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

MAY ’14 WINEMAKER NOTES

Dear Frogtown Citizen:

Vineyard Update

In my February 12, 2014 Winemaker Notes, I reported a very cold winter and “Frogtown has experienced single digit temperatures, so vine death and bud necrosis is a possibility.” On January 7, 2014, Frogtown recorded a 2 Degree F temperature, and most significantly, the average 24-hour temperature on January 7, 2014 was 27 Degrees F, significantly below freezing. The January 7th low of 2 Degrees F was preceded by a 4 Degree F temperature low on January 6, 2014, and was followed by a 12 Degree F temperature low on January 8, 2014. Very, very, cold three days for vinifera wine grapes.

Now that our spring pruning is completed, I estimate, Frogtown lost 800+ vines and had significant bud necrosis, including the loss of fruitful buds as a result of the very cold winter.
But Mother Nature was not finished. In the early morning of April 16, 2014, Frogtown experienced a bone-chilling freeze with a low temperature of 26.5 Degrees F. Our Chardonnay, Malbec, Tannat, and Merlot vines were the most adversely affected. I estimate a loss of up to 30 tons of fruit attributable to this freeze. To put such loss into perspective, in a vintage with average to good growing conditions, Frogtown should harvest between 120 and 140 tons of fruit.

Since April 16, 2014, the weather patterns have been good. Our next critical phase for this year’s vintage will be flowering and fruit set, which should commence at the end of this month.
Being optimistic is the only attitude that makes sense; so I look forward to Frogtown having a very good to excellent vintage.

2014 Harvest Day with Craig

MARK YOUR CALENDARS AND MAKE RESERVATIONS TO JOIN ME ON SEPTEMBER 27, 2014 FOR CITIZENS HARVEST DAY WITH CRAIG. Cydney and I look forward to hosting over 200 Citizens at this year’s harvest festivities. If you have never participated in a Citizens Harvest, you are missing a very special day of harvesting grapes, processing the grapes you harvest, food (breakfast, lunch, and harvest dinner) and, of course WINE! Oh, and yes, spending the day with your fellow Frogtown Citizens!

2011 Frogtown Citizens Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Mentioning Citizens Harvest Day with Craig would not be complete without reporting that I will be bottling the 2011 Citizen’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon in June. I can assure you the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes our Citizen’s harvested in 2011 from Block D, Rows 1-10 have developed into exceptional wine. This Reserve wine spent 3o months in a combination of French and American Oak with different aged barrels from new to neutral oak. This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine from our vineyards exhibits everything that makes a Frogtown Cabernet Sauvignon a Reserve wine.

Here are my initial tasting notes on this Reserve Cabernet wine:
The 2011 Citizens Reserve Cabernet has classic Bordeaux-like elegant concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon fruit flavors, and supple mouthfeel texture that can only be achieved when the tannins are full-bodied and round. This supple mouthfeel is the wine texture we all have grown accustomed to expect in a Frogtown red wine; the most important, in my opinion, feature that makes red wine so enjoyable and special. A considerable amount of cassis and other dark red fruit flavors are enhanced by well-integrated oak, and vanilla, cocoa, and tobacco nuances. The intense flavors of this wine are very complex, just the complete opposite of a one dimensional fruit forward wine consumers often get in a very expensive California Cabernet from a famous AVA. Lastly, I love the balance of this wine which contains just the right amount of acid to make the 2011 Citizens Cabernet Reserve a complete food wine which begs for a juicy New York strip or Porterhouse steak. Wow this wine is destined to be a wine-drinking sensation at its best over the period 2016 through 2021.
Can’t wait to get this wine to our Citizens. With appropriate age in the bottle, this wine could rival the 2006 Frogtown Reserve Merlot.

I plan on bottling a number of bottles of this wine in a hand painted engraved bottle, 750ml and a larger bottle format.

Cydney and I plan a release dinner for our Citizens of this Citizens Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, probably in November or December of 2014.

Frogtown Adelaida

Our Paso Robles vineyard is being planted as I write these Winemaker Notes. We are planting all of the Bordeaux Varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and even the lost Bordeaux varietal, CarmÉnÈre, along with a significant planting of Petit Syrah. That totals seven red grape varietals.

Frogtown South

Will be opening in June. So if you find yourself in South Georgia or you are looking for a neat road trip destination, come by and enjoy our tasting room off of Interstate 75 in Hahira, Georgia (the Sandy Springs of Valdosta, Georgia). If you do visit say hello to Wendy, whom many of you already know from meeting her here at Frogtown Dahlonega.

