May 2019 Winemaker Notes
Dear Frogtown Citizen:
What is happening in Frogtown’s Vineyards?
The Georgia Dahlonega Plateau vineyard enjoyed a good bud break and fruit set.
The weather has been very good on the Dahlonega Plateau this late spring; demonstrably dryer than usual going into early summer. The vines are soaking up the sun and growing. Frogtown has increased its plantings of Malbec, Chardonnay, Touriga Nacional, Marsanne, and Roussanne by removing most of the Carmenére and a relatively small portion of the Merlot vines.
Cydney and I got away (escaped) twice in late winter and early spring to Spain, the “Frogtown Way” (don’t recommend this to travelers who do not like to drive, drive and drive, with little rest). One day flying to, 3 days in Spain, and one day flying back. Having your own vehicle is essential; not dependent on any form of public transportation and not constrained as to where one can travel. These entourages to Spain’s Rioja, Ribera del Duero (both relatively close to Madrid), and Priorat (relatively close to Barcelona), wine growing regions directly attributed to Frogtown increasing its plantings of Spanish grape varieties at the Adelaida and Geneseo vineyards. Frogtown also planted or increase its plantings of select French grape varieties in California this Spring. The following identifies the plantings this spring in California:
- Carignane (Cariñena) Spanish (Priorat and Rioja) and French (Languedoc-Roussillon)
- and other parts in southern France) red grape that once (not too long ago) was the most planted red grape in France and Spain,
- Mourvèdre (Mataro) French grape (Rhone Valley) red grape,
- Grenacha (Grenache) Spanish (Priorat and Rioja) and French (Rhone Valley) red grape,
- Graciano Spanish (Rioja) red grape,
- Syrah French (Rhone Valley) red grape,
- Tempranillo Spanish (Rioja and Ribera del Duero) red grape,
- Counoise French (Rhone Valley) red grape,
- Cinsault French (Rhone Valley) red grape
These premium red vinifera wine grape varieties enables Frogtown to make:
- French styled GSM blends (Grenache, Mourvedra, Syrah including relatively small additions of Counoise and Cinsault)
- Spanish styled Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and Priorat wines.
Please take a moment and dwell and reflect just what Frogtown has undertaken and what such undertaking means to you, as a Frogtown Citizen.
At the Dahlonega Plateau, AVA, Georgia
Frogtown makes significant red and white wines that are predominately French (Bordeaux, Burgundy, Upper Loire Valley (Sancerre) and South West France (Tannat and Petit Manseng) in Madiran and Jurançon regions), Portuguese (around Porto) and Italian (Tuscany and Piedmont) in origin.
At the Paso Robles AVA’s of Adelaida and Geneseo,
Frogtown will make significant red wines that are French (Rhone Valley) and Spanish (Priorat, Iberia Del Duro, and Rioja in origin).
If my geography is correct, and my knowledge of the various major wine making regions of the world are correct, Frogtown will be delivering to its Citizens an overwhelmingly significant portion of the wine styles grown in the major winemaking regions of the world!!! That is a special achievement that not many American wineries can replicate.
Paso Robles AVA’s, produce a significant amount of French Rhone styled red and white wines, including GSM blends and southern and northern Rhone white wines. To a lesser extent, Paso Robles AVA’s produce Spanish Style wines. With the significant recognition and attention presently given to Priorat wines, and the similarity of growing conditions, I believe more of the Spanish style wines will be made in the Paso Robles AVA’s.
This does not mean Frogtown will abandon its making of Bordeaux styled wines with our California planted Bordeaux varietals. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most planted variety at the Adelaida and Geneseo vineyards. Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Frogtown has planted the other Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Carmenére, and Petit Verdot.
Other Items of Note
We are in the process of permitting Frogtown’s California winery and tasting room to be located at 2045 Spring Street (at the intersection of 21st and Spring Street) in downtown Paso Robles, CA. Frogtown purchased this property consisting of two city lots.
Our Spring Street location is just two blocks north of Paso Market Walk, a mixed-use development now under construction that will deliver residents and seasoned travelers the opportunity to convene, relax, shop, and taste the distinctive flavor of the Central Coast.
Most interesting, Frogtown’s Spring Street location is conditionally zoned for a wine making facility (the whole “works” winery and tasting room). Although the Paso Market Walk is just two blocks south of our Spring Street location, under the current zoning regulations of Paso Robles, no winery can locate at Paso Market Walk. The zoning will, however, enable a winery to locate a tasting room at this development, in the same manner as tasting rooms are located in the traditional downtown area of Paso Robles.
