MAY ’18 WINEMAKER NOTES

Dear Frogtown Citizen:

What is occurring in Frogtown’s vineyards

Dahlonega Plateau Vineyard:

This growing season has been distinctive. Frogtown experienced a very wet end of winter, a rather dry bud break, and customary on and off rain days for most of May and the beginning of June. The Dahlonega vineyard is just beautiful. We attacked the early stages of vineyard maintenance with gusto and a determination not to get behind the time frame when certain growing stages should be addressed. Early farming, from bud break to berry cluster touching is critical to keep the vineyard relatively free from pathogens and destructive insects. So far so good. Looking for a relatively bountiful harvest. If we get some cooperation from Mother Nature, the quality of the fruit should be very good to excellent.

Dahlonega had 5 probable frost conditions in March and early April. Pleased to report, we had virtually no frost damage; only being slightly affected during the 5th frost event. The winter weather pattern was cold with very little “Indian Summer” days. This resulted in the buds setting themselves for a bountiful and relatively even bud break. Yes, you read correctly, winter cold (but not too cold) is a good prelude for fruitful buds. Although Frogtown experienced rain during flowering, our fruit set is just fine.

From now, throughout the growing season, shoot positioning and shoot trimming will be front and center, including eliminating (cutting off) clusters of fruit. Only a grape or fruit tree farmer will understand why we eliminate up to 30-40 percent of fruit that would otherwise be harvestable. We do this to make what is left more concentrated, riper, and flavorful. Isn’t that what we look for in fruit!!!!

So, the dog days of summer are upon us in Georgia. Let’s all use our collective will power and will us a dry September and October!

Paso Robles, Adelaida and Geneseo Vineyards:

Hopefully this will be the last year of vineyard development for our two Paso Robles vineyards and the cessation of the costs associated with developmental infrastructure.

Expecting at least 50 harvested tons from Adelaida.

Geneseo was adversely affected by a late frost. Yes, Paso Robles, like Dahlonega, is susceptible to frost events. Probably lost 10 tons of fruit at Geneseo. Still expecting 30-40 tons from Geneseo’s third leaf. The maturity stage of third leaf is customarily the first time for harvesting a vineyard. If you remember, I did harvest 10 tons last year on Geneseo’s second leaf.

Winemaking activities in Dahlonega:

Finishing up some 2014 wines and probably half way through bottling the 2015 red wines. There are approximately 600 cases of 2017 white wines that require bottling. Frogtown Estate wines are now slightly “ahead of the normal curve” regarding release date following bottling date. This means many of our red wines will be benefited with extended ageing in the bottle a few months longer before release.

Winemaking activities in Paso Robles:

We will not bottle any red wines made in California this year. We did bottle and release our first Estate Grown California wine, our 2017 VRM (the Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne blend we call MRV in Dahlonega). Yes, the 2017 Frogtown VRM is distinctively California, beginning with its 16.5% alcohol and a slight bit of residual sugar. I am gratified the yeast strain Frogtown used in California was strong (super strong) and allowed the production of a 16.5% alcohol wine with such a small amount of residual sugar. Yeast “sign their own death warrant” as they consume sugar in the production of alcohol. As the percentage of alcohol raises yeast begin to get sluggish (woozy) and finally die from the alcohol the yeast produced. My guess is the yeast are relatively “happy” as to the end of their life cycle, or don’t know what is happening to them in a high alcohol wine.

Discussion on growing and making Nebbiolo Wine

Without any hesitation, I knew I wanted to make Nebbiolo the focal point of these Notes. In preparation, I recently re-read what Jancis Robinson wrote about Nebbiolo. Jancis Robinson is better known in Europe than the United States. She is without doubt the most respected wine writer and wine critic of our time. I weighed heavily on Jancis Robinson’s writings in making my variety decision in planting our Dahlonega vineyard. I also derive a connection to Jancis, as she, along with Californian, Linda Murphy wrote American Wines, the authoritative book compiling information on the major wineries in each state. Awarding Frogtown a “super star” classification delighted me and Cydney.

The following discussion has been taken liberally from Jancis at JancisRobinson.com. The italicized portions below are my attempt to stress and elaborate on Jancis Robinson’s narrative and to draw parallels to Nebbiolo grapes grown at Frogtown and the Nebbiolo wines made with such grapes.

The heartland for growing Nebbiolo grapes is the north-western part of Italy. The growing and making wine from the Nebbiolo grape is very limited; notwithstanding the Nebbiolo grape is placed in the upper tier of premium wine grapes. Even though Nebbiolo only makes up less than 8% of all the grapes grown in this north-western part of Italy, known as the Piemonte region, this Italian viticulture area grows more Nebbiolo than anywhere else in the world. Stop a moment and think about this statement.

Reflect how rather small is the world’s planting of Nebbiolo and what does the lack of growing Nebbiolo grapes outside of the Piemonte area of Italy mean to the notoriety and availability of Nebbiolo wines.

Many of our Citizens have heard me talk about whether or not a grape vine has legs (distinguished from the wine “legs” clinging to the glass of wine). Legs when used as a descriptor of a grape vine is to identify whether or not (i) the particular grape vine has the ability to be planted in different part of the world and (ii) the wine made from such grape wines can be identified as characteristic of the wines generally made from the specific grape variety.

Nebbiolo is an incredibly fussy variety to grow. It flowers early, ripens late, and can struggle to ripen fully. It also seems to prefer specific hillside locations and clay and silt-based soils.

There is a parallel in soil development when comparing the topography surrounding Frogtown vineyard to the topography surrounding vineyards in the Italian Piemonte. The presents of significant elevation changes and abundant rainfall, produce vineyard soils composed of clay and iron from granitic schist.

Even in its north-westerly region of origin, the Italian Piemonte, Nebbiolo is exceptionally finicky about where it will happily grow and ripen. With only few exceptions, on the Italian Piemonte, Nebbiolo is planted only on south or southwest facing slopes at elevations between 820 and 1500 feet.

Nebbiolo needs particularly careful site selection as it is not only late-ripening but also early flowering, so there is no point in planting it anywhere that might suffer from spring frosts.
Elevations of 800 to 1,500 feet is essential. There is no chance of making good wine from this late-ripening variety if it is not exposed to maximum sunshine. Only south to southwestern facing aspects provide the require degree of sunshine. Nebbiolo needs sufficient warmth to develop the sugars and fruit flavors needed to balance the grape’s naturally high acidity and tannins.

Nebbiolo is one of the first varieties to bud and last variety to ripen with harvest taking place in mid to late October. Nebbiolo is especially adversely affected if wet weather is present during bud break or flowering. While rains during bud break and flowering can affect yield and quantity, rains that occur after veraison will have a detrimental effect on quality. Veraison is the final stage of ripening; when red grapes begin to turn a blueish color, and soften. The most highly rated bottles of Piedmont Nebbiolo tend to come from vintages that had dry weather during September & October.

Growing Nebbiolo requires intensive precision viticulture. The vines are naturally vigorous and need extremely strict de-vigorizing attention in the vineyard if they are not to waste all their energy on sprouting leaves rather than ripening fruit.
Frogtown’s Open-Lyre quadrilateral trellis system (that is the U or V shape you see when looking down a row of vines planted at Frogtown, which forms two vertically trained and separate trellis portions to which support vine shoots and clusters. The Open lyre trellis is very effective in managing the vigor of our Nebbiolo (and our other) vines. Additionally, Most of Frogtown’s Nebbiolo is grown on a small area of the vineyard in very poor (not fertile) granitic sandy mica gneiss and schist soils.

While the foregoing is especially true for Nebbiolo, our experience at Frogtown is the same for a number of our other varietals, i.e. early season rains adversely affect bud break, fruit set and late season rains in September and October cause quality issues.

Frogtown grows its Nebbiolo at approximately 1600 feet on southerly to southwesterly facing slopes.

The scarcity of Nebbiolo cultivation, and the corresponding limited supply of good Nebbiolo wine is the reason why most wine drinkers have never or only limitedly experienced tasting Nebbiolo wines. Even if a person is offered the opportunity to select a premium quality Nebbiolo wine, many would not take advantage of such opportunity. Most famously, Nebbiolo is the grape that goes into Barolo and Barbaresco wines, two of the world’s most revered (and more expensive) wines. If you have ever bought a Barolo or Barbaresco in a wine shop or in a restaurant, you can attest to the expense of good Nebbiolo wines.

What does Nebbiolo, at its best, taste like?

Perhaps the most wonderful thing about Nebbiolo is its perfume. The wine is typically intensely aromatic, developing the most extraordinarily haunting bouquet in which, roses, autumn undergrowth, violets and tar can often be found more extensively than any other wine made from a different red grape variety. On the palate, the wine is typically high in acidity and tannic.

Despite its tannic structure, the wine’s fruity flavors of cherry and raspberries, always seem to shine through. Nebbiolo is known for producing powerful, and mercilessly tannic wines while sometimes looking as pale as Pinot Noir.

Nebbiolo is considered to be a “terroir-expressive” variety. This means that Nebbiolo wines exhibit more of the earth, soil, and climate characteristics of a specific viticulture area versus other wines made from different grapes.

One of the neat “things” about Frogtown’s Nebbiolo is the fact that the aroma, and taste of our Nebbiolo IS reminiscent of the Italian home grown Nebbiolo.

2014 Frogtown Reserve Nebbiolo

Today’s winemaking offers a number of fermentation products and protocols that assist in extracting and stabilizing the wine color and managing tannins. These products and protocols are particularly helpful in making Nebbiolo wines. Nebbiolo grapes lack stable anthocyanins (water-soluble pigments) resulting in many Nebbiolo wines lacking the appearance of rich deep colors. Additionally, the relatively high acidity in Nebbiolo wines makes the management of the high tannin level in Nebbiolo wines critically important.

Since my first year of making wine, I have experimented with ways to stabilize the color of Frogtown wines and create the smooth, pleasurable and supple mouthfeel we all expect in a Frogtown wine. Such winemaking protocols and fermentation aids have greatly assisted in the production of the 2014 Frogtown Reserve Nebbiolo. So, we can say with confidence Frogtown vineyard grows significant Nebbiolo grapes and Frogtown’s winemaking practices aid favorably in the making of Nebbiolo wines.

After spending a considerable time with the 100% varietal version of the 2014 Nebbiolo, I decided to blend a relatively small amount of 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon wine into the final version The Reserve Nebbiolo. The 100% Nebbiolo was lighter and had traces of the brownish-orange meniscus color Nebbiolo can exhibit in the glass. The small percentage turned out to be 10%. I really liked the color affect the Cabernet Sauvignon had on the 2014 Reserve Nebbiolo; it added an additional color element to the stabilize color of our 2014 Nebbiolo wine (after 3 years in barrel). I also liked what the Cabernet Sauvignon added to the mouthfeel of the Nebbiolo.

This release of our fist varietal Nebbiolo spent three years in oak imparting excellent oak integration. The traditional raspberry and cherry flavor of a Nebbiolo wine, and especially the violet aroma of Nebbiolo are very noticeable in this wine. Is this a young wine that will improve with additional bottle age? Yes. No different than most Frogtown red wines on release. It is very enjoyable now, after only 5 months of bottle age. Enjoy a bottle of the 2014 Reserve Nebbiolo now and lay a bottle down for aging. When you open a bottle of this Reserve Nebbiolo, do so at a special time. It is a wine that should be savored rather than just drunk at any time or place.

2017 Frogtown VRM, Geneseo, Paso Robles, AVA, Estate

I did give you some hint of the 2017 Frogtown VRM when I stated above, the 2017 Frogtown VRM is distinctively California, beginning with its 16.5% alcohol and a slight bit of residual sugar. The 2017 growing season in Paso Robles was affected by a number of days when temperatures exceeded 105 degrees F. Like 112-114 degrees. Considerably hot. All over Paso Robles, grapes shriveled on the vine and became very dehydrated. The Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier grapes at Geneseo were not an exception. At harvest, these grapes showed the effect of this weather pattern. The result was a high alcohol wine. But looking beyond the alcohol, the 2017 Frogtown VRM is distinctive in the “somewhat” over the top flavors and heavy character of this wine. To say big, is not big enough. Better described as huge. Huge in flavor, huge in intensity, huge mouthfeel. But additionally, to identify this wine only as “huge” is not a complete description. As large as this wine is in the mouth, it still has a remarkable integration of oak and acidity. The acidity in particular enables this wine to be enjoyed with food. I would suggest a very flavorful grilled fish or a mild creamy cheese. Will Frogtown produce a 16.5% alcohol wine again? Am I proud of this wine? Yes, to both questions. A number of winemakers in Paso have tasted this wine and commented on its distinctiveness and quality. An interesting tasting experience would be tasting a bottle of the 2015 Frogtown MRV at the same time as tasting a bottle of this 2017 Frogtown VRM.

2014 Frogtown Penchant

We are releasing our 2014 Frogtown Penchant. This is the second bottling of a Super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese and Merlot. Penchant was established as a Frogtown red blend in response to requests by Citizens for a red wine that is less full-bodied. My response then and now is Penchant. A red wine that can be characterized as the “lightest” of all Frogtown red blends; closer to a varietal Sangiovese with the added complexity of adding Merlot. I find the 2014 Penchant a little less full-bodied than the 2011; possessing noticeable oak integration and complexity with a relative fruity beginning palate and classic smooth mouthfeel. What is lovely in this wine is the finish. It is long but lighter and more refreshing than any other Frogtown red wine blend. You have light red fruit typical of cherry and some strawberry, close to our varietal Sangiovese with more depth. This wine would be lovely with a filet mignon steak cooked rare to medium rare.