Discussion of the 2010 Frogtown Reserve Tannat.

As I am often prone to do, I tried something different in 2010 during the fermentation of our Tannat grapes. I inoculated a portion of our 2010 Tannat grapes with a different yeast that consumes Malic acid during alcohol fermentation. At harvest, Frogtown Tannat grapes contain elevated levels of malic acid. This fact must be taken into consideration when making a Tannat wine. Very few commercial yeast types can consume malic acid during alcohol fermentation.

The significance of this malic acid-consuming yeast is to reduce the acidity of the wine during fermentation. There are other winemaking protocols that also actually reduce acidity in wine or give the impression of reduced acidity. Putting a wine through malolactic fermentation has a similar acid reducing effect. In malolactic fermentation, malic acid is transformed into less intense lactic acid. The resulting wine is less acidic and exhibits softness on the palate.

When making wine, one must be careful to have the finished wine contain the right amount of acidity, which makes wine “lively” on the palate and necessary for a well-balanced wine. The final blend of the 2010 Frogtown Reserve Tannat was a combination of wines made with this new and different yeast and 2010 Tannat grapes fermented with the yeast I have been using for many years. The traditional yeasts finish alcohol fermentation of Tannat grapes with higher levels of acidity than the new yeast. So instead of blending different varieties together to produce a finished wine, I blended 2010 Tannat wines fermented with different yeasts. Sound unusual? Not really. I have been using such different yeast blending technique for years on a number of other Frogtown wines.

Just in time for these Winemaker Notes the 2010 Frogtown Reserve Tannat has won a GOLD medal at the 2014 Riverside (California) International Wine Competition. Wow! Another 100% Georgia grown and made Frogtown premium 100% dry wine wins a Gold Medal in a Major California Competition!

Here are my tasting notes on the 2010 Frogtown Reserve Tannat:

The 2010 Frogtown Reserve Tannat is a very supple full-bodied Tannat wine. In contrast to prior Frogtown Tannat wines, I did not blend relatively minor amounts of Cabernet Franc into this 2010 Reserve Tannat wine. I again, like the 2009 Frogtown Tannat, made a 100% Tannat wine. Different yeasts were used during fermentation to produce this wine, which not only reduced the amount of acid in this wine but also slightly modified the flavor and aroma of this 2010 Reserve Tannat. The nose is a little more subdued than other Frogtown Tannat wines made in prior vintages. You will need to concentrate on the aroma to find the paradoxical flowers on the nose of this wine. The dark fruit and earthiness of our Tannat wines is also slightly reduced resulting in a more fruit-forward wine. I used significantly more new oak, both French and American, in aging this wine. You will not, however, notice this increase in new oak when tasting this wine. The oak is very well integrated. The supple palate also “handles” the fruitiness of this wine by integrating the fruit flavors, which aids in the complexity and elegance of this wine. Yes, this wine is somewhat different from past Frogtown Tannat wines but the differences produce nuances that are interesting, intellectual, and above all else, fun to experience.

Discussion of the 2010 Frogtown Disclosure Merlot

Very similar in mouthfeel to the 2010 Frogtown Touché ¡and the 2010 Frogtown Bravado, that were sent as part of the February, 2013 shipment, the 2010 Disclosure Merlot also exhibits a very supple beginning palate, that develops weight as the wine moves to the back of the palate and finishes with complex flavors of cassis and other dark red fruit.

This is a “Disclosure labeled wine” as a result of blending some of the 2012 Dry Creek Merlot into our 2010 Frogtown Merlot wine. As previously mentioned in a prior Winemaker Notes, I purchased Merlot grapes from the Dry Creek AVA of California and fermented these grapes at Frogtown. The resulting wine is 88% Frogtown 2010 Merlot and 12% 2012 Dry Creek Merlot. A winemaker can blend a different vintage (‘minority vintage”) into a wine and still label the wine the vintage of the “majority vintage” wine so long as the resulting wine does not contain more than 15% of the minority vintage. I am sure literally all of you have not heard of this allowable winemaking regulation. Blending two vintages together under this regulation is simply a winemaker’s “secret;” never to be mentioned to the consuming public. But why is this so? A law professor of mine would say: “life in all its fullness is the answer to the riddle,” when something in the law was inexplicable. So now you know why it is so.

