Winemaker's Notes


Dear Frogtown Citizen:

2014 Critics Challenge International Results

I have copied the following from the introductory comments by Robert Whitley on the results from the 2014 Critics Challenge:

“There were many other scintillating performances, including a few that will likely surprise.

Count Frogtown Cellars of Lumpkin County, Georgia, in the surprise category. Situated in Western Georgia in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, Frogtown works with a number of grape varieties that are seldom seen outside their indigenous roots, such as Touriga (Portugal), Petit Manseng (France) and Tannat (France). Frogtown won 10 medals from 11 wines entered, including platinum (94 points) for its 2010 Bravado, a blend of Sangiovese, Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Bravado is intense, concentrated and absolutely delicious. Finding a bottle without making a trip to Deliverance country will be the problem”

In addition to the receiving 94 points and a platinum medal, the 2010 Frogtown Bravado also received recognition as a Best in Class Wine.

The 2010 Frogtown Bravado is our third platinum medal winner in a major California competition. The following is a list of the 10 Frogtown medal winners at the 2014 Critics Challenge:

Platinum 2010 Bravado, Georgia, 94 Points Gold 2010 Touché, Georgia, 91 Points
Gold 2010 Touriga, Georgia, 90 Points Gold 2009 Cabernet Franc, Kritzer Family Reserve, Georgia 90 Points
Silver 2010 Tannat, Kritzer Family Reserve, Georgia, 89 Points
Silver 2009 Tannat, Georgia 89 Points
Silver 2012 Petit Manseng, Georgia 89 Points
Silver 2010 Intensity, Georgia 88 Points Silver 2009 Audacity, Georgia 88 Points
Silver 2008 Cabernet Franc, Georgia 88 Points

Cydney and I could not resist sending our All Red and Mixed Red and White Wine Club Citizens each a bottle of the platinum winning 2010 Frogtown Bravado and the gold medal winning 2010 Frogtown Touriga. We would have sent a bottle of the gold medal winning 2010 Frogtown Touché but for the fact that (i) our wine club members have already received a bottle of this wine in the February, 2014 wine club shipment, and (ii) we did not have a sufficient quantity on hand to fulfill the number of bottles necessary to complete this shipment.
At Frogtown our expectation is that every bottle of wine labeled with our flagship Frogtown (frog) label will win a medal in a major California competition. We continue to believe Frogtown is the most awarded winery in America, not located in California, in major blind United State Wine Competitions (most of which are held in California) for premium dry wines.

Just having fun

Joe Roberts of 1 fame and recipient of the Best Wine Blog in both the 2009 Foodbuzz Blog Awards and the 2010 Wine Blog Awards was a judge at the 2014 Critics Challenge International Competition. Joe blogged about the 2010 Frogtown Bravado in 1 as follows:

“And to what wine did Deb Parker Wong (Joe and Deb were paired judges at the competition) and I unanimously award a Platinum medal in the coveted (okay, that’s pushing it) “BLENDED RED SUPER TUSCAN NEW WORLD” category? A Sangiovese-based blend made from grapes grown at high-ish elevations in the storied winemaking province of… Georgia. Yes, that Georgia, Georgia as in the U.S. State of Georgia, the Georgia-On-My-Mind Georgia. This is why we taste them blind, folks. The grapes are grown at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains, and as far as this recipe is concerned, the frog hops really, really well. This is Sangio that actually smells and tastes of Sangio: tart red fruits, earth, dried orange peel, the works. It has Sangiovese’s acidic zing, as well, and a plummy richness and well-integrated woody spiciness. I haven’t fully processed this one yet, and part of my wine brain is still in shock, but this is a producer on whom we ought to be keeping an eye, and one that will no doubt help put the U.S. deep south on the winemaking map.”

After reading Joe Robert’s Frogtown Bravado Blog, and picking up on Robert Whitley’s statement that finding a bottle of the 2010 Bravado without making a trip to Deliverance country will be the problem, I sent Joe the following e-mail:

Hey Joe, just sittin here with me Bride, with our Shotgun (the wine, that is, but it not got no 94 points at that Critic competiision) and lovin on the high fa lutin words that comes from yourin head. Sooeee, I knows we done good with that Bravado usin them Eyetailian grapes, mixed up with them Frog peoples Cabernet and Tannat grapes. Plant them I did cauz me son-in-law is Eyetalian. We use genuline cooper tubin, just like the old man a next to me making Lightin. For the life of me glad you gave me and the misses a plattium as never had the change for a plattium for the misses, she was a wantin something plattium. Hopin you can come a visting soon. Will have the misses make you some fried chikin with all the fixins, black eyed peas, collards, turnip greens, you know, Southern Kweezine to pair with me alkeehaul. While awaiting you a callin on us we sure will hit them books and practicin up on our English and Eyetalian!!!!!!!