Wines included in the February Wine Club Release

Georgia Estate Wine Club Members

Frogtown released the following white wines from our Dahlonega Plateau vineyard to our White Wine Club Citizens in this May 2018 Shipment: 2015 Frogtown Marsanne, 2015 Frogtown Inclination and 2015 Frogtown Viognier. The Red wines released from the Dahlonega Plateau vineyard to our Red Wine Club Citizens are 2014 Frogtown Reserve Nebbiolo, 2014 Frogtown Penchant, and Frogtown Applause, Third Standing Ovation. Our mixed Red and White Georgia Estate Wine Club Citizens received a bottle of 2015 Marsanne in place of the Applause, TSO.

Extended Wine Club Members

Frogtown released the above indicated Estate Georgia wines, dependent on the Wine Club classification of each Extended Member. Additionally, the California Red wines released to our Extended Cub Members are the 2012 West Coast, East Cost Convergence, the 2014 West Coast, East Coast Convergence, and the 2014 West Coast, East Coast Coax; with the mixed white and red extended Wine Club Members receiving the 2017 Frogtown VRM in place of the 2102 West Coast, East Coast Convergence.
Good health to all, best wishes as always, Cydney and Craig

FEBRUARY ’18 WINEMAKER NOTES

Dear Frogtown Citizen:

Just Saying

If you have not visited Frogtown since the beginning of February 2018, this is your heads-up to visit and experience our expanded food offerings and new table service format for lunches. Our signature panni’s have never been better. We now serve:

  • Home-made potato chips with our panni’s, in contrast with our previously served commercial packaged chips.
  • Expanded offerings of piadini’s (a flat-bread topped with pizza-like condiments and salad. Piadini’s are not made with pizza dough.
  • And, most significantly, now offering individual size pizza served with our signature house salad.
  • We are also offering daily specials. You know like a restaurant!

On April 14, 2018, Frogtown will commence offering Italian Bistro dinners on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings from 5:00 pm to 8:30 pm. This dining experience is in addition to our lunches and Sunday Brunch.

Tastings will only be available at the tasting room bars during usual hours – until 5:00 pm on Fridays and Sundays and 6:00 pm on Saturdays. Our extended hours are solely for dinning.

Our desire is to establish a different dining experience at Frogtown: enjoyment of great food and wine without the hustle and bustle of tasting room activities. We want our Citizens to sit and relax and enjoy their early evenings at Frogtown. Early Spring, Summer and Fall evenings at Frogtown viewing the settling sun overlooking our vineyards, perfect!
Table service especially applies for dinner; a Frogtown Associate will take your orders and check you out at your table. You will be delighted by our selections of Pizza, Calzone, Cannelloni, Lasagna, and other pasta dishes, signature Onion Soup, Charcuterie and Cheeses, various salads, and more.

Our Italian Bistro dinners will be a casual dinner format especially convenient for concluding a day of tasting wine at Frogtown or other surrounding wineries (we always like our Citizens to sample other wines; as one of Frogtown’s slogans is “taste the difference”).

Never a bad idea to reinforce how special Frogtown’s 100% estate-grown wines are in comparison to other wines, whether you are in North Georgia or in Northern California (heard of Napa or Sonoma?) or the Central Coast of California (thumbs up for Paso Robles!).

We have accomplished our expansion of food offerings with fresh proofed pizza dough, fresh made pasta, and house cured meats and other condiments. Cans or jars, what are they? Yeah you know, food the Frogtown Way, always made from scratch and fresh.

You should find it interesting that Cydney and I, last year, attended the National Pizza Convention in Las Vegas, to further our education about what “others” do in preparing and serving pizza. We were amazed and disappointed with the pizza samplings at this Convention. In these days of the emphasizing how quickly, efficiently, and economically food preparation can (but should not) be made, we were astonished to discover the predominance of pre-baked pizza crusts that are relied upon by restaurants in this Country. These crusts are usually frozen pre-baked pizza crusts which are, at best, ordinary and mediocre that do little to enhance the taste and enjoyment of interesting pizza toppings.

If you concentrate on the crust while eating pizza, you will be able to identify these pre-baked frozen pizza crusts; flat, ordinary in appearance, little flavor, and most significantly, the condiments sought of “lay on top” of the crust and do not become a part of, or integrated with, the crust.

Only pizza made with fresh proofed pizza dough can deliver the distinct integration of pizza dough and condiment topping baked together. Most restaurants can and do have interesting condiment toppings but lack the essential fresh proofed pizza dough experience.

I am not talking about your local, usually hole in the wall, pizzerias (these pizza establishments that make pizza the right way focusing on fresh proofed dough and usually make nothing but, or predominately only, pizza or pizza dough food offerings).

The restaurants that I am calling out are usually casual food establishments that serve pizza in addition to a number of other food items.

Citizens simply should not let their family and friends eat pizza made with pre-baked crusts. Yuck!!!

Remember: Mark your Calendars

Where: Frogtown Italian Bistro Dinners, at Dahlonega Winery Estate,

When: 5:00 – 8:30 pm, commencing April 14, 2018, and continuing each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, thereafter.

Reservations are not required but greatly appreciated. Think about celebrating a special event for dinner; we may even be able to make some special food offerings with advanced notice and well-attended special event dinner parties.

Great chef driven, made from scratch, food at a reasonable price, along with a fabulous bottle of Frogtown Estate Wine without restaurant mark-up. Does not get better than that. Bring your family and friends, let them “taste the difference” in our wines and food offerings. Please visit often and do not forget our Sunday Brunch Offerings.

What is occurring in Frogtown’s vineyards?

Dahlonega:

Cydney and I moved from South Florida to Georgia in the winter of 1973, immediately after the great ice storm of that year. Well, OK North Georgia is colder than South Florida, but where is the sun? In fact, I think we did not see the sun at all until April of 1974. Did we think about moving back to South Florida; no, it is better stated: did a day go by during our first Georgia winter that we did not think about moving back to South Florida. Grey skies, cold days, colder nights, lots of rain, welcome to winter in North Georgia!

Stayed, we did. Practiced law and manufactured infants and toddlers clothing, we did. Make wine and operate a hospitality business in North Georgia, we do.

This winter in Dahlonega, though not as severe as the winter of 1973/1974, reminds me of our first winter in North Georgia. It has been a rather cold, grey winter, with lots of rain.

The pundits tell us grape growers cold weather is good for grape vines so long as the low temperatures do not approach single digits for a prolonged period of time. Prolonged single digit cold weather in North Georgia simply does not occur. Prolonged rain in the winter is generally not a problem with the vines, but is a problem with farming. Farming activities on steep slopes in raining conditions does make winter pruning, tractor activity (on slippery slopes), tearing up grass with tractor tires, and compaction of wet soils, a farming nightmare. Like a lot of our farming challenges of growing premium wine grapes on the Dahlonega Plateau, we simply must, out of necessity, confront such winter conditions and make things happen as professionally as possible.

Simply stated, this winter in North Georgia can be described as rainier and colder than what we have experienced in a rather long time.

Paso Robles:

The winter months commenced with virtually no rain and rather warm temperatures, during the day and at night. In the last three-weeks the temperatures have fallen and some rains have occurred; not rain like Georgia, of course, but it is welcome and a blessing that Paso Robles has received some rain. Winter rain in Paso Robles, heavenly for grape vines. More rain is forecasted for the rest of March.

Unlike Georgia, this winter in Paso Robles has been good for farming, but the relatively dry warm winter is not really good for the vines. Warm winter temperatures promote early bud break, which in turn puts the grape vines at risk for frost damage.

Winemaking activities in Dahlonega:

Some differences to what wines I initially thought would be made as reported in the December 2017 Winemakers Notes. In winemaking, as in wine growing, everything is subject to change.

We have bottled the following Frogtown red wines in January and February 2018:

2014 Merger, Second Acquisition,
2014 Citizens Estate Reserve,
2014 Propaganda,
2014 Nebbiolo Family Reserve,
2014 Touriga Family Reserve,
2015 Audacity, and
2015 Sangiovese.

These wines, along with the 2014 Bravado, previously released, the 2014 Penchant, soon to be released, and the 2014 Touché, will be included in Wine Club releases over the next year.

Question: Does Frogtown have a red wine from its 2014 and 2015 vintage that will continue the string of Double Gold Medals in San Francisco received in the prior three years? Will it be four years in a row? Mums the word from me, don’t want to jinx any of these wines.

Winemaking activities in Paso Robles:

We have bottled our first 100% Estate wine from California. A Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier blend from our Geneseo Vineyard. Let’s call this wine MRV Geneseo, for lack of a better name. Yum, big white wine, 16% alcohol with gobs and gobs of Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier well integrated flavors of Pear, Apple, Melon, Hazel Nuts and Almonds; and an intense aroma of flowers on the nose. Made in 100% new French oak coopered especially for white wine; this wine also enjoys a sensation of well integrated oak on the palate, smooth mouthfeel, and a mineral finish. Wow, similar to Frogtown Dahlonega MRV, with its light golden hues, only much more intense. This wine should be released in the May 2018 Shipment to our Extended Mixed Red and White Wine Citizens. Only 55 cases made. There should be some additional cases available for you our Red Wine Club Extended Members. If ever a wine named MRV was a red wine drinker’s white wine, this 100% estate California wine is IT.

By the May 2019 Shipment, the Extended California Wine Club Citizens, Red Wine and Mixed Red and White Wine Citizens should be receiving 100% Estate Grown Wines, Red and White, on a continuing basis, as the California vineyards will be more developed and some of 2017 reds now in barrel should be ready for bottling and release. The California protocols for barrel aging red wines are less (shorter) than the two to three years oak aging for our Georgia wines.

Wines included in the February Wine Club Release:

Frogtown released the following white wines from our Dahlonega Plateau vineyard to our White Wine Club Citizens in this February 2018 Shipment: 2015 Viognier, 2015 Inclination and 2015 MRV. The Red wines released from the Dahlonega Plateau vineyard to our Red Wine Club Citizens are Shotgun 4th Reload, Merger First Acquisition, and 2014 Frogtown Bravado. Our mixed Red and White Wine Club Citizens received a bottle of 2015 Inclination in place of the Shotgun 4th Reload.

I have discussed the 2015 Viognier, 2015 Inclination and 2015 MRV in prior Wine Maker Notes. 2015 was a great vintage for white wines. Above I have provided information on the 2017 MRV from our Geneseo, Paso Robles vineyard. It is very interesting that the characteristics of the 2015 Frogtown MRV and the 2017 Geneseo MRV are very similar; the Paso Robles MRV being more concentrated with higher alcohols. Lovely flower nose, pear, melon, and apple on the palate and a very mineral finish. Shotgun, 4th Reload won a Gold Medal at the Critics Challenge in 2017 and is somewhat a throwback to earlier bottlings of this unique Tannat, Touriga Nacional wine. This wine is always very big and full bodied with a surprising elegant flowery nose. One does not expect this type of aroma on the nose with such a dark fruit full-bodied wine. Shotgun goes very well with fatty meats, and I like this wine with a spicy bowl of beef chili, the acid level of the wine is just right to cleanse the big flavors of the Chili from your palate so you can taste and continue to enjoy the chili flavors again, and again. The 2014 Bravado is just plain delicious and the third time we bottled this Sangiovese/Tannat centric Super Tuscan style wine. Does any winery anywhere bottle such a unique big, bold Super Tuscan? Enjoy!

Craig and Cydney

DECEMBER ’17 WINEMAKER NOTES

Dear Frogtown Citizen:

Just Saying

In this “Just Saying” portion of my Winemaker Notes, a very special, well-deserved shout-out to:

Louisa, Ted, Chris, John, and Natascha – our full-time hospitality Associates who have contributed so much to Frogtown in a relatively short period of time.

Ted and Louisa came to Frogtown with significant experience and knowledge in many phases of today’s wine industry, including as educators and providers of superior service and wonderful hospitality experiences to our customers.  Louisa and Ted are also leading Frogtown’s new face in selling Frogtown made wines to restaurants and wine shops in metropolitan Atlanta and North Georgia.  As this wholesale segment of our business becomes more established, Frogtown will provide a list of restaurants and wine shops where you can purchase our wines.

Chris is Frogtown’s Executive Chef and a significant part in assisting Cydney in Frogtown providing “chef-driven, creative cuisine” to our dinners and events.  Chris will be employing his talents in expanding Frogtown’s food service to creating an Italian Bistro experience at Frogtown in our soon to commence dinners to be offered on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings from 6:00pm to 8:30pm.

Natascha and John are relatively new to the wine business.  John has been providing services at our tasting bar and assisting me in the vineyard.  Natascha will serve as Frogtown’s hostess during the very busy times on Saturdays and is Cydney’s assistant in the weddings and events part of our business.  Natascha is additionally providing assistance to Cydney in administrative functions, particularly assisting you, our Citizens, in Wine Club matters.

On your next visit to Frogtown please get to know Louisa, Ted, Natascha, and John and even more important assist Louisa, Ted, Natasha, and John to get to know you!

2017, A Significant Year in Expanding Frogtown’s Business

A lot has occurred in 2017 establishing Frogtown as an East Coast AND a West Coast Winery, offering estate grown and made wines from significantly different terroirs.

Frogtown Citizens are now able to receive Wine Club releases from our Dahlonega Estate vineyards and wines containing California grown wine grapes.  Soon our California grown segment of our Wine Club Releases shall also be exclusively Estate grown wines from our Adelaida and Geneseo vineyard, to be labeled “Grown, Produced, and Bottled,” as our Estate grown wines from Georgia are labeled.