You Citizens will recall that I have in the past blended a California grown wine with a Frogtown grown wine as a blending tool to add interest to our wines AND to demonstrate that truth in labeling is a benefit to the consuming public by how Frogtown labels and discloses how such non-domiciliary grapes were used in making the subject wine. Frogtown always puts wines containing any amount of California fruit in an “American” wine and the additional label disclosure reference to either the fact that the wine is an East Coast West Coast Wine, a West Coast East Coast Wine, or a Disclosure wine. Most significantly WE DISCLOSE TO YOU JUST WHAT YOU ARE CONSUMING, TO THE EXTENT ALLOWED BY LAW. Yes, the law does limit what disclosures are allowed on the label when bottling wine. For instance, the last time I looked at a map, Georgia was not contiguous to California, the Federal labeling laws do not allow any reference to California ANYWHERE ON THE LABEL, notwithstanding it is 100% accurate that a specific wine contains California grown grapes.

Although the 2010 Disclosure Merlot contains 12% 2012 Dry Creek Merlot, the wine, to me, is very Frogtown-like with just a slight nuance of the more fruit forward 2012 Dry Creek Merlot.

Increase in the Amount a Citizen can be Charged for an All Red and Mixed Red and White Citizen.
Over the last two years I have increased the price of Frogtown wines by relatively small margins. For instance, the first Frogtown Touché was priced at $21.99 (12 years ago) and recently I raised the price of Frogtown Touché to $24.99.

Sending a bottle of Frogtown Applause, FSO to our All Red Citizens was not my initial choice for this shipment. I wanted to send a bottle of the 2010 Frogtown Norton. However, the 2010 Norton is priced at $28.99 and would have resulted in an even higher Citizen Discount (I know – what’s so bad about that?) to our All Red Citizens than the 28% provided below; so, I decided instead to send the Applause at its $21.99 retail cost.

Starting with the 2014 September shipment, the maximum amount that can be charged to an All Red Citizen and Mixed Red and White Citizen will increase $15.00 a shipment to $90.00. There is no need to raise the price per shipment for our All White Citizens. This is our first price increase in the maximum amount, which can be charged to a Citizen since inception of the Wine Club over seven years ago.

Wines Included in this Shipment:

All Red Citizens

All Red Citizens will receive, in addition to a bottle of the 2010 Frogtown Reserve Tannat ($48.99), discussed above, a bottle of the 2010 Frogtown Disclosure Merlot, ($33.99), discussed above, a bottle of the Frogtown Applause, FSO ($21 .99). With a 28% discount (an additional 8% over the normal Citizen Discount, the costs of these three wines are $75.57 without sale tax and shipping costs, if applicable.

Mixed Red and White Citizens

All Mixed Red and White Citizens will receive, in addition to a bottle of the 2010 Frogtown Reserve Tannat ($48.99), discussed above, a bottle of the 2010 Frogtown Disclosure Merlot, ($33.99), discussed above, a bottle of the 2011 Frogtown Viognier ($24.99). With a 30% discount (an additional 10% over the normal Citizen Discount, the costs of these three wines are $75.57 without sale tax and shipping costs, if applicable.

All White Citizens

All White Citizens are receiving a bottle of our 2011 Frogtown Vineaux RosÉ ($19.99), a bottle of the 2011 Frogtown MRV ($24.99), and a bottle of the 2012 Frogtown Vineaux Blanc ($20.99). With the 20% Citizens discount, the costs of these three wines are $50.37 without sales tax and shipping costs, if applicable.
The 2011 Frogtown MRV now reminds me of the 2006 MRV with it’s yummy nose of flowers and its almond and hazelnut nuances on the palate.

Cydney and I wish the very best to all our wonderful Citizens!!!!

FEBRUARY ’14 WINEMAKER NOTES

Dear Frogtown Citizen:

Vineyard Update

It has been cold this winter. I do not remember a North Georgia winter that has been this cold for quite a while. Not only have we experienced cold temperatures, for the first time in many years, we experienced significant snow conditions at the winery. As I write these Winemaker Notes I am looking out on our vineyards covered with approximately 4 inches of snow. Pretty sight.

Are the vines adversely affected by cold weather? Generally, no. However, if single digit temperatures occur for extended days, bud necrosis and even vine death can occur. Yes, we have experienced single digit temperatures, so yes, bud necrosis is a possibility. We could cut through some buds on vines at the coldest areas of the vineyard to determine if bud necrosis is present, but the extent of any bud necrosis will not be readily apparent until bud break.