Joe’s e-mail back to me was thanks; almost spit my coffee reading that paragraph this morning.


What is happening in Georgia?

We are thrilled to have opened our South Georgia Tasting Room. Located one mile North of Exit 29 on Interstate 75, our Tasting Room is visible from both the north and south lanes of Interstate 75. I know y’all will enjoy seeing our new tasting room and saying Hi to Wendy, our person in charge of our South Georgia operations. Many of our Citizens will recognize Wendy, as she has been a fixture in Dahlonega for a year learning our business and providing hospitality at the winery.

The vineyard. If only Mother Nature would provide Paso Robles with rain we do not need or desire and recognize the Dahlonega Plateau provides Frogtown with more than ample rain in the ordinary course of the growing season. Yes, again this year it has been rainy. It has been difficult. Our vineyard Associates have done an absolutely magnificent job of tending our vines, from bud break, through verasion, and as we are about to begin harvest.

As I write these Notes, prior to today we have had 7 days of rain. It did not rain today. It is easy to be depressed, but that gets Frogtown nowhere. The vineyard is virtually without disease. We hold all of our grapes until each variety achieves the degree of ripeness we require. This means through the rains in the hope of dry weather patterns developing. The white grape are ripe and harvest will begin tomorrow with Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier, followed by Chardonnay, Seyval, Sauvignon Gris, Vidal, Marsanne, and Roussanne. I have decided to primarily ferment our white wines in new oak barrels specifically made for white wine production. We are not making a Steel Chardonnay this year. For those of you who have not tried our 2012 Disclosure Steel Chardonnay, you are in for a treat. Also, we will be releasing our 2012 Disclosure Barrel Fermented Chardonnay with our December 2014 shipment. We kept this wine in new French oak for 18 months. Yummy.

What is happening in California?

Frogtown Adelaida. The first phase of Frogtown Adelaida is planted; consisting of approximately twenty acres and 43,000 grape vines. Phase two will be planted in 2015; this phase is substantially smaller consisting of approximately 3 acres and 7,000 grape vines. As I have informed you in other Winemaker Notes, we planted all 6 Bordeaux varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Carmenere) and Petite Sirah, a grape that Cydney and I first discovered in a shop of an Atlanta wine merchant in 1972. Also, literally at the last moment, I decided to plant a small amount of Touriga Nacional (300 vines), which I plan to co-ferment with the Cabernet Franc (almost 7,000 vines). The largest planting, by a wide margin, is Cabernet Sauvignon with approximately 20,000 vines.

Epoch Winery. A good number of our Wine Club Members have visited our daughter, Jordan, in Paso Robles, California. Jordan is the winemaker at Epoch Estate Wines. Cydney and I recently had the pleasure to tour the recently completed Epoch Winery located at the historic York Mountain winery site in the Paso Robles area. Wow, Bill and Liz Armstrong have created an architecturally and functionally magnificent winery. It is worth the trip to Paso Robles just to get a tour of this winey by Jordan. Cydney and I are very proud that Jordan played a part in the design of this winery. Epoch produces extracted full-bodied wines. These wines, while full-bodied, also have a complexity and elegance only found in exceptionally crafted wines. The Wine Spectator has recognized Epoch’s Estate Blend as the 25th out of 100 Best Wines in the World. Congratulations to Jordan, Bill and Liz.