In 2017, Frogtown commenced California wine making from grapes grown at our Estate Adelaida and Geneseo vineyards.  Frogtown has established what is referred to as an “Alternating Proprietorship” under applicable Federal and State of California law at Alta Colina Winery, a winery estate growing grapes in the Adelaida Sub-AVA of Paso Robles.  Alta Colina, is located at 2825 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles, California and is approximately 1,500 feet “straight as the crow flies” from Frogtown’s Adelaida vineyard.

An Alternating Proprietorship allows Frogtown to make and label California grown Estate wine under the Sub-AVAs of Adelaida and Geneseo in the Paso Robles, AVA.  An Alternating Proprietorship is a written document providing for shared portions and dedicated portions of a Host Winery to two or more wineries.  Alta Colina is the Host Winery and Frogtown is the Alternating Proprietor Winery.

If you are in Paso Robles, California drop by and say Hi to the good folks at Alta Colina and enjoy their extremely well-made Estate grown premium wines.   Frogtown and Alta Colina share many of the same philosophies about the significance of terroir gown and made wines.

Frogtown shall not maintain a tasting room at the Alta Colina Winery.  In the near future, it is our plan to open up either a tasting room or a small winery/tasting room at Frogtown’s Geneseo property located at 4501 Highway 46 East, Paso Robles California 93446.

Upon the opening of a California tasting room, Frogtown will establish a “California based” Wine Club to visitors of this California tasting room; offering Estate grown and made Paso Robles AVA wines from our Adelaida Sub-AVA and our Geneseo Sub-AVA Estate vineyards AND, and assisting our California Wine Club Citizens in obtaining Wine Club Releases of our Estate wines grown at our Dahlonega Plateau AVA vineyard made at our Dahlonega, Georgia winery.

The opening of a California tasting room is the final segment of Cydney’s and my vision of winegrowing and winemaking in two entirely different and premiere vinicultural areas located on the separate coasts of the United States.  Unique to the wine industry, our Georgia and California Citizens will be able to purchase and enjoy Frogtown wines grown and made from Estate grown grapes in Georgia and California.

Dahlonega Vineyard Update

In 2014 and in the immediate preceding years, white wine grape production at Frogtown was trending lower.

White wine grape production in 2015 increased over 2013 and 2014 production; but one year does not reverse a “trend”.

I look back at the white wine vintage 2015 with great fondness:  more than adequate in quantity and wonderful in quality.  Some of our best white wines Frogtown produced came from the 2015 harvest; the Chardonnay, Roussanne, MRV, and Sauvignon Blanc made from 2015 grapes are testaments to the quality of this white wine vintage.

In 2015, acting upon reduced white grape vine production, I remove some red wine grape vines and replanted, in the place of such removed vines, over 5 acres of Chardonnay, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, and Marsanne grape vines.  I had no reason to suspect at the beginning of the 2015 vintage, that Mother Nature was about to cause a severe drought at our Dahlonega vineyard commencing in late July of 2015 and continuing into the early winter months.  This drought did not harm vines which were planted before 2015, but severely adversely affected the white wine grape vines planted in 2015.  We experienced at 70% loss of these newly planted vines.

In 2016, Frogtown replanted the vines that were lost in 2015.  These new plantings of white wine grape vines will produce white wine grapes for the 2018 vintage, a year later than planned.

The 2016, and 2017 vintages reverted to the negative production trend Frogtown experienced prior to the 2015 vintage.

Reduced harvest of white wine grapes in 2016 and 2017 will result in diminished white wine choices our Citizens will have available to them in 2018.  A few of the white wines Frogtown has produced over the years will not be available.

Paso Robles Vineyards.  Frogtown continued to experience adequate development of its Adelaida and Geneseo vineyards. In addition to selling grapes from our Adelaida vineyard, Frogtown harvested over 10 tons of grapes for its own wine production in 2017 principally from the Geneseo vineyard.

Expect Some Interesting Red Wines from the 2014 Vintage at Dahlonega.

The remaining red wine barrels from the 2014 vintage are being processed (blended and bottled) as I write these Notes into some interesting red wine offerings. Within the next six months the following wines will available for release to our Citizens:

  • Norton (“reserve” quality?)
  • first ever Nebbiolo varietal bottling
  • first ever Teroldego varietal bottling
  • our second ever Touriga varietal bottling
  • 2014 version of Propaganda
  • 2014 version of Merger
  • Only our second Citizen’s Estate Wine

When added to the 2014 Touché, 2014 Bravado, 2014 Penchant, Shotgun, Fourth Reload and Applause, Third Standing Ovation (both containing substantial amounts of 2014 vintage wine) bottled earlier this year, the 2014 red wine vintage, in number of cases will be approximately the same as the 2013 red vintage wines.

At this time, I would expect the only 2014 red wine to be labeled as a reserve wine will be the 2014 Citizens Estate and that wine will be labeled as a varietal Cabernet Sauvignon containing principally Cabernet Sauvignon, harvested by Citizens on the 2014 harvest day with Craig, and some Malbec.  I am very impressed with the quality of the 2014 Norton, a non-vinifera wine.  At this time, I am not prepared to say that the 2014 Norton will be a reserve labeled wine.  If we do put a reserve designation on the 2014 Norton, it will be the first non-vinifera wine ever produced with a reserve designation.  The genus vinifera is the scientific name for the world’s most recognized wine grape varieties (all but 4 of the 23 separate varieties planted at Frogtown are vinifera vines).

In comparing the quality of the 2014 vintage to the 2013 vintage, don’t be misled by the fact that the 2013 vintage comprised three red wines labeled as reserve.

Since 2004, our first Reserve labeled wine, with the sole exception of the 2011 Citizens Estate Reserve, all of the Frogtown Reserve labeled wines have been varietal labeled vinifera wines (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Tannat, Sangiovese, and Petit Verdot).   Many of such varietal labeled wines containing 100% of the variety referenced on the label.  Why is this so?

Frogtown is not in the business of making reserve varietal wines at the expense of the quality of its proprietary red blends in any vintage.  There is no such “thing” as a Reserve Propaganda, Reserve Touché, or a Reserve Bravado, for example.  Every vintage has its own unique character and possibilities which are revealed and confirmed when the vintage wines are ready to be bottled.

Simply, the possibilities were present in 2013 for allocating reserve quality grapes to Reserve varietal labeled wines without affecting the quality of the 2013 proprietary label wines produced.  The same possibilities did not exist in the 2014 vintage.

I am confident our Citizens will be excited about this 2014 vintage in terms of both quality and uniqueness achieved.

Wines included in the December Wine Club Release.

Frogtown released the following white wines from our Dahlonega Plateau vineyard: 2015 Frogtown Vineaux Blanc, 2015 Frogtown Marsanne and 2015 Frogtown 770.      The Red wines released from the Dahlonega Plateau vineyard were 2011 Frogtown Propaganda, 2013 Frogtown Propaganda and 2013 Frogtown Touché.

I hope our Citizens are as happy to receive a vertical bottling of Propaganda as Cydney and I am to be able to send this form of Wine Club Release.  This vertical bottling release follows the vertical bottling release of the 2011 and 2014 bottlings of Bravado.  These vertical Wine Club releases are special; principally resulting from the fact Frogtown made more than 550 cases of the 2011 Propaganda and 475 cases of the 2011 Bravado.  2011 shall forever be remembered for (i) the quality of the wines, including 2 Double Gold Medals awarded to 2011 vintage wines in San Francisco and (ii) the number of cases of Propaganda, Bravado, Audacity, Penchant, Merger and Touché proprietary bottlings in 2011.  Also, noteworthy is the fact that the only reserve labeled wine made from the 2011 harvest was the magnificent 2011 Citizens Estate Reserve.  Please keep this point in mind and re-read the discussion above on the comparison of 2014 vintage verses the 2013 vintage red wines.  So, one of the best vintages ever at Frogtown had only one Reserve labeled wine; such wine being a Citizens Estate Reserve, the only bottling I undertake with the expectation of a resulting reserve wine.

The California Extension wines released were the 2012 Frogtown Compulsion, 2012 Frogtown Convergence, and the 2014 Frogtown Coax.  Pronounced like the word “coax” when used to refer to a product being skillfully and gently enticed, lured, persuaded and cajoled into something, yes, something like a bottle of wine!

In 2014, I purchased some Merlot and Petite Sirah grapes from the Dry Creek AVA in Sonoma County, California.  This was and is the last time Frogtown will purchase wine grapes from California from another grower, as Frogtown commenced growing estate wine grapes at its Adelaida vineyard in 2014.

I have always enjoyed well-made Petite Sirah wine.  There are many Petite Sirah wines that are “over the top” and present too much of this very spicy grape into what can be classified as a California fruit bomb.

In my view, Petite Sirah is a bigger, spicier Syrah grape.  Perhaps that is how the grape Durif became to be called “Petite Sirah” in the U. S.

I learned a lot about Petite Sirah in 2014.  Both Petite Sirah and Syrah have a common historical perspective by moving from a disregarded vinifera wine grape, when speaking of premium wines, to acceptance and even exaltation.  The word exalt is a powerful word meaning to elevate, raise in rank, power, and praise, and even to glorify.

Petite Sirah is indeed powerful and can deliver extremely lovely wines when made into a varietal labeled wine or blended with other compatible wine grapes.  In a blend, the Petite Sirah can be an overwhelming blending partner.  If that is what is intended, like the 2014 Coax, then all is well.  However, if a winemaker is intending to add some depth and character to a varietal labeled Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, etc., Petite Sirah is not the correct or preferred blending partner.  Petite Sirah is just to bold and too distinctive in character.  Syrah, or a number of other grapes would do the job much better without the tendency to “take over” the blend.  Do the grape varieties like Tannat, Touriga Nacional, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Carmenére come to your mind as a Frogtown Citizen?

The 2016 Coax is a very, very good intense example of a blend containing a significant amount of Petite Sirah with Merlot as its major blending partner.

2014 Coax has been well received by those Citizens I have spoken to at the Winery.

I am looking forward to transitioning from California grapes, grown by other farmers, blended in our very successful East Coast, West Coast wine offerings to 100% estate grown, produced, and bottled California wines from our Adelaida and Geneseo California vineyards.

Wishing all our Citizens a healthy and prosperous New Year,

Craig and Cydney

MAY ’16 WINEMAKER NOTES

Craig Kritzer, Winemaker

Dear Frogtown Citizen:

Sad

For those of our Citizens who have not heard, Nettie has passed away. I think about Nettie today the same as I have since the first time Cydney and I met Nettie when she was a real estate broker; years before Nettie spent hours and hours at Frogtown. Nettie was a gracious Southern lady with a very pleasant reserved “Mona Lisa type smile”, an unending desire to please, and a dedicated friend.

Nettie’s domain was primarily Helen. With Nettie’s passing a void has been created at Frogtown resulting in Cydney and I deciding to close the Helen Tasting Room.

Just Saying

Interesting, I am asked the same question in Dahlonega and Paso Robles. Are you moving to California? I wish I had a clever response. I have tried to think of one. It is a serious and valid question, whether asked in Georgia or California. No, no, and no. To me, such response is definitive, unambiguous, truthful, and clear. I am sure, however, there is someone thinking: “By NO do you mean …………………….”
Frogtown Dahlonega Plateau Vineyard.

Since the February Winemaker Notes the weather patterns at Frogtown Dahlonega should be describes as:

-Rather non-descript winter.

-Severe Frost at the end of March that, but for the dew point staying at least two points below the ambient temperature, could have been devastating. Parts of the vineyard did get down to 28 Degrees. Not knowing Frogtown would beneficially experience the unusual low dew points through the early morning hours, we prepared as if it were a do or die situation, including flying two helicopters and establishing and maintaining probably the most fires ever throughout the evening and into daybreak. Costly? You bet, but what else is new.

– A pleasant, relatively dry spring. Thank you. Thank you. Who (is) (are) you?

OK, Just what is going on in California?

Frogtown’s first vineyard is in the Adelaida Sub-AVA region of the Paso Robles American Viticulture Area (that is why we call this vineyard Frogtown Adelaida) is doing very nicely. The major event has been vine training. I won’t bore you with the technicalities of vine training (did I hear a sigh of relief?), but it is going well. Frogtown will have some fruit this year, Frogtown Adelaide’s third leaf (the term describing the period after the second anniversary of planting when the vineyard’s first harvest usually occurs). In 2014 we planted 30,000 of the 49,500 vines planted at Frogtown Adelaida. What should be done with this third leaf fruit? One of the first questions asked by a potential customer is how much fruit do you have by variety planted? Problem, almost impossible to estimate with any certainty how much fruit will be harvested on third leaf. So, should we sell all the fruit; sell part of the fruit and make Frogtown Adelaida wine with the remaining fruit? I haven’t decided. Stay tuned.

Frogtown’s second vineyard is in the Estrella Sub-AVA region of the Paso Robles AVA. You guess correctly. We call this second vineyard Frogtown Estrella. Wow, turn the clock back to 1999 when Cydney and I planted the first 10,000 vines at Frogtown Dahlonega Plateau. I used a vineyard development company to direct the development of Frogtown Adelaida. I did, of course, make all the planting decisions, but did not direct the installation of the infrastructure; as such, I could have been characterized as an absentee owner at Frogtown’s Adelaida plantings. Not my usual MO.