On the plus side, the cold weather is beneficial in the elimination of over-wintering insects, viruses, molds and mildews. Temperatures below 25 degrees are very beneficial in killing and knocking back Pierces Disease, a very deadly vine disease that is indigenous to the Southeast. Such cold weather kills the virus and kills and decreases the population of the sharpshooter insect, which is the vector for the disease.
Pouring of the 2009 Frogtown Petit Verdot at the Unified Wine Grape symposium in Sacramento, California on January 28.

After I barrel down the red wines from a harvest (usually by the middle of December), Cydney and I head to California to spend time with Jordan, our winemaker daughter, our two granddaughters and our son-in-law Emanuele. This year, California in January also included two wine specific events.

I again served as a Judge at the 2014 Winemaker’s Challenge in San Diego, California. I tasted many excellent wines, primarily from California, including two flights of Cabernet Sauvignon wines retailing for $75.00 to $100.00 and two flights of Cabernet Sauvignon wines retailing for $30.00 to $49.99.
In addition to getting to know other quality winemakers, I find judging at the Winemakers’ Challenge in January and the Atlantic Seaboard Competition in Washington, D.C. in July extremely beneficial. In a truncated period of time, these Competitions afford me a unique opportunity to taste a large number of wines. I record my tasting notes of the most memorable wines and often refer to them when blending Frogtown wines. Just think about it; I need to drink a lot of wine that is not made by me. Real tough job! By keeping my palate “open” to the taste of non-Frogtown wines, I am able to critically judge our wines better and prevent what is referred to as “cellar palate”. Of course, this only applies to the winemaker at Frogtown; it does not apply to Frogtown Citizens. Our Citizens must drink a lot of Frogtown wine, at the exclusion of other wines, for the well being of their favorite winery!

At the conclusion of the Winemaker’s Challenge Competition, Cydney and I flew to San Francisco and then to Sacramento for the 2014 Unified Grape Symposium. On the evening of January 28, 2014, we poured the 2009 Frogtown Petit Verdot to over 1,000 invited attendees by Wine Business Monthly, the major wine industry trade publication, who sponsored the Ten Hot Brands of 2013 event, which included Frogtown. The experience at the pouring was wonderful, but with so many attendees we did not get to spend a lot of time with any one individual. On the following day, we attended the Unified Trade Exposition. Many of the Exhibitors and those attending the trade show as winemakers, viticulturists, winery owners, managers and others in the wine trade went out of their way to engage Cydney and me and remark how much they enjoyed the 2009 Petit Verdot. Many favorably compared the Frogtown 2009 Petit Verdot to high quality Napa or Sonoma Petit Verdot and other wines made from Bordeaux grapes. This event was a very delightful and rewarding experience for Cydney and me. We just hate to hear wonderful comments about Frogtown wines.

Closing on Frogtown Adelaida in Paso Robles, California.

Cydney and I acquired on February 4, 2014 a magnificent 50-acre parcel in the new Paso Robles, California Adelaida AVA. With the acquisition and planting of this parcel, Frogtown’s winegrowing and winemaking activities expands to California. The new vineyard will be called Frogtown Adelaida.
Notice I said expands not transfers to. We have heard some silly, meaningless rumors that Cydney and I are selling Frogtown and moving to California. Heck, if we desired to exclusively make California wine and provide hospitality primarily to Californians, there would never have been a Frogtown in Georgia. No, our hearts and souls are here in Georgia where we have spent two-thirds of our lives working, raising our three wonderful children, and enjoying immensely our relationship with y’all, our Citizens.

Discussion on Frogtown Adelaida

The content of the soils at Frogtown Adelaida are highly calcareous and very hilly. The subsoil base is primarily limestone. Much has been written about the benefits of grape growing on limestone. Paso Robles is unique in the fact a significant portion of this geologic area is the only viticultural area in the United States containing such concentrated calcareous soils. Twelve soil pits were dug at Frogtown Adelaida to examine the characteristics of the soils across the entire planting area. One pit showed the calcareous content of the soil (as distinguished from the underlying limestone), being 65% calcareous. Special rootstocks are required to enable vines to flourish on these highly elevated calcareous soils.
It has been 15 years since I planted the first 10,000 vines on the Dahlonega Plateau. Over this 15-year period, dense vine plantings have become more in vogue. France has been at the forefront of dense vineyard plantings. Paso Robles, a relatively very young AVA and grape-growing region has enjoyed great success with dense vineyard plantings.

