly as our other red wine grapes. At harvest, however, and in fermentation the color or these Cabernet Franc grapes were outstanding. We used two different yeasts with these Cabernet Franc grapes, both fermented in our two 1,000-gallon open top temperature controlled fermenting tanks. The wines produced from these two yeasts were only slightly distinguishable from one another. I used a blend from these two yeast fermentations in creating the 2009 Cabernet Franc Family Reserve.

The 2009 Reserve Cabernet Franc is without question Frogtown’s best bottling of a varietal Cabernet Franc to date. Made from 100% Cabernet Franc grapes, this medium to full-bodied wine is intriguing in its lack of any vegetal flavors and its elegance and finesse with complex black fruit flavors of cassis, blackberry and blueberry throughout the palate with some raspberry and concluding in a long enticing finish, with slight nuance of tobacco. It is this presence of tobacco that is present in so many premium Bordeaux varietal wines that I just love and strive to achieve. This Reserve wine possesses just the right about of oak to enhance the fruit in this wine and provide some vanilla and toasty cocoa bean nuances.

Let’s discuss Cabernet Franc, the grape. Quite frankly and truthfully, I planted Cabernet Franc at Frogtown in 1999 with not a great deal of thought or knowledge about the grape. Cabernet Franc appealed to me because (i) it is a classic Bordeaux red grape, (ii) it is more planted on the East Coast than Cabernet Sauvignon, having substantial varietal recognition in the East, and (iii) I thought Cabernet Franc grown under Frogtown vineyard’s long-growing conditions would result in (A) Cabernet Franc fruit containing more ripe flavors than that produced in other East Coast viticultural areas and (B) the wines made from such riper Cabernet Franc grapes would not contain the substantial vegetal, steely flavors present in most East Coast Cabernet Franc wines.

Well numbers (i) and (ii) above continue to be accurate in 2013 and number (iii) has proven to be correct.

Having grown Cabernet Franc and Merlot for 14 years at Frogtown, I am suspicious and not certain why Cabernet Franc is so popular on the East Coast. The Merlot grape grows very well in the East Coast and ripens in a shorter time in the vineyard with good to very good color and substantially less vegetal flavors than Cabernet Franc. So why is Cabernet Franc the preferred East Coast Bordeaux varietal? I have come to the conclusion the answer to this question lies within the accepted and expected sensory perception of East Coast Cabernet Franc wines. Presence of a very recognizable vegetal component in Cabernet Franc, particularly East Coast grown Cabernet Franc wine, IS acceptable and probably EXPECTED. Vegetal Merlot is simply not acceptable or expected even on the East Coast. Also, the lighter color of a Cabernet Franc wine, as compared to a quality Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon wine, again is acceptable and possibly expected on the East Coast. So if you were an East Coast grape grower, why not plant Cabernet Franc when the resulting wines are not severely punished for being light and vegetal? Clearly, the answer to this question is an East Coast grower would be foolish NOT to plant Cabernet Franc grapes.

At Frogtown, if our Cabernet Franc grapes consistently produced the relatively light, vegetal wines present in many other East Coast Cabernet Franc wines, I would have yanked the vines out of the vineyard and planted more Merlot.

The key to Frogtown’s success with the Cabernet Franc grape is that we fully ripen Cabernet Franc grapes! Our Cabernet Franc grapes produce Cabernet Franc wines with an elegance and finesse about them that translates into materially enhancing Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, and Touriga Nacional based wines. Our varietal labeled bottling’s of Cabernet Franc produce dark Cabernet Franc wines with a peppery perfume and aroma of blueberry, raspberry, cassis, and tobacco and sometimes even a violet aroma.

If there is an issue with Cabernet Franc grown at Frogtown it is one of color. In some vintages the color of our fully ripe Cabernet Franc wines are lighter than what I want. But even when our Cabernet Franc wines have this lighter color, such wines do not exhibit the expected characteristic vegetal flavors and aromas of Cabernet Franc, particularly Cabernet Franc from the East Coast.

So what does Frogtown do in a vintage when our Cabernet Franc is lighter than what I demand from this grape?

  • We do not produce a varietal labeled Cabernet Franc from such vintage.
  • We blend a relatively small amount more of Tannat and/or Touriga into the Proprietary Blends containing this vintage of Cabernet Franc. What are those blends? Frogtown Touche, Frogtown Shotgun, and Frogtown Personality. The extra amount of Tannat and Touriga Nacional adds the extra amount of color needed to offset the lighter Cabernet Franc in these blended wines. Wow, by a winemaker’s “slight of hand” Frogtown gets all of the benefit these wine blends receive from the character of Cabernet Franc in such vintage without a resulting lighter wine than expected just by “tweaking” the amount of Tannat and/or Touriga Nacional.

OK, if Craig adds just a little more Tannat or Touriga Nacional to the referenced Frogtown Proprietary Blends in years of lighter Cabernet Franc, why can’t Craig add a little Tannat or Touriga Nacional to the Frogtown Cabernet Franc for purposes of adding color and make a varietal bottling of Cabernet Franc? Can’t a winemaker blend up to 25% of a different grape or grapes into Cabernet Franc and still label the wine Cabernet Franc? Good questions.