I decided to be active in directing all the elements of the redevelopment and replanting of Frogtown Estrella. Such plantings should amount to about 13.5 acres totaling more than 30,000 vines. My active involvement is like turning the clock and calendar back to 1999 in Georgia at the Dahlonega vineyard. Good to be in the saddle again, although not as much physical assistance from me this time out. It has been seventeen years since we commenced the Dahlonega planting. Really?
So active is active. I have spent three months in California since January first of this year. It got real OLD staying in a hotel. Also to be fair to my daughter Jordan and her family, I did not want to be a full-time boarder at her house. So how about a residence at Adelaida? Due to the steep inclines and road access to Frogtown Adelaida, permitting a house at this vineyard would be extremely challenging and could take up to two years. This is California, folks. Buy “something” away from the vineyard in Paso Robles? Nah, falling out of bed in the vineyard is too special! So, what to do? I took a page out of our move from Buckhead to Dahlonega. Seventeen years ago, I moved Cydney (aka, “Buckhead Betty”) from, well a big house, to a doublewide trailer (oops, not politically correct, sorry, a manufactured home) at the Frogtown Dahlonega vineyard. OK so we did it before and we can do it again. Put a double wide at Adelaida? Not so fast, as a double wide is a permanent establishment of a residence subject to most of the permits required in San Luis Obispo County, to a custom home. Consequently, doublewide was out of the question; then, how about a RV (trailer?). No permit required; not a permanent establishment under California rules.

Cydney has not seen the RV “in place” at Frogtown Adelaida. How is living in the RV? Next.

I am anxious to get back to Dahlonega; yes, yes, and yes, meaning real anxious. This time out it has exceeded a month away. I am blessed with good folks at Frogtown Dahlonega, allowing me to be absent for so long.

A Citizen took the time to inform me that at Mother’s Day brunch, Cydney said she is “getting used to me being away”. Ouch! Wonder if Cydney can make wine? Stay tuned!!!

Discussing Frogtown’s vintage 2013 red wines

Frogtown 2013 vintage reds have exceeded my expectations. Not as much as the 2010 Vintage after these wines were bottled, but I am delighted with the 2013 vintage. I expected 2011 to be an exceptional vintage. To have such a good vintage (2013) following the 2011 vintage is SPECIAL.

2013 is the first vintage with three; yes 3, Reserve Wines. In this shipment you will receive the first of such Reserve Wines, the 2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, a 100% Cabernet bottling. Cydney, Jordan, and Justin made the collective decision which of the three Reserve Wines to send in this shipment. The vote was unanimous that the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon was the most developed in the bottle; so our Citizens will have to wait to the next shipment to receive either the 2013 Reserve Petit Verdot or the 2013 Reserve Tannat. It has been more than 3 months since I tasted these Reserve wines. Each of the Reserves are big, really big wines with supple tannins (remember round not angular, which is a Frogtown red wine characteristic).
The Shotgun, Fourth Reload and the Applause, Third Standing Ovation, are composed of a significant amount of 2013 vintages wines.

After I get home and taste these wines, I will compose tasting notes on these Reserve Wines.

What is in this Shipment?

Citizens receiving three bottles of red wines will receive a bottle of 2013 Kritzer Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($48.99), a bottle of Frogtown Applause Third Standing Ovation ($29.99), and a bottle of Shotgun Fourth Reload ($29.99).

Citizens receiving these red wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost for pick-up to $93.28, which includes sales tax, and the addition of $12.84 shipping results in a cost for these wines shipped of $106.12.

Citizens receiving two bottles of Red wine and one bottle of White wine are receiving a bottle 2013 Kritzer Family Reserve

Cabernet Sauvignon ($48.99), a bottle of Frogtown Applause Third Standing Ovation ($29.99), and a bottle of 2014 Frogtown White Rosé ($18.99)

Citizens receiving these red and white wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost for pick-up to $83.87, which includes sales tax, and the addition of $12.84 shipping results in a cost for these wines shipped of $96.71.

Citizens receiving three bottles of white wines are receiving a bottle of the 2014 Frogtown Marsanne ($30.99), a bottle of the 2014 Frogtown Inclination ($27.99), and a bottle of the 2014 Frogtown White Rosé ($18.99).

Citizens receiving these three white wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost of these wines to $66.74, which includes sales tax, and the addition of $12.84 shipping results in a cost of these wines shipped of $79.58.

Wishing you all a fabulous summer, where the grapes grow and the wines flow.

Cali Craig (Cydney’s idea)

FEBRUARY ’16 WINEMAKER NOTES

Dear Frogtown Citizen:

Just Saying
I started these Notes on January 21, 2016, on my return flight to Dahlonega after ten days working at our California vineyards. I think it is appropriate to send Paso Robles (maybe the State of California) an invoice for services rendered. Four of the ten days I was in Paso Robles, it rained. Yes rain in Paso Robles! What a strange occurrence. I have done a lot of things, but a rainmaker? Why not? I HAD to be the protagonist. Those who control rain know a Georgia grape farmer NEEDS rain at the vineyard to perform. Here’s the thing. Fair is fair. If you do not bill you can’t get paid. If I only knew where to send the invoice, I am sure our friends in California would agree to the fairness in paying!!!

The Vineyard
Frogtown commenced winter pruning in early January 2016. It simply was too warm to prune in December 2015. If Frogtown had commenced pruning in a very warm December, there would have been a substantial risk of stimulating bud swell, or even worse, bud break. Ah, January’s temperatures were just what the vines needed: cold temperatures, but not too cold.

Sensing Completion is Approaching
Our building projects at Frogtown are getting completed. We are starting to build the cabinets and wine storage system in the Wine Library, Citizens Tasting Room, and Private Dinning facility. The heated and cooled tasting facility at the patio is completely dried in and also ready for fixtures.

White Wine Making at Frogtown
In the beginning of our winemaking activities at Frogtown, I thought our white wine production was much closer to the quality of wine I wanted to make than our reds wine. Over the ensuing years, our white winemaking progressed, but not to the extent of our red winemaking.

After the bottling of the 2013 vintage white wines, I came to the conclusion Frogtown’s white wines required special attention. I decided to:

– Return to some winemaking protocols I used in the earlier years of white winemaking that I either ceased using or modified. Fining of the pressed juice is the first change I decided upon. I progressively got “caught up” in not fining our white wines. Fining is simply the introduction of an agent into the juice or wine to attract undesirable elements in the white wine that are then removed from the wine by racking (moving the wine off of the settled finings). Fining is an evasive wine making protocol. Less invasive winemaking had to be better, right? Well no. I did not fine any of our 2011, 2012, and 2013 vintage whites. This resulted in some benefits but also resulted in negatives. The unfined white wines from these vintages were “aging” faster than our earlier vintage white wines that were fined. Also, at bottling, the wines had more “color” and the color became more pronounced as the wine aged. Why? There are “browning” elements in the musts (juice) of pressed white wine grapes. Prior to 2011, I fined many of these browning elements out of the white wine musts in the earliest stages of white winemaking. I decided to go back to fining the white wine juice immediately after pressing the grapes.

– Unfortunately when wine is fined, it is impossible to target just the “bad” elements one wants to eliminate. Good elements contained in the white wine additionally are attracted by the fining agents and are removed. To counteract this result, I decided to use more new French oak in the fermentation and storage of our white wines. Fined juice is much more resistant to oxidation than unfined juice. Fermentation and storage of white wines in oak barrels is less anaerobic than in steel tanks. Due to the return of fining white wine juice, the fact that oak barrels are less anaerobic did not materially concern me.

– Our white winemaking has always been accomplished in a fairly less anaerobic environment than what is the norm in white winemaking. Frogtown also tends to use less sulfur early in our white winemaking; again, then what is usually the custom of other winemakers. Less anaerobic white winemaking and less sulfuring have the benefit of intensifying the aroma, structure, and finish of white wines. Lovely aromas and a discernable beginning, middle, and long lasting finish are achieved as such wines are aged and finally bottled. I strive to achieve wonderful mouthfeel and structure in Frogtown’s white and red wines. In my opinion, the opposite of these characteristics of great mouthfeel and structure is the result when white wine is made in a significantly anaerobic environment and with the addition of more sulfur. Such white winemaking results in a rather nondescript, thin wine that, in fact, may lack color and surely intensity and charm.

– The availability of a new generation of French coopered barrels specifically intended for white winemaking has greatly assisted the use of wood barrels in lieu of stainless steel. These barrels use traditional oak wood and less traditional acacia wood. The following is a very good discussion of the use of acacia wood barrels that appeared in the March, 2010 edition of “Wines and Vines”:

Though oak is almost synonymous with wine barrels, a small number of California wineries are now experimenting with aging their wines using another wood. The barrels are made from what’s popularly called acacia wood, actually the Robinia pseudoacacia or black locust tree, a native of the eastern U.S. now widespread in central and southeast Europe. The wood is dense, tight-grained and tough, and it makes excellent barrels. Winemakers who tried it largely enjoyed its impact on white wines, especially its lack of “oakiness.” Though rarely used for barrel making in the U.S., acacia wood has been used in France and Spain for many years to add a different taste profile to white wines, and in the aging of the sweet wines of Bordeaux. The acacia wood used for barrels … grows in the same French forests where the French harvest oak trees for barrels. According to Norm Leighty of Oakasions (an importer of barrels, including Acacia, in California), acacia wood adds floral characteristics to white wines, with added structural mouthfeel. “There’s no oak flavors; it’s just the fruit with a floral nose and great mouthfeel.” Barrels are more lightly toasted than oak barrels. Copyright © Wines & Vines

Acacia barrels: (i) add structure and improve mouthfeel, (ii) intensify flavors, and (iii) impart many of the benefits of fermenting and aging of wine in barrels without imparting oaky flavors to a white wine.

Yes, acacia wine barrels appealed to me at a time I was open to employing modified protocols for our white wines.

For our 2014 white wine production, I purchased French barrels that were made from (i) very lightly toasted oak barrels specifically coopered for white wines and (ii) very lightly toasted barrels made by alternating each stave with oak and acacia (50% oak and 50% acacia). For our 2015 white wine production, I purchase a number of 100% French acacia barrels.

Discussing Frogtown’s vintage 2014 white wines
2014 was not a big production vintage for Frogtown white wines. Yes, 2014 was the first year since 2011 that we did not sell all of our Chardonnay grapes to Wolf Mountain, but an early frost (which proportionally adversely affects white grapes to a greater extent than red grapes) and other white wine grape sales resulted in a relatively “small” white wine vintage for Frogtown. That was just fine with me; better to experiment with the modifications I decided upon in a relatively light-year. I had a feeling that 2015 would be a much larger white wine harvest; and it in fact such was the case.

In 2014 Frogtown also had quantities of Sauvignon Gris and Petit Manseng grapes that were not available when the flavor profiles of some of the white wine blends were originally established in the earlier years.
In 2014 Frogtown made: a varietal Marsanne, Inclination, Vineaux Blanc and our new white wine blend, 770. In the 2014 vintage of Inclination and Vineaux Blanc, I added varying amounts of Sauvignon Gris. In the new white blend, 770, I blended Petit Manseng with Sauvignon Gris and Chardonnay.

The result of blending Sauvignon Gris into the 2014 Inclination and Vineaux Blanc, along with the modification of our protocols discussed above, in my opinion, resulted in two of the best Inclination and Vineaux Blanc wines ever made. Such additions of Sauvignon Gris have demonstrably elevated the overall quality of these wines.

There is a reason why Cabernet Sauvignon is the King of grapes and Chardonnay is the Queen of grapes. No other varieties of red or white wines produce the qualities of great varietal wines and the qualities of making other wines better as blending elements in such wines. The addition of Sauvignon Gris to the flavor profile of Petit Manseng was interesting and promising. The addition of Chardonnay to the blend fulfilled just what I was looking for in a wine labeled 770. It is sooooo gooood to have Chardonnay back in the winery. Immediately as I added Chardonnay to the Petit Manseng/Sauvignon Gris blend, the wine became better and better. Most significantly, those who have experienced the 2014 Frogtown 770 have voiced very appealing comments. 2014 770 is our first vintage of this new white wine blend. This wine will progress as we make this wine in subsequent years.

2014 white wine tasting notes:
It is important for me to deliver the following information (actually I prefer the word “message” to “information”) as I am about to give you my sensory impressions of 2014 vintage Frogtown white wines.
Message One: To fully enjoy premium white wines it is imperative to drink such wines at a temperature no lower than 55 Degrees Fahrenheit. Yes, seriously. You want white wines to volatize in your mouth not to chill you and your mouth down like a cold beer. You will miss the full sensation (and appreciation) of premium white wine if the wine is tasted too cold.

Message Two:
I do not make wine with the intent for a wine to have a certain flavor. I do; however, blend wines made from different grapes, which I am aware have certain flavor characters that I do anticipate will be imparted into the wine made from such grapes. I am, most concerned with, and do intend, that all Frogtown wines have what I would describe as a balanced mouthfeel. By balanced mouthfeel I mean a wine that is smooth and supple on the palate, never harsh, or bitter, nor overly tannic and never dull or flabby. Only a wine possessing a premium balanced mouthfeel can “set the proper stage” for the wine drinker to fully enjoy what should be intriguing aromas and flavors. Only a wine possessing a balanced mouthfeel can improve the food experience when paired with appropriate foods.

Putting Message One and Two Together:
Is there something wrong with you if you do not sense the same or similar aromas and flavors that I describe in the tasting notes below? No, no, and no. We are all individuals having different DNA’s, abilities, and experiences. Our production of saliva is not the same. Our abilities to sense and taste also varies from time to time based on how we feel, what we have eaten and drunk before we taste a wine. So if you sense slightly different or very different aromas and flavors or cannot honestly recognize and verbalize what aromas and flavors you smell or taste, it really does not matter and is not a reflection on your ability to enjoy wine.