On this parcel, we will be planting over 47,600 vines, including, 20,000 Cabernet Sauvignon, 10,050 Petit Verdot, 5,000 Petite Sirah, 2,500 Merlot, 6,850 Cabernet Franc, 2,700 Malbec and 500 Carménère vines. These grape varieties should be readily recognizable by you, our Citizens, as Frogtown Adelaida, like Frogtown Dahlonega, will be substantially planted to Bordeaux varietals. There will be no white grape plantings at Frogtown Adelaida.

By comparison, Frogtown Dahlonega has 23,000 vines planted on approximately 40 acres (an average of 575 vines per acre) while Frogtown Adelaida will be planted to over 46,000 vines (an average of approximately 2,100 vines per acre).

Would we plant Dahlonega Frogtown differently if we were planting today on the Dahlonega Plateau? Not significantly different. Our macro climatic conditions and the micro conditions which we created at Frogtown with the highly successful use of an Open Lyre trellis system and vine row aspects which transverse a hill rather than running down the direction of the hill, would result, even in hindsight, with approximately the same number of vines per planted acre.

My present thoughts are to make very high quality 100% estate grown wines under a Frogtown Adelaida, Paso Robles, AVA Label from this vineyard and, additionally, use the fruit from Frogtown Adelaida as the California component for our American labeled Bordeaux blends, Compulsion, an East Coast West Coast Wine, and Convergence, a West Coast East Coast Wine. I also plan to use Frogtown Adelaida wines as a blending partner with Frogtown Dahlonega wines in the making of Frogtown’s Disclosure Label wines; the label we use to bottle varietals wines (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, etc.) under an American label. While I intend to make you excited about Frogtown Adelaida, it will be at least 4 years before grapes from this vineyard will find their way into a Frogtown bottle. I may decide to purchase some fruit in the interim from some Frogtown Adelaida neighbors and make wine while waiting for Frogtown Adelaida vineyards to mature.

With the advent of Frogtown Adelaida, an honest question arises: Is there any other winery in the U.S. offering more interesting and diverse wines than Frogtown?

There are wineries in California making California wines from different California AVA’s. V. Sattui Winery (1111 White Lane, St Helena, CA 94574 – 707.963.7774 – www.vsatturi.com), being a wonderful example of such a winery. Frogtown should be quite unique by offering terroir labeled wines from estate grown grapes farmed from two separate vineyard estates, one on the East Coast, and the second on the West Coast, and ethically labeled American Wine wines by blending wines grown from these two separate and very distinct terroir regions.

100% Terroir Estate wines from vines farmed on Georgia’s Dahlonega Plateau (hopefully soon to be an AVA)
100% Terroir Estate wines from vines farmed on the Adelaida AVA of the Paso Robles.

Ethically labeled American wines blended from 100% estate grown fruit from Frogtown’s separate and very distinct vineyard estates on both coasts of the U.S.

To provide more information about the new Paso Robles Adelaida AVA, I have provided below portions of a very well written blog by Tables Creek Vineyards, a fabulous vineyard and winery in the new proposed Adelaida AVA (9339 Adelaida Road Paso Robles CA 93446 – 805.237.1231 – www.tablascreek.com). Tables Creek Vineyards is located less than 3 miles from Frogtown Adelaida.

At the conclusion of reading this blog you will have a better understanding why an American Viticultural Area (AVA) is synonymous with the French word terroir!

“Celebrating 11 New AVA’s in Paso Robles

At long last, nearly seven years after it was submitted to the TTB (the Tax and Trade Bureau — the office of the federal government that oversees wine regulation) we received news this week that the petition from the Paso Robles wine community to establish eleven American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s) within the current Paso Robles AVA has been published for comments. This is the critical step called a “notice of proposed rulemaking” at which the TTB has reviewed all the geological, climatological and historical information presented in the petitions and determined that they pass muster. It doesn’t mean that the region can start using them on wine labels this week, but it’s an important validation of the proposed AVA’s and boundaries, and the last step before final approval.