Yes, a varietal Cabernet Franc could contain 75% or more of Cabernet Franc and 25% or less of Tannat. But what would a blend of Cabernet Franc and Tannat taste like? In my experience 3% of Tannat blended with 97% Cabernet Franc could clearly be called Cabernet Franc on the label but it would not be a Frogtown Cabernet Franc wine. The wine will not taste like Cabernet Franc labeled wines we have made in the past! So, I pass. I rather not make a Cabernet Franc labeled wine; them make a Cabernet Franc wine that is dissimilar to other Cabernet Franc wines previously made at Frogtown.

As an aside: I have experience California grown Cabernet Franc wines that were very dark wines, but clearly contained vegetal aroma and flavor, and I have experienced French Cabernet Franc wines called Chinon that were relatively light wines, but contained no appreciable amount of vegetal aroma and flavor (Chinon wines can contained very minor amounts of Rosé made from Cabernet Franc grapes, and even white wine usually made from Chenin Blanc grapes).

As an additional aside: DNA testing has established that Cabernet Sauvignon is a genetic hybrid of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Wait a moment. Cabernet Franc is generally a lighter wine than Cabernet Sauvignon. How can a lighter red grape parent crossed with a white wine grape parent produce a more intense, darker color, and need we forget, the King of red wine grapes? If you think you have the answer, please e-mail me. It simply is not logical.

Wines Included in this Shipment.

All Red Citizens

All Red Citizens will receive a bottle of the 2009 Kritzer Cabernet Franc Family Reserve referred to above, a bottle of the 2008 Frogtown Bravado Super Tuscan, and another Super Tuscan wine, the 2009 Frogtown Audacity. While the 2009 Frogtown Audacity is only approximately 7 months in the bottle, you will clearly recognize this Audacity as a worthily successor to the wonderful 2008 Frogtown Audacity. You will also experience how different the 2008 Frogtown Bravado, Super Tuscan, containing Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tannat is from the 2009 Frogtown Audacity, Super Tuscan, containing Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The regular retail cost of these wines, without sales tax is $98.97. All red Citizens will receive a discount of 24.23% (rather than 20%) to reduce the Citizen cost of these wines to $75.00 before sales tax. The addition of sales tax results in a cost for pick-up of $80.25 and the addition of $12.00 shipping results in a cost for these wines shipped of $92.25.

Red and White

All Mixed Red and White Citizens are receiving a bottle of our 2009 Kritzer Cabernet Franc Family Reserve referred to above, a bottle of the 2009 Frogtown Audacity referred to above, and a bottle of the 2011 Frogtown Sauvignon Blanc. As compared to other Frogtown Sauvignon Blanc bottled in the past, the 2011 Frogtown Sauvignon Blanc contains 15% Sauvignon Gris grapes. The addition of the Sauvignon Gris grapes to this Sauvignon Blanc labeled wine results in a more structured, flavorful white wine than a wine with just 2011 Sauvignon Blanc grapes. This 2011 vintage should be a Sauvignon Blanc wine that improves in the bottle for up to three years.

The regular retail cost of these wines, without sales tax is $96.97. Mixed Citizens will receive a discount of 22.66% (rather than 20%) to reduce the Citizen cost of these wines to $75.00 before sales tax. The addition of sales tax results in a cost for pick-up of $80.25 and the addition of $12.00 shipping results in a cost for these wines shipped of $92.25.

All White Citizens

All White Citizens are receiving a bottle of our 2011 Frogtown Sauvignon Blanc, a bottle of the 2011 Frogtown Sauvignon Gris, and a bottle of the 2009 Frogtown Chardonnay.

The 2011 Frogtown Sauvignon Gris contains 15% Sauvignon Blanc grapes (a reverse of what was blended when making the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc described above). If you compared our 2010 Frogtown Sauvignon Gris with the 2011 Frogtown Sauvignon Gris, you will discover how the addition of the Sauvignon Blanc makes the 2011 Sauvignon Gris more elegant, complex, and a less in you face, full bodied white wine. At this time, I would have to see how the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc develops with the addition of the Sauvignon Gris grapes to make a judgment as to whether or not I will continue to blend Sauvignon Gris into our Sauvignon Blanc labeled wines; I am comfortably convinced that I like what the addition of the Sauvignon Blanc does to the 2011 Frogtown Sauvignon Gris wine and will most likely continue blending Sauvignon Blanc into our Sauvignon Gris labeled wines.

The regular retail cost of these wines, without sales tax is $64.97. All White Citizens will receive a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost of these wines to $51.98 before sales tax. The addition of sales tax results in a cost for pick-up of $55.61 and the addition of $12.00 shipping results in a cost of these wines shipped of $65.61.

Please make a concerted effort to take advantage of all that Frogtown offers its Wine Club Citizens through the 2013 Year, including Citizens Only Exclusive Events.

With Best Wishes to all our Citizens, Craig

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