2014 Frogtown 770:
At this stage of 770’s bottle development, I would suggest you experience the aromas of this wine first when it is poured into glass and additionally after you aerate the wine and wait to smell this wine three to five minutes later. Initially there are intense aromas of grapefruit and lime. After waiting the suggested period of time the intense aromas of grapefruit and lime mellow and are joined by recognizable pineapple aroma. Upon tasting the wine, tropical fruit flavors continue on the palate as the wine moves through your mouth. You should also recognize the presence of honeysuckle flavors that further add to the sense of body, suppleness and texture to the mouthfeel of this wine. The wine finishes with a long dominate presence of lime and grapefruit and minerality. This is a full-bodied white wine.

2014 Frogtown Inclination:
Dominant Chardonnay and Viognier aromas of melon, pear, apple, peach, and to a lesser extent, very ripe citrus are experienced when smelling the aroma of this wine in the glass. On the palate the flavors of melon, pear, apple, peach, and citrus are joined by the presence of well-integrated oak flavors of toast and coconut. These oak flavors occur as a result of blending Chardonnay fermented in new French oak barrels and allowing the Chardonnay wine to go through malolactic fermentation. The flavors of this wine are consistent as the wine moves through your mouth. These flavors are rather intense as the wine is swallowed, but diminish as the long, lasting finish gradually ends. The blending of Sauvignon Gris and Vidal in this wine brings a lively acid-citrus character to this wine that definitely contributes to the wonderful balance of this wine and pairing of this wine with food. I cannot recall ever making a better Inclination. This 2014 Inclination IS a great wine!

2014 Frogtown Vineaux Blanc:
The aromas of this wine are overwhelmingly citrus with some ripe apple. On the palate, this wine is less full-bodied and its aromas and flavors are less intense than the 2014 770 and the 2014 Inclination. Adding to the light easy drinking mouthfeel of this wine is the use of neutral oak barrels (more than 4 years old) in the fermentation and aging of a portion of the Seyval wine blended into this wine. I cannot sense any oak flavor nuances on the palate or on the nose of this wine as a result of its oak experience. I also ferment and age a portion of the Seyval used in this wine in stainless steel tanks and barrels. The stainless steel experience adds a crisp acid character to this wine without negatively impacting the wine’s mouthfeel. It is the light body and crisp acidity of this wine that makes Vineaux Blanc the best Frogtown white wine for pairing with food. The acid in this wine will have a much-needed palate cleansing affect on creamy sauces such as a Fettuccine Alfredo pasta dish.

2014 Frogtown Marsanne:
This 2014 Marsanne is a worthily successor to the 2009 Frogtown Marsanne, a triple gold medal-winning wine in California and a wine of which I am most proud. Marsanne’s flavor profile is apple, pear, flowers, and most significantly, as the wine ages, unmistakable hazelnut and almonds. The 2014 Frogtown Marsanne has developed in the bottle lovely flower and nutty (almond and hazelnut) bouquet. On the palate the nutty character of the wine adds distinctive enhancement to the pear and apple flavors. A Frogtown Marsanne has the presence of sufficient acid to lend the required balance to the wine and aid in reducing (thankfully not removing) a very full-bodied somewhat “oily” character that is present in Marsanne wines. Typical of Frogtown Marsanne wines and Roussanne wines, there is present a discernable minerality that is most pronounced in the long finish of these wines. This 2014 Frogtown Marsanne is a great example of the benefits derived from the use of the new French barrels discussed above. All of this Marsanne was fermented and stored either in lightly toasted French oak or the lightly toasted French oak and acacia barrels. Less than 100 cases made and, of course, will only be available to our wine club Citizens.

Finally, 2011 Frogtown Penchant
The last of our 2011 red wines that spent three years in oak and the third of our Super Tuscan triplets. We may have created Super Tuscan Triplets, but the wines are definitely not even close to being identical.
2011 Frogtown Penchant is most definitely a medium bodied red wine. The distinct cherry aroma and flavors indicate a Super Tuscan that is more similar to a varietal Sangiovese than any of its Frogtown siblings. The blend contains 43% Sangiovese, 36% Merlot, and 21% Touriga. Penchant possesses bright cherry aroma and flavor. The blending of Touriga into this wine had the effect of toning down the “brightness” of the cherry flavors with some darker red fruit aroma and flavor. Also, the addition of Touriga in Penchant made the wine more complex. This wine’s medium body and dominant cherry flavors make the wine easy to drink and a home run wine to pair with Italian veal, chicken, sausage dishes made with tomato sauce and hardy pasta dishes containing such meats. Mission accomplished.

With this release of the 2011 Frogtown Penchant, I characterize our three Super Tuscan wines as follows:

-Audacity – a very traditional style of a Super Tuscan wine, both Italian made or made domestically.

-Bravado – Frogtown’s unique Super Tuscan styled wine that is very bold and full-bodied. Bravado has a noticeable Sangiovese character made significantly bolder by the addition of a substantial amount of Tannat.

-Penchant –the 2011 Penchant is a more complex and elegant wine than our Sangiovese varietal wine but not as bold or complex as Audacity and Bravado.

Wines included in this Shipment
Citizens receiving three bottles of red wines will receive a bottle of 2011 Frogtown Audacity ($33.99), a bottle of
2011 Frogtown Bravado ($41.99), and a bottle of 2011 Frogtown Penchant ($33.99).

Citizens receiving these red wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost for pick-up to $94.13, which includes sales tax, and the addition of $12.84 shipping results in a cost for these wines shipped of $108.97.

Citizens receiving two bottles of Red wine and one bottle of White wine are receiving a bottle of 2011 Frogtown Penchant ($33.99), a bottle of 2011 Frogtown Bravado ($41.99), and a bottle of 2014 Frogtown Marsanne ($30.99).
Citizens receiving these red and white wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost for pick-up to $91.56, which includes sales tax, and the addition of $12.84 shipping results in a cost for these wines shipped of $104.40.

Citizens receiving three bottles of white wines are receiving a bottle of the 2014 Frogtown Marsanne ($30.99), a bottle of the 2014 Frogtown Inclination ($27.99), and a bottle of the 2014 Frogtown 770 ($27.99).

Citizens receiving these three white wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost of these wines to $74.44, which includes sales tax, and the addition of $12.84 shipping results in a cost of these wines shipped of $87.26.

Cydney and I, along with Nettie, and Jordan, wish each and every one of our Citizens continued good health and good Cheer and the enjoyment of Frogtown Wines!!!!

SEPTEMBER & DECEMBER ’15 WINEMAKER NOTES

Dear Frogtown Citizen:

2015 Harvest Statistics
Frogtown harvested 156 tons of fruit in 2015, selling 57 tons and retaining 99 tons for Frogtown 2015 wine production.

Recent Weather Patterns of the Dahlonega Plateau
The weather patterns for 2013 vintage, 2014 vintage and 2015 vintage have a common denominator – rain. The most rain received during the growing season was 2013 (a record rain year for Lumpkin County, Georgia). The most rain days during the growing season was 2015, during which Frogtown experienced an astonishing number of rain days. Almost 50% of the days in the 2015 growing season had some rain. The 2014 Growing season was rainy but not as rainy as 2013 or 2015.

A comparison of 2013 most rain received in a growing season and 2015 most rain days in a growing season has one most significant difference. In 2013 there was very little rain during harvest after August 25th. In 2015 there was some rain the during the entire harvest period.

Considering the geographic location of Frogtown, I am not surprised Frogtown experienced so much rain during these vintages. It is abundantly clear the Dahlonega Plateau is in a cycle of significant rainfall. With the exception of the 2003 vintage, the 2001 through 2011 vintage years were significantly less rainy than the most recent three years.
It is most gratifying that, notwithstanding all the rain, Frogtown’s vineyards produced quality grapes during these most recent vintage years.

In these Notes, I will discuss our recent red wines. In the February 2016, Notes, I will discuss our recent white wines.

Vintage 2011 Red Wines.
Vintage 2011 red wines are some of the best red wines ever made at Frogtown. The 2011 red wines sent in May, 2015, September, 2015, and this current December, 2015 wine shipments demonstrate that Vintage 2011 red wines are big everything wines – dark, dark color, multileveled intense and complex fruit, thickly textured, viscous, palate coating wines that deliver a structured long lasting finish.

Vintage 2011 grapes were significantly different then the vintage 2010 grapes that produced some of the lightest textured finesse wines ever produced at Frogtown.

The 2011 reds were cellared in oak barrels for three years. Because of the substantial tannins in these wines a three-year oak protocol was appropriate. Yes, these red wines could have been bottled after a two-year oak regiment, but it would only be conjecture to conclude a shorter wood aging regime would have produced the same quality of wines.

Let’s look separately at each of the 2011 vintage red wines:
2011 Propaganda. Released in the September 2015 shipment and two months after, this wine won a Double Gold Medal at the most prestigious international competition held in the United States, the San Francisco International Wine Competition. A noteworthy, significant accomplishment achieved by Frogtown. I believe there were in the neighborhood of 20 double gold medals awarded in the 2015 San Francisco International Competition from over 6,000 wines evaluated. Is this the best ever Propaganda? Individual preferences could and would prevent a universal judgment that the 2011 Propaganda is the best ever bottling of Propaganda. The best ever descriptor is really not required in judging each bottling of Propaganda. I will not release a vintage Propaganda wine unless I believe the wine labeled, as Propaganda is a “Propaganda wine”. Make sense? What is a Propaganda wine? Well, it is a wine possessing the following Propaganda characteristics:

1. Red wines with similar flavors, complexity, elegance, soft-textured but containing significant tannins, and aging potential as a Bordeaux red wine grown and made in the Pomerol (right bank) region of Bordeaux.

2. A wine, which without question, is easily identified as made entirely from, or substantially composed of, the Merlot grape. A Merlot wine that exhibits dark red fruit including recognizable cassis (black currant) flavors.

3. Red wines which are as big as many Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

4. A red wine exhibiting virtually no green vegetal flavors.

5. A complex wine consisting of very ripe and supple tannins with wonderful mouth-feel. [Propaganda wines are the polar opposite of Merlot wines that can be describes as flabby one-dimensional wines that fail to deliver a complete front and mid palate complexity and a long lingering finish].

6. It is a wine that can and should be long lived (10-15 years of more).

7. A wine providing nuances of chocolate, cacao, vanilla and tobacco resulting from a well integrated oak regimen.

If you eliminate the references to Merlot, the above descriptors are also present in Frogtown’s other red wines; the terroir and wine making protocols are the same with different grape varieties. It is my preference for Bordeaux styled wines even when such wines contain little or no Bordeaux grapes.

Wondering about a “Propaganda wine” containing 100% Frogtown Merlot? Yes it has been done; the 2006 Frogtown Reserve Merlot, labeled as a Merlot Reserve Wine. At the time of our first bottling of a Reserve wine, I thought only varietal wines can achieve a Frogtown Reserve designation. Just does not make sense to me to label Propaganda, Touché, or another Frogtown proprietary blended wine as a Reserve wine. Yeah, one might believe a certain vintage of Propaganda or Touché is better than another, but how much better does a bottling of a Propaganda or Touché need be to be labeled a Reserve? See my point. I much rather think of the 2006 Reserve Merlot as a very special bottling of Propaganda. Make sense? Hope so. Reserving a “Reserve Label” for a varietal labeled wine is significantly more distinctive and less debatable. We do not make many varietal labeled wines and we certainty do not make many Reserve labeled wines.

2011 Citizens Estate Reserve.
I am excited to finally release our first Citizens Estate Labeled Reserve wine at our special dinner planned for December 5, 2015. Slow and slower was the blending and bottling process involving this wine. At first the wine was conceived as a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2011 Cabernet harvested by our Citizens developed into a really good Cabernet Sauvignon wine. After numerous sampling of this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine, I concluded the blending of Malbec and Petit Verdot into the Cabernet Sauvignon would make the wine more distinctive. I commenced adding small amounts of Malbec and Petit Verdot to the Cabernet Sauvignon. I concluded such additions when the blend contained 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Malbec and 19% Petit Verdot. Such blending resulted in a significantly different wine than the “original” 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine. In many respects, the 2011 Citizens Estate Reserve is similar to our Intensity labeled wines, but less fruit forward, and much bigger in texture and complexity. It does contain the finesses and elegance of a Frogtown Intensity wine.

2011 Touché.
The 2011 Touché is the ideal “poster wine” when comparing a 2011 vintage wine with prior vintages of the same labeled Frogtown red wine. Yes, notwithstanding its “bigness”, the 2011 version of Touché is definitely recognizable as a Frogtown Touché. A wonderful Cabernet Franc centric wine delivering the spicy aroma and distinct Cabernet Franc fruit that we have become accustomed to in Touché wine.

2011 Bravado, Audacity, and Penchant.
I decided to dedicate the entire vintage 2013 Sangiovese wine to the making of a Sangiovese varietal wine. This enabled me to use the more concentrated 2011 Sangiovese in the making of Super Tuscan styled wines. I did just that in making the 2011 Bravado, 2011 Audacity, and a new Super Tuscan wine labeled Penchant. The 2011 Bravado and the 2011 Audacity have been released. The 2011 Penchant will be released in the February 2016 shipment. In contrast with Bravado and Audacity, Penchant is composed of almost entirely Sangiovese and Merlot. Softer than its Super Tuscan siblings, the 2011 Penchant fills the gape between our varietal labeled Sangiovese wines and our big Super Tuscan wines. It is a much more “Sangiovese-like” wine than Bravado and Audacity.

2011 404.
Shortly after its release, 404 achieved exactly what I intended in creating this label, Frogtown’s flagship red wine that screams: drink local wine. This is a Merlot dominant wine like Propaganda, but with an entirely different cast of supporting blended wines. No one would argue with the statement the Touriga and Tannat contained in 404 is significantly different from the Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Petit Verdot contained in Propaganda. 404 is a Merlot centric wine containing significant different flavor and aroma than Propaganda.