For the Paso Robles region, the publication for review of our AVA petition is an important and necessary milestone. Paso Robles is currently the largest un-subdivided AVA within California at approximately 614,000 acres. By contrast, the Napa Valley appellation (which includes sixteen AVA’s delineated within its bounds) is roughly one-third the area at 225,000 acres. When the Paso Robles AVA was first proposed and approved back in 1983 it contained only five bonded wineries and less than 5000 planted acres of vineyard. Big swaths of the AVA, including the area out near us, were largely untouched by grapevines. In the last thirty years, Paso Robles has grown to encompass some 280 wineries and 32,000 vineyard acres. This vineyard acreage is spread over a sprawling district roughly 42 miles east to west and 32 miles north to south. Average rainfall varies from more than 30 inches a year in extreme western sections (like where Tablas Creek is) to less than 10 inches in areas farther east. Elevations range from 700 feet to more than 2400 feet. Soils differ dramatically in different parts of the AVA, from the highly calcareous hills out near us to sand, loam and alluvial soils in the Estrella River basin. The warmest parts of the AVA accumulate roughly 20% more heat (measured by growing degree days) than the coolest; the average year-to-date degree-days in the Templeton Gap since 1997 is 2498, while in Shandon far out east it’s 2956. This difference in temperatures is enough to make the cooler parts of the AVA a Winkler Region II in the commonly used scale of heat summation developed at UC Davis, while the warmest sections are a Winkler Region IV.

Our region’s diversity was well noted in the TTB’s ruling. In addition to the longhand descriptions of each region’s soils, climate and topography, the TTB included side-by-side comparative charts — unique, in my experience of AVA approvals — that detailed why each new AVA was worthy of being distinguished from its neighbors. I can’t imagine anyone reading these petitions and concluding that there weren’t grounds for subdivision.

All this is not to say that Paso Robles doesn’t share some important factors, and one important hurdle that the petitions had to clear was demonstrating that the region enjoyed sufficient macro-level similarity to remain an AVA. The TTB’s ruling recognized several characteristics that the entire region shares, including the 40-50 degree diurnal temperature variation, the relatively warm climate with limited incursion of marine air, and the moderate rainfall, less than the slopes of the coastal mountains but more than the arid Central Valley to our east.

The AVA system is so powerful exactly because it has the flexibility to recognize macro-level similarities as well as important micro-level distinctiveness.

One risk in the creation of new AVA’s within an existing one is that the existing AVA — into the marketing of which the local wineries have invested enormous amounts of time and money — will lose much of its significance as many wineries abandon that appellation name to make a name for their new, smaller one. Happily, Paso Robles won’t lose its identity — or the accumulated marketing capital we’ve all built over the last three decades — thanks to a conjunctive labeling law passed by the California assembly with the encouragement of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance in 2007. Conjunctive labeling means that wineries who choose to use one of the new AVA’s will also be required to use “Paso Robles” as significantly. This law was modeled on one passed for the Napa Valley in 1990 that has been widely credited with helping maintain Napa as the most powerful brand in American wine.

The continued presence of Paso Robles on wine labels does not diminish the impact of having the different AVA’s approved. These new AVA’s will be a powerful tool for wineries to explain why certain grapes are particularly well suited to certain parts of the appellation, and why some wines show the characteristics they do while other wines, from the same or similar grapes, show differently. Ultimately, the new AVA’s will allow these newly created sub-regions to develop identities for themselves with a clarity impossible in a single large AVA.

It’s worth pointing out that no one needs to use the new AVA’s. Wineries who wish to continue to use only the Paso Robles AVA are welcome to. And many will likely choose to do so as the new AVA’s build their reputation in the market. Not all the AVA’s have a critical mass of established wineries, and it seems likely that a handful of the new AVA’s will receive market recognition first, while the reputation of others will take time to build. But I believe that it will be several of the currently less-developed areas that will benefit most in the long term, through the ability to identify successful winemaking models and build an identity of their own. We shall see; having a newly recognized AVA is not a guarantee of market success, just a chance to make a name for yourself. The cream will rise to the top, and consumers will benefit.

Discussion of the 2010 Frogtown Intensity – First Bottling

I have wanted to make a Medoc based Bordeaux wine for some time that will be a Bordeaux blend mate to our Pomerol based Propaganda. The Intensity, being a Medoc-like wine is composed of principally Cabernet Sauvignon, with Malbec and Peitit Verdot playing a blending role. Note there is NO Merlot in our Intensity Bordeaux Blend. This is in contrast to the Merlot dominant Propaganda, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petit Verdot playing a blending role.

Unlike the 2010 Frogtown Touché, released to our Citizens in the December 2013 shipment and the 2010 Bravado, and the Shotgun Third Reload, released with this shipment, the 2010 Frogtown Intensity is somewhat of an enigma. It continues to exhibit bottle shock, after approximately 8 months of bottling. This does not detract from the enjoyment of this wine now; however six months of further bottle aging should be sufficient time for this wine to “get over” bottle shock.