Paso Market Walk is presently under construction. The developers of Paso Market Walk, and Frogtown, are “pioneering” the expansion of the downtown Paso Robles food and wine tasting area beyond the 4 square blocks of what has been traditionally “downtown Paso” (between 12th 13th and 14th – west and east of Spring Street). These efforts will serve as a gateway or introduction to the traditional down town food and wine experience in Paso Robles.
So far this year wine sales are up, and most significantly, food sales have been very strong. Late Saturday tastings till 8:00 pm and our dinner service on Friday and Saturdays have been well received.
Discussion of May 2019 White Wine Club Release
All of our 2018 white and rosé wines were bottled prior to March 15, 2019. These wines included 2018 770, 2018 Marsanne, 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, 2018 Sauvignon Gris, 2018 MRV, 2018 Steel Chardonnay, 2018 Vineaux Blanc, and 2018 Vineaux Rosé.
Over the last 3 years I have modified Frogtown’s white wine protocols, with interesting and most satisfying results. The 2018 vintage wines are the culmination of this effort. None of these wines were stored/aged in oak. Previously, over many vintages, I employed neutral oak barrels as a protocol to soften the texture and, if appropriate, the intensity of flavors of certain characteristics of our white wines. Use of oak for such purposes is effective. However, use of oak has its drawbacks. The placement of wine in oak barrels increases the oxidation of such wine, particularly white wine. There are wine making protocols to reduce the incidence of such oxidation in barrels. Principally, SO2 is introduced into the wine. SO2, while effective, causes additional issues in winemaking. It is not a win, win protocol.
So, perhaps, not putting white wine in neutral oak is beneficial; but what substitute protocol can be employed to soften texture (aid significantly to mouthfeel) and, if required, to reduce the intensity and other characteristics of white wine, like the sensation of acidity, surrounding flavor and tactile sensation of wine.
Our stainless steel protocols were modified to included very frequent lees stirring, increase use of malolactic fermentation, and early bottling. This has afforded Frogtown the ability to continue to deliver excellent mouthfeel, adjust other certain characteristics of white wine, and preserve the fresh aromas and tastes of these wines, with minimum of oxidative effects.
Included in this wine club release is the 2018 Frogtown 770.
In 2018, we additionally tweaked the blending grapes used in this wine by the addition of some Viognier. This addition of Viognier to Chardonnay, Sauvignon Gris, and Petit Manseng, significantly aided “something” to this unique blend, making this blend better, while recognition of the wine as 770 remains.
This wine is just plain, flat out, terrific.
No prior vintage 770 wine can compare to this wine. It is a superstar, delivering distinct experience of an intense beginning, “come together” of the blend in the mid pallet, and a long finish that continues for a significant period of time after the wine is swallowed. I “get” lots of melon, grapefruit, and some honey on the pallet. The aroma is outstanding, hinting at big flavors. Remember 5-7 minutes in the freezer after being stored at room temperature.
Probably the show case of the 2018 Frogtown white wines is Sauvignon Gris; not because it can be identified as the best of the best, but due to the fact that this wine demonstrates what Frogtown has accomplished in modifying its white wine protocols.
Consider the nature of Sauvignon Gris grapes/wine? I have described this wine as Sauvignon Blanc on steroids over the years Frogtown has made this wine. In past vintages, the intensity of our Sauvignon Gris wines was “muted” (softened), appropriately so, by oak and putting the wine through malolactic fermentation (bacteria converts malolactic acid into lactic acid) at the conclusion of alcohol fermentation (yeast converts sugar into alcohol). But Sauvignon Gris is easily oxidized.
The softening of the intensity of Sauvignon Gris wines by frequent lees stirring has improved on the softening of the wine without the oxidation resulting from barrel aging.
The 2018 Frogtown Sauvignon Gris reminds me of a Creamsicle® ice cream. Although I am only familiar with orange creamsicles, the citrus flavors of the 2018 Sauvignon Gris are enveloped in a creamy like tactual mouthfeel which makes these flavors different (better) and distinct than if this phenomenon were not present.
We will be releasing the 2018 Frogtown Sauvignon Gris, as well as the 2018 Frogtown Steel Chardonnay soon!!
All the Best. Remember to introduce your family and friends to Frogtown wines!!!
As always, our very best wisher, Craig and Cydney