404 has been wonderfully received and overnight has become one of our best selling red wines.

Merger, First Acquisition.
Yes, this initial bottling of Merger is a non-vintage wine. It, however, contains a substantial amount of 2011 vintage red wine so I think it is appropriate to include this wine in the 2011 vintage. When compared to other 2011 red vintage wines, Merger exhibits a significantly softer mouthfeel and tannin structure. This softer style was my intent in making Merger. How was this achieved? In addition to blending other vintage wines into Merger (from 2014) Merger is primarily a Cabernet Franc and Touriga blend with a relatively significant amount of Sangiovese (10%). I was intrigued when I started to blend Sangiovese into the Cabernet Franc and Touriga base. I kept on putting more Sangiovese into the blend. I really, really, like this initial bottling of Merger. I really do!!! It is soft, but complex. A very easy wine to drink, but a serious food wine which will be wonderful with pasta dishes and flavorful grilled fish. Enjoy its softness and don’t be fooled by its soft palate; Merger is a serious Frogtown red wine. I made 532 cases of Merger, First Acquisition. I strongly doubt Frogtown will ever bottle that many cases of Merger again. The confluence of the availability of significant amounts of Merlot and Touriga wines available this past spring was an oddity, which might not ever occur again when the time arrives in making another Merger wine. That’s OK; Merger will then become a Citizens wine club wine. Enjoy this wine at a very good price point when factoring in your Citizens’ discount.

Vintage 2013 Red wines.
I in addition to Shotgun, 4th Reload and Applause Third Standing ovation containing substantial mounts of 2013 vintage wine, I have made the 2013 vintage wines identified below at the conclusion of the 2015 harvest. I expected these 2011 vintage to be received by you, our Citizens as very high quality wines. That is my assessment of these wines! In addition to Shotgun and Applause, I have made the following labeled 2013 red wines:

2013 Propaganda
2013 404
2013 Touché
2013 Intensity
2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
2013 Reserve Tannat
2013 Reserve Petit Verdot
2013 Priority

Find anything interesting with this list of wines? Yes, 3 Reserve labeled wines and a new label called Priority. It has been three years since the last labeled Reserve wine. I prioritized (no pun intended) the making of a Reserve wine in 2013, ending up with 3 such labeled wines. The number of 2013 Reserve wines is a testament to the quality of many different 2013 barrels.

The 2013 Priority is a very unusual blending of principally Nebbiolo with various amounts of Malbec, Chambourcin and Teroldego. It will interest me greatly with your reaction to this blended red wine, when released.

With the exception of Shotgun and Applause (have been out of Shotgun for almost a year and getting real low on Applause Second Standing Ovation) the remaining wines made from the 2013 vintage grapes will have the luxury of being aged in our cellar for many months before release. These wines were indeed ready to be bottled after a two-year oak regiment, so bottle we did!

Wines included in this Shipment
Citizens receiving three bottles of red wines will receive a bottle of 2011 Frogtown Touché ($29.99), a bottle of 2011 Frogtown Merger ($29.99), and a bottle of 2011 Frogtown 404 ($29.99).
Citizens receiving these red wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost for pick-up of $77.01, which includes sales tax, and the addition of $12.84 shipping (we now must charge sales tax on shipping) results in a cost for these wines shipped of $ 89.85.

Citizens receiving two bottles of Red wine and one bottle of White wine are receiving a bottle of 2011 Frogtown Touché ($29.99), a bottle of 2011 Frogtown Merger ($29.99), and a bottle of 2014 Frogtown 770 ($27.99)
Citizens receiving these red and white wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost for pick-up of $75.30 which includes sales tax and the addition of $12.84 shipping (again, we must now charge sales tax on shipping) results in a cost for these wines shipped of $88.14.

Citizens receiving three bottles of white wines are receiving a bottle of the Frogtown 2014 770 ($27.99), a bottle of the 2014 Vineaux Blanc ($21.99), and a bottle of the 2014 Frogtown Marsanne (30.99). These wines will ship later in the month closer to Christmas. Though the Vineaux Blanc and Marsanne wines are bottled, we are still waiting for the labels.

Citizens receiving these three white wines shall enjoy will a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost of these wines to $69.30 which includes sales tax and the addition of $12.84 shipping (again, we must now charge sales tax on shipping) results in a cost of these wines shipped of $82.14.

Best to All of our Citizens, Craig, Cydney, Nettie, Jordan, and the rest of our Frogtown extended family

MAY ’15, WINEMAKER NOTES

The Vineyard

Weather:
– Rainy, rainy, rather chilly spring.
– Frogtown is experiencing a traditional, long spring as I write these Notes.
– Difficult farming; what else is new?
– Plentiful bud break; looking forward to setting a lot of fruit before we start shoot thinning and cluster thinning

Frost Fighting:
We were up two nights in April fighting frost. On the first occasion, the Supreme Commander of the Frost Army made a strategic mistake. Instead of waiting 6 to 10 additional days for bud break to progress in all areas of the vineyard, the Frost General decided to attack on the morning of March 29. At the time of this attack only our Chardonnay grapes had completed break bud and were showing sufficient frost sensitive growth requiring protection. Frogtown marshaled all of its considerable frost-fighting assets and deployed these assets in and around the Chardonnay Blocks. We were ready!

The meteorologists predicted low temperatures in a range from 26 Degrees F to 30 Degrees F. We experienced 18 Degrees F right before dawn on the 29th at the lowest elevation of the vineyard not protected by our frost fighting assets. Definition of meteorology: a profession that is predominantly wrong (seldom right; is that redundant?).
If SUBSTANTIALLY ALL of Frogtown’s 43 acres of grapes had progressed through bud break; 18 Degrees F low temperature would be devastating. Based on our results, 18 Degrees F (more accurately low 20’s at the elevations of the Chardonnay Blocks) within a week after bud break in these Chardonnay Blocks, not a problem. We commenced employing our assets at 1:30 am when the temperatures at the lowest elevation of the vineyard recorded approximately 30 Degrees F. This is the earliest commencement of frost fighting ever at Frogtown.

With all of our assets trained at the Chardonnay Blocks and a deep inversion layer of warm air 5o feet above the Chardonnay Blocks, I do not believe the temperatures at the Chardonnay Blocks progressed lower than 30 Degrees F. It was fascinating experiencing the difference in temperatures (lower) when I traveled away from the Chardonnay Blocks to the other lower elevations of the vineyard.

Glad we planted Chardonnay at the upper elevations of the vineyard way back in 1999.
The second frost event occurred on the morning of April 5. Deploying our assets was really just a precaution. When you win a frost fight ANY subsequent chance of a frost event should be addressed. Frogtown deployed its frost-fighting assets at 6:oo am on the 5th, a different, much less severe, frost event.

Dahlonega Plateau AVA
The Dahlonega Plateau AVA Application was recently filed with the Federal TTB in Washington. It only took the TTB a few days to say the Application is accepted. While acceptance does not constitute approval, it does mean all of the necessary information is included in the AVA Application. Congratulations to Joseph Forrest, the geologist who prepared and filed the Application. Now the waiting time begins. It could take up to 12 months for the TTB to rule on the Dahlonega Plateau AVA.

Construction at Dahlonega and Helen
Our Citizens who were recently at the Dahlonega tasting room, have seen the progress Frogtown has made in improving the Tasting Room (new back deck; connecting the northerly facing covered porch with the back deck, and the Citizens tasting room and library.

In preparation of serving Frogtown’s signature Panini sandwiches at our Helen tasting room and the introduction of Pizza’s at Helen, we have received the approval from the governmental authorities to install ventilation and fire suppression equipment at Helen. So soon, food will be available at the Helen tasting room.

Yes, Pizza at Frogtown

In March, Cydney and I traveled from California to Las Vegas to attend the National Pizza Exposition, THE pizza tradeshow. Cydney made substantial progress in selecting a brand of imported Italian flour and other ingredients for our pizza offerings. Only made from scratch pizzas for her! We also identified Italian equipment, which we are in the process of purchasing. We presently own four Italian wood fire pizza ovens.

Pizza will be offered at all Frogtown Tasting Rooms.

At Dahlonega, we are improving the patio tasting area with an enclosed tasting room experience and our pizza offerings will be available only at the new (when ready) patio tasting area. Serving pizza at the patio should also assist in “spreading out” our tasting and food service areas with the intent of making our wine tastings and food service more enjoyable, less crowded.

Report on the 2011 Red Wines
Attached is the Addendum to the February Winemaker Notes, which provides our Citizens information as to what to expect from opening and enjoying a bottle of Frogtown wine, as the wine moves though the phases of maturity. I stated in the February, 2011 Notes, this Addendum shall be attached to all Winemaker Notes as a reference source for our Citizens on drinking Frogtown wines, including newly made and transported wines, and the effect moderate and long-term bottle aging has on Frogtown wines.

Within the last two weeks, I have tasted all of our 2011 and 2012 Red wines bottled last December and January. These wines have made substantial progress in their development. My sensory impression of these wines tells me the basic fruit flavors and textures have developed in the bottle. Thus according to the Addendum, these wines are no longer immature. As proof of this development, the 2011 Frogtown Propaganda, has received its first gold medal at the 2015 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.

It is my intent to include in the September 2015, shipment a bottle of the 2011 Propaganda to our All red wine Citizens and our Mixed red and white wine Citizens.

Can’t wait? We will release the 2011 Frogtown Propaganda, 2011 Frogtown 404, 2011 Frogtown Penchant, 2014 Frogtown Marsanne, and the 2014 Inclination in a wine pairing event open only for Frogtown Citizens in June or July of this year. This will “bridge the gap” over the long hiatus between this May Wine Club Shipment and the September, 2015 Wine Club Shipment.

The period from May, through September always seems so long as the grape-growing season moves through flower, verasion, ripening, and then harvest. I will be doing my best, making myself and others laugh every day, not taking myself too seriously, and drinking lots of Frogtown wine.

The Battle of the Frogtown Bravados
Citizens receiving either all red wines or mixed red and white wines shall receive in this shipment a bottle of the 2010 Frogtown Bravado and a bottle of the 2011 Frogtown Bravado. Which one do you like better? Is this a fair competition?

The 2010 Frogtown Bravado won a Best of Class, Platinum Metal at the 2014 Critics Challenge International in San Diego California. Is the 2011 Frogtown Bravado a worthily successor?

The opportunity to enjoy these two bottles of Frogtown Bravado is not to determine which bottle you like better. There is a year and a half difference between the bottling of the 2010 Frogtown Bravado and the 2011 Frogtown Bravado. Not a fair comparison. The opportunity afforded to our Citizens receiving these wines is to compare what an additional year of bottle age has on a Frogtown Bravado wine. Both wines are excellent wines. In time the 2011 Frogtown Bravado could deliver an even more wonderful tasting experience than the 2010 Bravado. Will this happen? Will the 2011 Bravado win Gold, Platinum, Best of Class in California? After you taste the 2011 Bravado, your guess is as good or possibly better than mine. I am extremely proud of both of these wines.

Wines included in this Shipment
Citizens receiving three bottles of red wines will receive a bottle of 201o Frogtown Bravado ($40.99), a bottle of 2011 Frogtown Bravado ($40.99), and a bottle of 2012 Frogtown Personality ($26.99).

Citizens receiving these red wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost for pick-up of $93.27, which includes sales tax, and the addition of $12.84 shipping (we now must charge sales tax on shipping) results in a cost for these wines shipped of $ 106.11.

Citizens receiving two bottles of Red wine and one bottle of White wine are receiving a bottle of 2010 Frogtown Bravado ($40.99), a bottle of 2011 Frogtown Bravado ($40.99), and a bottle of 2013 Frogtown 2012 Frogtown Disclosure Chardonnay: barrel fermented ($28.99)

Citizens receiving these red and white wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost for pick-up of $94.98, which includes sales tax and the addition of $12.84 shipping (again, we must now charge sales tax on shipping) results in a cost for these wines shipped of $107.82.

Citizens receiving three bottles of white wines are receiving a bottle of the Frogtown 2013 Petit Manseng ($27.99), a bottle of the 2011 MRV ($20.99), and a bottle of the 2011 Frogtown Sauvignon Gris (19.99).

Citizens receiving these three white wines shall enjoy will a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost of these wines to $59.03, which includes sales tax and the addition of $12.84 shipping (again, we must now charge sales tax on shipping) results in a cost of these wines shipped of $71.87.

Best to All of our Citizens, Craig, Cydney, Nettie, Jordan, and the rest of our Frogtown extended family

FEBRUARY ’15, WINEMAKER NOTES

Dear Frogtown Citizen:

The Vineyard
As I am composing these Winemaker Notes, the Frogtown’s vines are covered with ice. “Ice Vine,” not Ice Wine. Ice on vines is not a problem so long as the ice does not cause breaking or cracking damage to the shoots and arms. Not many long shoots remain at this time of year. Winter pruning has either reduced the length of last year’s growth (one year old shoots) or reduced last year’s growth to a very short two-bud spur.

2015 Vineyard temperatures have been similar to 2014 temperatures. In 2014, on January 6, 7, and 8 Vineyard low temperatures were recorded at 4, 1, and 11, respectively, Degrees Fahrenheit. In 2015, on January 7, 8, and 9, Vineyard low temperatures were recorded at 9, 6, and 15, respectively, Degrees Fahrenheit. The stated 2014 January temperatures ended the year as the coldest days of 2014. The stated 2015 January temperatures may or may not end as the coldest days in 2015. When temperatures decline into the single digits Fahrenheit vine injury is possible. Temperatures declining to a negative single digit would more probably result in vine injury. Frogtown did experience some vine injury in 2014 from the declining single digit temperatures. The forecast for tomorrow, Thursday, February 19th is single digit low temperatures (5-7 Degrees). Oh well.