One interesting feature of the 2010 Intensity is the substantial berry flavors at the beginning of the palate. In this manner the 2010 Intensity and the 2008 Audacity are very similar in their “early life” in the bottle. For those Citizens who enjoy this extra kick of fruit at the beginning, drinking Intensity now delivers this fruit sensation. As the 2010 Intensity ages, as was the case with the 2008 Audacity, this “extra” upfront fruit will gradually diminish. The “extra” upfront fruit should additionally aid the 2010 Intensity as it ages in the bottle. This wine should be long lived with more gradual loss of fruit as the wine enters the 5-6 year period after bottling (not vintage date).

The one common threat between the 2010 Intensity and the 2008 Audacity is a substantial amount of Cabernet Sauvignon (49% for the Intensity and 45% for the Audacity) contained in these blends. It could be that Frogtown wines with blends of a substantial amount of Cabernet Sauvignon have a wine quality character of a fruitier beginning palate than other Frogtown premium red wines. Interesting, this upfront fruit character does not appear in Frogtown Cabernet Sauvignon labeled varietal wines. Such wines contained 90% to 100% of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wines Included in this Shipment

All Red Citizens 

All Red Citizens will receive a bottle of the 2009 Frogtown Intensity ($33.99), described above, a bottle of the 2010 Frogtown Bravado ($27.99), and a bottle of Frogtown Shotgun, Third Reload ($26.99)
Very similar in mouthfeel to the 2010 Frogtown Touché that was sent as part of the December, 2013 shipment, the 2010 Bravado also exhibits a very supple beginning palate, that develops weight as the wine moves to the back of the palate and finishes with complex flavors of cherry and cassis from this Sangiovese, Tannat, and Cabernet Sauvignon blend. I also see a lot of similarities in the 2010 Bravado with the wonderful 2008 Bravado, with the 2010 being a little “fruitier”.

Not much that I can say about Frogtown Shotgun that hasn’t previously been said. I am sure that a number of our Citizens will tell me they like Second Reload better than Third Reload, in the same manner as many Citizens told be they liked First Reload better than Second Reload. To me the First and Second Reload were practically identical at bottling; the difference between tasting a fully resolved First Shotgun with bottle age as compared with a then newly bottled Second Reload was why some of you had the impression that First was better than Second.

There is a reason why we cannot more closely duplicate Shotgun year after year. It is a non-vintage wine. That is the reason for the first Shotgun being called “First Load”, then First Reload, the Second Reload, and now Third Reload. A non-vintage wine cannot be labeled with a vintage date. Make sense? Vintage dated wines, are more limited in blending options; the winemaker basically only has the wines from that vintage to blend into whatever blend the winemaker is putting together (there is a little bit of leeway, as vintage wines can contain up to 15% of another vintage).

All Red Citizens will receive a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost of these wines. With the addition of sales tax results in a cost for pick-up of this All Red Shipment being $76.15 and the addition of $12.00 shipping results in a cost for these wines shipped of $88.15.

Red and White

All Mixed Red and White Citizens are receiving a bottle of our 2010 Frogtown Intensity ($33.99), a bottle of our Frogtown Shotgun, Third Reload ($27.99), both referred to above, and a bottle of the 2011 Frogtown Reserve Chardonnay ($27.99).

The Frogtown Reserve Chardonnay was made in ½ neutral oak and ½ two year old barrels rather than new French oak. The wine was in barrel for 18 months. Notwithstanding the absence of new oak, the wine has lovely oak and malolactic fermentation aromas. On the palate, flavors of green apple and citrus are present with a long and rewarding finish. This is the first-ever white wine bottled under a Reserve Label!
Mixed Citizens will receive a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost of these wines. With the addition of sales tax results in a cost for pick-up of this Mixed Shipment being $76.99 and the addition of $12.00 shipping results in a cost for these wines shipped of $88.99.