A second thought about the 2010 Frogtown Red Wines

In our February, 2014 shipment, Frogtown released the 2010 Frogtown Touché, one of the first of the 2010 reds to be released. At the time of the February 2014 shipment no competition results were available for this Touché. In my accompanying Winemakers Notes, I confessed from harvest, to the end of fermentation, to the first 24 months of barrel aging, I had difficulty understanding the 2010 vintage red wines. At a barrel sampling of the 2010 vintage in March of 2013, our Frogtown Citizens were very complimentary about these reds. I was still not sure. When I brought these wines up from barrel to tank for blending and bottling, I became more comfortable with the 2010 reds. The Applause Second Standing Ovation and the Bravado seem to be very good to excellent wines. The 2010 reds have been a pleasant surprise as these wines have put on bottle bouquet and complexity. The Critics results identified above regarding the 2010 vintage of Frogtown Bravado, 94 points, Frogtown Touché, 91 points, and Frogtown Touriga, 90 points are indicative of the quality of Frogtown’s 2010 red wines in the bottle. It does sometimes take me a relatively long time to put wines in the bottle. Once in the bottle, I lose whatever control and influence I have over Frogtown wines, so I tend to be very anal about bottling. The Applause, Second Standing Ovation, in the shipment to the All Red Citizens did not go to competition in 2014. We will send this wine with our 2015 competition entries.

Wines Included in this Wine Club Shipment.

All Red Citizens will receive a bottle of the 2010 Frogtown Bravado ($40.99), a bottle of the 2010 Frogtown Touriga ($37.99), and a bottle of the Frogtown Applause, Second Standing Ovation ($26.99). The 2010 Bravado and the 2010 Touriga are rather full-bodied wines. These wines are very supple displaying a velvet mouth-feel with excellent wood integration (the sensory perception of wood is definitely in the background adding complexity to these wines without making the presence of wood a focal point). The Touriga displays a lovely violet berry nose and deep spicy dark fruit flavors on the palate. It is the nose of our Touriga wines that I find so unusual and compelling. I will leave the description of the 2010 Bravado to Robert Whitley and Joe Roberts as referenced above.

The Applause is a slightly lighter than the 2010 Bravado, Touché, and Touriga. I described the 2010 Frogtown

Touché as follows in my February 2014 Winemaker Notes:

“The 2010 Frogtown Touché has a very supple beginning palate, that develops weight as the wine moves to the back of the palate and finishes with a complex unmistakable well integrated Cabernet Franc dominate Touché wine.”

The description of the 2010 Touché could also be applicable to the Applause SSO, with the notation there is less Cabernet Franc in the Applause SSO and to me the Applause is more elegant and possess more varied dark fruit flavors. I find the Applause SSO a seductive wine that is extremely food friendly.

All Mixed Red and White Citizens are receiving a bottle of our 2010 Frogtown Bravado, the 2010 Frogtown Touriga, and 2012 Frogtown Sauvignon Blanc ($20.99).

The 2012 Frogtown Sauvignon Blanc, as in past vintages, is very Sancerre-like in texture, aroma and fruit.
All White Citizens are receiving a bottle of our 2012 Frogtown Sauvignon Blanc referred to above, a bottle of the 2012 Frogtown Vineaux Blanc ($19.99), and a bottle of the 2012 Frogtown Disclosure Chardonnay ($28.99)

In my February Winemaker Notes, I gave the 2012 Vineaux Blanc the following description: The 2012 Vineaux Blanc is benefited by some experimentation I did at the fermentation of this wine. I decided to co-ferment 2012 Seyval grapes with 2012 Viognier grapes in an 80% to 20% ratio to make a base for our 2012 Vineaux Blanc. I then blended into this 2012 Vineaux Blanc base 100% fermented Seyval and Viognier wines to arrive at the final blend. The 2012 Vineaux Blanc clearly is the best Vineaux Blanc made in the last three years. Very French, this crisp white wine is a wonderful food wine that can be enjoyed with salads, all cheeses, creamy foods like Fettuccini Alfredo and rich, spicy foods. Cydney and I love Vineaux Blanc with shrimp and grits.
The Frogtown 2012 Disclosure Steel Chardonnay is a crisp Chardonnay with loads of citrus flavors. Much more complex than a steel fermented and aged Sauvignon Blanc wine, this Chardonnay is very food friendly with lovely mouth-watering acid.

All of Our Frogtown Citizens have received a 20% reduction in the costs of these shipment wines from the amounts shown.

If you have not visited out new web site –, please do so. This new site has been under construction for a long time and we are very pleased with the result.

I look forward to reporting to you on our 2014 harvest and the 2014 vintage wines after the completion of fermentation in December.

Don’t miss Harvest Day with Craig on September 27, 2014. Harvest Day is a great day for me to be with our Citizens and for Citizens to be with each other.

We love our Citizens!

Best to All, Craig

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