Cold temperatures above single digits are relatively good for the Vineyard. Such temperatures kill over-wintering molds and mildews and disturb the hibernation and life cycle development of harmful insects. Additionally colder winter temperatures help with fruit development after bud break and at flowering.
So cold it is and cold it has been; how cold will it get in 2015 and how long will cold weather continue?
Hopefully we will escape frost conditions after bud break in 2015. We could use a break from fighting frost at Frogtown as we did over the last 4 consecutive years!

Bottling the 2011 and 2012 Vintage Wines

Yes, the blending and bottling of Frogtown 2011 and 2012 vintage red wines commenced in December of 2014, as promised in my December, 2014 Winemakers Notes. Frogtown shall continue the bottling process of our 2011 vintage reds into March of this year. 2014 White wine bottling will commence in April of this year and extend through June or July of 2015.

Frogtown red wines produced so far are:

2011 Frogtown Propaganda
2011 Frogtown Bravado
2011 Frogtown Audacity
2011 Frogtown Penchant
2011 Frogtown 404
2011 Frogtown Touriga
2012 Frogtown Convergence, a West Coast, East Coast Wine
2012 Frogtown Compulsion, an East Coast, West Coast Wine
2012 Frogtown Personality
2014 Frogtown Vineaux Nouveau

At this time, it appears there will be no Shotgun, Applause, Touché, Tannat, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, or Sangiovese wine made until commencement of bottling the 2013 Vintage wines, most likely from August through the end of this year. Remember, 2012 vintage was painfully small due to a major frost occurring after bud break reducing our harvest to the lowest level since 2007.
Yeah, OK, but where is the 2011 Citizen’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon? Well, there is a Story.

I initially made a Cabernet varietal wine from the Citizen’s 2011 harvested Cabernet Sauvignon. OK, what’s the hold-up? Well, it’s like this, the wine using only Citizen’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 harvested grapes is very good wine but I have a strong inclination (no pun intended) I can make this wine better if I blended some 2011 Tannat, 2011 Malbec and 2011 Petit Verdot wine into the Citizen’s Cabernet Sauvignon wine.

Unsure as to whether or not I wanted to do a blend containing grapes not harvested by our Citizen’s in a Citizen’s Reserve wine caused me to pause the making of the Citizen’s Reserve wine from 2011. Since the 2011 Vintage would be our first Citizen Reserve wine, I asked myself what should be Frogtown’s model (protocol) for a Citizen’s Reserve wine containing grapes harvested by Frogtown Citizens. This question can be stated a little differently as: Should Frogtown bottle a Reserve Varietal wine made entirely from Citizen harvested grapes or a Reserve Citizen’s Estate wine containing wine made from grapes harvested by our Citizens.

I have decided to make the model for wine made from grapes harvested by our Citizen’s a Reserve Citizen’s Estate wine. In the end, this decision was not that difficult. While the meaning of best or Reserve is a relative subjective exercise, I believe Frogtown should produce what in my opinion is the best wine that can be made with Citizen’s harvested grapes. Calling the Wine a Reserve Citizen’s Estate wine is very appropriate. Choosing the varietal grape to be harvested by our Citizens at Harvest Day with Craig is one “thing.” Making a Reserve wine containing those grapes three years later is quite another “thing.”

Presently, I am testing certain blends from which I will choose a blend that will be the 2011 Reserve Citizen’s Estate wine. Look for the 2011 Frogtown Citizen’s Reserve Estate wine to be available to our Citizens on the weekend of the 2015 Citizen’s Harvest Day with Craig in September of this year.

New Packaging – Bottles and Labels
Cydney and I have desired to upgrade the bottle used for our red wines. With the bottling of the 2011 and 2012 Vintage wines, Frogtown has substantially upgraded the bottles used and in some cases made modifications to its labels. We are utilizing two new Bordeaux styled bottles for most of our Frogtown labeled red wines. The red wines included in this shipment are bottled in a new heavier 870-gram Bordeaux bottle. The prior Bordeaux bottle weighed 545 grams. Additionally the new 870-gram Bordeaux bottle is darker than the previously used 545-gram bottle. We are very excited about this bottle.

We did not stop at the 870-gram bottle. Frogtown also bottled the 2011 Frogtown Propaganda and will bottle all Reserve wines in a 970-gram bottle. Besides being a little heaver than the 870-gram bottle, the new 970-gram bottle has a more defined taper from the shoulder to the foot and a deeper punt. I like to think of this as sexier. Enough said without being accused of something I am not.

These upgrades have been more than over-due. Since our wines compete very favorably with premium California wines, the new Bordeaux styled bottles containing our red wines also comports with the style of bottles used by wineries in California for premium and ultra premium red wines.

Commencing with wines from the 2011 or 2012 Vintage please be careful in lifting a case of Frogtown red wines. The added bottle weight does result in a noticeable heavier weight of the bottled wine and, importantly, a case of such wine, notwithstanding the wine in the bottle remains 750 ml.

Release of the February, 2015 Shipment Wines at Valentine’s Day Dinner and Brunch
I was not comfortable Frogtown would be able to label all of this Shipment’s wines by Noon on Saturday, February 14, 2015 for pick-up on Saturday, the date of the Valentines Dinner, and on Sunday, the date of the Valentines Brunch. My guys and I were working feverishly to make this happen. Since we did receive the labels on Tuesday, February 10th, I knew that I could, if necessary, hand label the released wines paired with some of the food items on the Valentines Day Dinner and the Valentines Day Brunch. Well, we did complete the labeling of the Shipment wines right at noon on Valentines Day.

Three of this Shipments wines were paired with dishes served at the Valentines Dinner and Brunch. These wines were the 2012 Frogtown Compulsion, the 2013 Frogtown Petit Manseng, and the 2012 Frogtown Disclosure Chardonnay (barrel fermented). I was extremely gratified by the reaction of our Citizens attending the dinner and the brunch to these wines. This was particularly so with regard to the 2012 Frogtown Compulsion, an East Coast West Coast wine.

Discussion of Compulsion, an East Coast, West Coast, Wine – Convergence, a West Coast, East Coast Wine – and Disclosure labeled Wines.
Our First Compulsion and First Convergence were made and released in 2010. At the time of the release of these wines, the TTB, for some reason unknown to me did not allow placing a vintage dating on American labeled wines. This administrative regulation was changed in 2012. That is why Frogtown used the designation “First” for each of these wines in 2010 and why the new Compulsion and Convergence wines are labeled with a 2012 Vintage.

The First Compulsion and First Convergence wines won Gold Medals in California, and with regard to Compulsion, won a Platinum Medal at a major California competition (well using the word “major” is redundant, since all California Competitions to which Frogtown submits its wines are the most major competitions in the Country).

It was an easy decision for me to purchase 2012 Merlot grapes and 2012 Chardonnay grapes from a friend of mine farming grapes in the Dry Creek AVA of Sonoma County, California. What happened in 2012? Freeze, drastically reduced harvest. Frogtown was ripe (pun intended) for some red grapes from California. Also in 2012, I committed to Wolf Mountain to sell practically all of our Chardonnay grapes harvested in 2012, 2013, and 2014, while Frogtown’s new Chardonnay vines were planted and maturing. I wanted Wolf Mountain’s sparkling wine production to remain 100% Georgia. As a result of the bankruptcy of Blackstock, the only way to maintain a sparkling wine production at Wolf Mountain to be all Georgia framed grapes was this commitment by Frogtown. So, again Frogtown was also ripe for getting Chardonnay grapes from California to replace the grapes sold to Wolf Mountain.

The making of the Compulsion, Convergence, Disclosure Merlot, Disclosure Chardonnay (barrel fermented) and the Disclosure Steel Chardonnay, also afforded Frogtown the continuing ability to distinguish Frogtown’s labeling practices from other wineries on the East Coast, including Georgia. Any Frogtown wine containing even one grape grown in California is labeled American Wine, not Georgia Wine. Additionally, I enjoy making these American Wines.

Estate Wine Offerings By Frogtown in the NOT to Distant Future, and the Dahlonega Plateau AVA

Estate Wine Offerings
Ultimately, when Frogtown’s Adelaida, Paso Robles, vineyard starts producing fruit, Frogtown will be offering to its Citizens:
A selection of estate wines labeled Dahlonega Plateau (for now Georgia) from grapes grown at Frogtown’s vineyard estate on the Dahlonega Plateau in Lumpkin County, Georgia and made in our Dahlonega winery,
A selection of estate wines labeled Adelaida, Paso Robles, from grapes grown at Frogtown’s Adelaida, Paso Robles vineyard to be called Shattered Limestone, and made in a California winery by Frogtown, and lastly
A selection of wines (do not know if the Federal Government will allow an estate designation on an American labeled wine) from grapes grown at its Dahlonega Plateau and Adelaida, Paso Robles, estate vineyards and made in our Dahlonega winery.

Neat, would be an appropriate descriptor!!!

Dahlonega Plateau AVA
Notice that I have used the AVA designation of the Dahlonega Plateau in describing above grapes grown at our Dahlonega vineyard. I am excited to report an Application will be filed in March of this year with the Federal TTB, stating the case for, and requesting the issuance of, the Dahlonega Plateau AVA. Joseph Forrest, a geologist preparing the Application has been very receptive to Frogtown’s extensive input in stating the case for the creation of the Dahlonega Plateau as an American Viticultural Area as well as the delineation of the area encompassing the Dahlonega Plateau, AVA. Joe Forrest has done an excellent job on compiling and presenting the information why, and stating the case for, the creation of the Dahlonega Plateau AVA.

Wines included in this Shipment

Each of the red wines included in this shipment have been bottled within 10 weeks of its release. Due to the transportation of such red wines and the red wines recent bottling and storage in a facility in the middle of the winter, these very young wines will benefit by storing them in a place at room temperature for at least one week before you enjoy a bottle. This is not a necessity, just a suggestion. Those Citizens who enjoyed the 2012 Frogtown Compulsion at Valentines Dinner or Brunch, along with the 2013 Frogtown Petit Manseng and the 2012 Frogtown Disclosure Chardonnay (barrel fermented) or enjoyed a tasting of the 2012 Frogtown Convergence or the 2011 Frogtown Audacity have been very complementary about these wines. You will enjoy these wines whenever you taste them.

Each of the white wines included in this shipment were bottled 4 to 6 months prior to their release. Consequently these wines have matured in the bottle for a period of time greater than the red wines. Nonetheless, a period of settling of these wines after their delivery to your house will aid in the enjoyment of these wines.

I have prepared an Addendum to these Winemaker Notes to provide our Citizens with information as to what to expect from opening and enjoying a bottle of Frogtown wine, as the wine moves though the phases of maturity mentioned in the Addendum. At the beginning of the Addendum, I have provided information concerning the term “Bottle Shock,” the real bottle shock, that is, not the movie, which provided a jaded and an extremely unfortunate misrepresentation of Merlot wines.

I intend to attach this Addendum to all subsequent Winemaker Notes as a reference source for our Citizens on drinking Frogtown wines, including newly made and transported wines, and the effect moderate and long-term bottle aging has on Frogtown wines.

Citizens receiving three bottles of red wines will receive a bottle of 2012 Frogtown Compulsion ($37.99), a bottle of 2012 Frogtown Convergence ($37.99), and a bottle of 2011 Frogtown Audacity ($33.99).
Citizens receiving these red wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost for pick-up of $94.13, which includes sales tax, and the addition of $12.84 shipping (we now must charge sales tax on shipping) results in a cost for these wines shipped of $106.97.

Citizens receiving two bottles of Red wine and one bottle of White wine are receiving a bottle of 2012 Frogtown Compulsion ($37.99), a bottle of 2012 Frogtown Convergence ($37.99), and a bottle of 2013 Frogtown Petit Manseng ($27.99)

Citizens receiving these red and white wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost for pick-up of $89.00, which includes sales tax and the addition of $12.84 shipping (again, we must now charge sales tax on shipping) results in a cost for these wines shipped of $101.84.

Citizens receiving three bottles of white wines are receiving a bottle of the Frogtown 2013 Petit Manseng ($27.99), a bottle of the 2012 Frogtown Disclosure Chardonnay; barrel fermented ($28.99), and a bottle of the 2012 Frogtown Disclosure Steel Chardonnay ($24.99).

Citizens receiving these three white wines shall enjoy will a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost of these wines to $70.17, which includes sales tax and the addition of $12.84 shipping (again, we must now charge sales tax on shipping) results in a cost of these wines shipped of $83.01.

Cydney and I, along with Nettie, Wendy, Jordan, and Jackie, wish each and every one of our Citizens continued good health and good Cheer and the enjoyment of Frogtown Wines!!!!

DECEMBER ’14 WINEMAKER NOTES

Dear Frogtown Citizen:

What is happening in Georgia?

The vineyard. Cydney’s Grandmother, Lee, always said it is “good to complain because you never know who might be listening.” In my Notes of September 8, 2014, I stated: “as I write these Notes, we have had 7 days of rain. It is easy to be depressed, but that gets us nowhere. The vineyard is virtually without disease. We plan on holding all of our grapes until each variety achieves the degree of ripeness we require.” These words could (well, yeah, should) be interpreted as complaining. Complaining, notwithstanding Grandma Lee’s imprimatur, is not one of my personality traits. These words are about the most complaining, as you will hear (read) from me. Apparently it was sufficient. Mother Nature was lessening. On September 9, 2014, the rains virtually ceased. We have had excellent weather up to the last day we harvested grapes. Thank you Grandma Lee!

As our Citizens who attended Harvest Day with Craig witnessed, the vineyard was in excellent condition. Again a testimony (no pun intended) to our vineyard associates and the intensive spray protocols I instituted in 2013 and continued during the growing season of 2014. I have taken the approach that whatever it takes and at whatever cost we are going to maintain the vineyard in the best growing condition possible. Only grapes that have been relatively disease free during the beginning (bud break); middle (verasion) and end of the growing season can take advantage of a harvest under good weather conditions; achieving the flavor intensity and chemistry we want and expect from our vineyard. No way are we going to be guilty of “if only we did this or that our results would have been better.” We do our best farming each and every day in the vineyard. I have an aversion to excuses even more than complaining! To complete this thought, my favorite quote of all time is from Yoda: “Do or do not, there is no try.”

The Library storage facility and Citizen’s tasting room and private dinning area are finally under construction and standing tall at the southerly end of the back deck. Because of all the rain we received in the spring, we delayed the erection of this timber frame extension until the completion of Harvest. With all of the “things” Frogtown has going on currently, the estimated time for opening this addition will be in the summer of 2015. Additional information about this expansion to our Event Facility and Winery will be forthcoming prior to opening this area to you, our Citizens.

Drink Tannat, it is good for your health.

From time to time, I find it interesting to search the Internet on subjects of wine and the grape varieties grown at Frogtown. Recently, it has been reported Uruguayan and Italian researchers in Montevideo, Uruguay (Tannat is the national grape of Uruguay) have sequenced the genome of the Tannat grape. Uruguayan chemistry professor Francisco Curau and Italian scientist Massimo Delledonne intensely studied juice extracted from Tannat grapes. These researchers found that wines made from the Tannat gapes, thanks partly to its many seeds, produce the largest concentration of tannins — an anti-oxidant that combats the ageing of cells. Says Prof. Carrau: “A wine made with Tannat has twice the tannins of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Pinot Noir (so much for movie Sideways).

This research has confirmed what has been believed for years that Tannat grapes produce the most healthy of red vinifera (the European wine grape genre) wines due to the wines high level of procyanidins, which are good for reducing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and encouraging healthy blood clotting.

Now, a little nomenclature and chemistry in connection with the composition of red wine grapes and red wine making is necessary. Just a little.

Procyanidins are members of the condensed tannin class of flavonoids. Flavonoids are plant pigments found in virtually all plants, and are responsible for many of the plant colors of yellow, orange, and red. Most flavonoids function in the human body as antioxidants. In this capacity, they help neutralize overly reactive oxygen-containing molecules and prevent these overly reactive molecules from damaging parts of human cells. Your mother was correct, eat your vegetables!

Procyanidins depolymerize (meaning the more complex molecular structure of procyanidins are broken down) during the wine making process as a result of the oxidative conditions (exposure to air) prevalent in red wine fermentation to produce, among other things, cyanidin. From Wilkipedia:

“Cyanidin, is a natural organic compound. It has a characteristic reddish-purple color. The highest concentrations of cyanidin are found in the seeds and skin of a given fruit. Cyanidin, like other anthocyanidins, has putative antioxidant and radical-scavenging effects, which may protect cells from oxidative damage and reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. One theory is that dietary intake of cyanidins may inhibit development of obesity and diabetes as well as provide anti-inflammatory effects.”

[In the discussion of scientific studies you come across the word putative frequently. This word can be defined as commonly accepted or supposed. I have always thought that the use of this word in the context of a results oriented statement is the way scientists qualify (hedge) the cause or effect of the result mentioned].

Putting the foregoing into a simple statement: Red wine is good for your health and Tannat wines exhibit better health containing properties than other red wines.

So Frogtown’s business is wine, produced from grapes grown by Frogtown, which contain tannin (procyanidin), which is a class of flavonoids, which, when exposed to the oxidative protocols used by Frogtown in red wine fermentation, produce cyanidin, which like other anthocyanidins have a positive affect on reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Like I said, Frogtown is in the health care business!

What is happening in California?

Cydney and I spent the Thanksgiving Holiday in Paso Robles. The Adelaida vineyard is progressing nicely. Our vineyard manager is doing a good job. In the spring of 2015 the final 8,000 vines will be planted. This time last year I was wondering should I plant in 2014 or wait until 2015. Paso Robles had only a little more than an inch of rain during the entire 2013 calendar year. It was dry, real dry in the Adelaida region of Paso Robles. The decision to plant 40,000 vines in 2014 was a good decision, as the well at our Alelaida property (which was established in the earl 1950’s) produced more than adequate amounts of water for the newly established grape vines.

Harvest 2014

I am very pleased with the quality of the fruit we harvested this year, especially the Cabernet Sauvignon harvested by our Citizens. 2014 will be an excellent vintage for Frogtown. With the bottling of our 2011 red wines and the relatively small amount of red wines for the very small harvest of 2012, Frogtown’s Citizen have two excellent vintages in 2013 and 2014 aging in its cellar

Bottling the 2011 and 2012 Vintage Wines.

The blending and bottling of Frogtown 2011 and 2012 vintage red wines commenced at the conclusion of Harvest 2014 and shall continue though the month of March, 2015. Frogtown 2011 red wines have spent 33 to 37 months in oak. This is a longer aging protocol than usual. The extra time in oak has resulted in the best oak integration I have experienced in Frogtown red wines. The 2011 reds are big, complex, but have that velvet smooth mouthfeel we all expect and love about Frogtown red wine. The 2012 vintage was painfully small. Most of the red wines in this vintage are being used in the production of Compulsion, the East Coast West Coast Wine and Convergence, the West Coast East Coast Wine. Our Citizens receiving three bottles of red wine in this shipment will enjoy receiving First Compulsion. The small amount of First Compulsion remaining will be classified as a library wine

New Wines are being produced.

For the first time in a while I have made some new wines. For starters we have made a nouveau red wine in the style of a Beaujolais Nouveau. Since we do not grow the Gamay grape that is the principal, if not the sole, grape used in France for a Beaujolais Nouveau wine, I blended a number of grape varieties together to get the fruity fresh wine style result expected in a nouveau wine. Unlike all other Frogtown red wines, I did fine and will filter this wine at the time of bottling. We did not put our nouveau wine through malolactic fermentation, so filtering the wine is appropriate. Using our trademark “Vineaux”, we are calling this wine Vineaux Nouveau. Neat! The TTB, the federal Administrative Agency regulating the wine industry, has given Frogtown label approval, so we should have this wine available in early 2015 for your enjoyment. Very different, very interesting, and a lot of fun is the way I think about our 2014 Vineaux Nouveau!

A red wine blend of Touriga Nacional and Merlot made with the view to blending the percentage of these grapes as equal as possible has appealed to me for some time. Cydney and I have chosen 404 as the name of this blend. One of our favorite beers is made in Paso Robles and called 805 (the Area Code for Paso). Using 404, one of the major Area Codes for metropolitan Atlanta, is another way to say to the world (well, at least those living in or around Georgia and other States) that we are proud of making world-class wines entirely from Georgia grapes. Additionally, we intend the 404 name of this wine to emphasize the importance of drinking wine locally grown and made!

Frogtown has also received label approval from the TTB to label a new rosé wine. We are calling this wine White Rosé. I have blended Frogtown 2014 Vintage white wine into our traditional rosé base for 2014 from which 2014 Vineaux Rosé is to be made to arrive at this second 100% dry rosé. We are also seeking federal trademark protection for the trademark “White Rosé.” As the name of this wine suggests, this is a very pale rosé wine. Many of you know that Cydney and I drink a lot of Frogtown Vineaux Rosé and rosé wine produced by others, usually French. This new rosé will also be available early in 2015.

Since, I am committed to the Disclosure label I have bottled a white wine blend using California Chardonnay and Frogtown Vidal. This wine is similar to Frogtown Inclination but without using Frogtown Viognier as a blending partner. We are calling this wine Merger, which is just what happens in a Disclosure wine, merging wine made from east coast grown grapes with wine made from west coast grown grapes. This wine will be appropriately labeled as an American Wine.

The last new wine is named Penchant. The word penchant can be described as liking, fondness, preference, taste, relish, partiality, soft spot, love, passion, desire, fancy, whim, weakness, inclination, bent, bias, proclivity, predilection, predisposition. As such, just a perfect name for a Frogtown red wine!

While comprising the blends for 2011 Bravado and Audacity, I composed a blend using only Merlot and Sangiovese and liked the blend a lot. Since Bravado is primarily a Sangiovese and Tannat blend and Audacity is primarily a Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon blend, what do you do with a blend that is primarily Merlot and Sangiovese? You bottle the wine under a new label. You will enjoy Penchant, our third Super Tuscan wine. It is most interesting tasting the 2011 Bravado, the 2011 Audacity, and the 2011 Penchant at the same time. Our Citizens will find the aroma and taste of these three Frogtown Super Tuscans so incredibly different!
Wines Included in this Shipment.

2010 Frogtown Intensity – after the initial release of this wine, we have aged this wine for a year. I think the 2010 Intensity has developed into a wine that is just what its name implies. This is our Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Petit Verdot Bordeaux blend. This wine is a wonderful complement to our Propaganda Bordeaux blend of primarily Merlot. Deep dark fruit, silky mouthfeel, well-rounded lush tannins and great oak integration with vanilla, chocolate nuances.

2009 Frogtown Audacity – this is a much more concentrated and intense wine than the 2008 Frogtown Audacity, but with a less fruity presentation. A red Super Tuscan that is more to the style of red wine that I find compelling. These Notes mention our third Super Tuscan wine, the 2011 Penchant above. Not the worst of “things,” to be known for wonderful Super Tuscans that start with very varietal correct Sangiovese grown at Frogtown.

Frogtown First Compulsion – I withheld a sufficient amount of this wine for sale with the intent to send a good portion of the withheld wine to our Citizens receiving three red wines. Enjoy this very, very, very complex beautiful wine. With the making of the 2012 Compulsion and 2012 Convergence, I felt now was the appropriate time to send the extended cellared First Compulsion. When we made our initial East Coast West Coast and West Coast East Coast wines, the TTB would not allow, for some reason, the use of a vintage date for an otherwise vintage American labeled wine. That rule has changes so our two ultra premium wines incorporating Frogtown grown grapes with California grown grapes are now vintage dated.

2010 Frogtown Disclosure Merlot – Wonderful Merlot flavors in this 85% Frogtown-grown Merlot blended with 15% Dry Creek-grown Merlot. This wine is an elegant, yet complex, combination of some bright cherry flavors and the customary darker red fruit flavors of a Frogtown grown wine. This wine was bottled over a year ago, so just pop the cork (real premium cork – the only way to bottle a premium wine) and enjoy!!!

2011 Frogtown MRV – Frogtown’s Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier blend is at its most expressive development in this 2011 blend. An intense white wine without any citrus flavors; try this wine with pork, chicken or some other normally red wine blending meat prepared on the lighter side.

2011 Frogtown Reserve Chardonnay – the last time Frogtown bottled a 100% Estate Grown Chardonnay. This is about to change with the coming of the 2015 vintage. This wine is a 100% French oak made and aged wine. You will not experience an over-oaked wine, rather a very complex wine with Chardonnay flavors wrapped in oaky toasty background.

2012 Petit Manseng – an 89-point winner at the 2014 Critics Challenge International in San Diego, California. So glad I planted Petit Manseng. It is the fruitiest dry wine made at Frogtown, but very complex and big on the palate.

Citizens receiving three bottles of red wines will receive a bottle of Frogtown First Compulsion ($33.99), a bottle of 2009 Frogtown Disclosure Merlot ($31.99), and a bottle of 2010 Frogtown Intensity ($37.99). Initially, we intended to send a bottle of the 2009 Frogtown Audacity, but as we began fulfilling this shipment, we discovered that we were a few bottles short of the 2009 Frogtown Audacity and decided it would be better to send to our three red wine Citizens the 2010 Disclosure Merlot. Citizens receiving these red wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost of these wines to $83.17 before sales tax. The addition of sales tax results in a cost for pick-up of $ 88.99 and the addition of $12.00 shipping results in a cost for these wines shipped of $100.99.

Citizens receiving two bottles of Red wine and one bottle of White wine are receiving a bottle of 2009 Frogtown Audacity ($31.99), a bottle of 2010 Frogtown Intensity ($37.99), and a bottle of 2011 Frogtown MRV ($20.99) Citizens receiving these red and white wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost of these wines to $72.55 before sales tax. The addition of sales tax results in a cost for pick-up of $78.70 and the addition of $12.00 shipping results in a cost for these wines shipped of $90.70.

Citizens receiving three bottles of white wines are receiving a bottle of the Frogtown 2011 MRV ($20.99), a bottle of the 2011 Frogtown Reserve Chardonnay ($27.99), and a bottle of the 2012 Frogtown Petit Manseng ($27.99) Citizens receiving these three white wines shall enjoy will a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost of these wines to $61.57 before sales tax. The addition of sales tax results in a cost for pick-up of $65.88 and the addition of $12.00 shipping results in a cost of these wines shipped of $77.88.

Cydney and I wish each and every one of our Citizens a healthy and enjoyable Holiday Season, merry Christmas, and all the best in the coming new year.


SEPTEMBER ’14 WINEMAKER 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 Winedude.com 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 Winedude.com 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.

Fun!!!!!

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 – frogtownwine.com, 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

1 2 3