All White Citizens 

All White Citizens are receiving a bottle of our 2011 Frogtown Reserve Chardonnay ($27.99) referred to above, a bottle of the 2012 Frogtown Disclosure Steel Chardonnay ($24.99), and a bottle of the 2011 Frogtown Viognier ($24.99)

The 2011 Frogtown Disclosure Steel Chardonnay is made from 100% fruit from the Dry Creek AVA. As I have mentioned in the past, all of Frogtown 2012 and 2013 (and possibly 2014) Chardonnay has been or will be sold to Wolf Mountain for their Georgia sparkling wine production. It was important to me that Wolf Mountain’s sparkling wine program remain 100% Georgia. While we love our own Chardonnay, I decided to replace a portion of what I sold to Wolf Mountain and make a Disclosure Steel Chardonnay and a Disclosure Barrel Fermented Chardonnay in 2012. The enclosed bottle of Disclosure Steel Chardonnay was fermented and aged in 100% steel. The wine never experienced the inside of an oak barrel. This is just a lovely, powerful Steel Chardonnay. In comparison to the steel Chardonnay made in the past with Frogtown Chardonnay grapes, this is a bigger more alcoholic wine. This Chardonnay has lovely apple, pear and grapefruit nose and palate that will stand up to the most hearty fish, even the oily non-flaky type of fish.

Enjoy, because purchasing Dry Creek Chardonnay grapes will only be a once in a while event.
The Viognier harvested in 2011 that found its way into the enclosed varietal bottling is very typical of the Viognier grapes grown at Frogtown. Relatively high in Brix, almost 24.5 Brix, this wine has a lovely glycerin quality that coats your mouth with lovely flavors of melon, honey, kiwi fruit, peach, with an overlaying citrus character. Yum! Try this Viognier with spicy Asian foods or Sushi.

All White Citizens will receive a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost of these wines. With the addition of sales tax results in a cost for pick-up of this All White shipment of $69.58 and the addition of $12.00 shipping results in a cost of these wines shipped of $79.58.

Cydney and I wish the very best to all our wonderful Citizens!!!!

Craig

SEPTEMBER ’13 WINEMAKER NOTES

Dear Frogtown Citizen:

National and International Recognition

As difficult a year as this has been for farming grapes on Georgia’s Dahlonega Plateau (see topic immediately below), the national and international recognition Frogtown received has made 2013 a most extraordinary and rewarding year. At the beginning of this year, I had no idea that:

(i) Frogtown would be designated a Super Star in the new publication American Wines by Jancis Robinson and Linda Murphy released in January 2013; and

(ii) I would be included as one of the 100 Most Influential U.S. Winemakers by Michael Cervin in his INTOWINE.COM Article (http://www.intowine.com/top-100-most-influential-us-winemakers)

Yes, even more extraordinary and rewarding by a wide margin than the 2 Silver Medals (2002 Frogtown Propaganda and 2002 Frogtown Touché) and one Bronze Medal (2002 Frogtown Tannat) Frogtown received in the 2004 San Francisco International Wine Competition (Frogtown’s second year of winemaking) and achieving the distinction, since 2010, as one of the most, if not the most, awarded winery, not located in the State of California, in Major U. S. Commercial Wine Competitions (mostly California competitions).

2013 Weather and Vineyard Conditions.

From January 1, 2013 through August 22, 2013, Frogtown’s vineyard received over 72 inches of rain, a good portion of which was received after bud break. This amount of rainfall results in over twice the amount for this period ever received by Frogtown since the inception of grape growing in 1999. It rained almost every day in May, June, July, and the beginning of August. Challenging is an understatement. Every day our vineyard mission was simply to focus our efforts in keeping Frogtown’s vine canopies open and as free of disease as possible until weather conditions improved in order to ripen Frogtown’s 2013 fruit. As the saying goes, hope springs internal. But just hoping was not the recipe for success in 2013. It took a herculean effort by our vineyard staff and an expenditure of twice the amount Frogtown usually experiences in the cost of spray materials to keep the vineyard in good condition and benefit from the change in the weather pattern which commenced on August 23, 2013, the day the constant barrage of daily rain stopped. From August 23, through the date of these Winemaker Notes, Frogtown vineyard received only 3.05 inches of rain. From August 23 to September 20, Frogtown received just 0.24 inches of rain!!!! These 28 days of virtually no rain, coupled with a very good fruit set, has virtually made (saved) the 2013 vintage. On September 21 and September 24 Frogtown received 1.08 and 0.19 inches of rain without much affect, but on September 25, 1.54 inches of rain fell on Frogtown as a moderate setback. If my friends in California received 2.81 inches of rain immediately before or during harvest their cries of anguish would be heard all the way to Georgia from California.

Completing this weather report, no rain has been received since September 25 and the weather going into the first week of October looks very favorable.

In addition to all the rain, 2013 spring and summer in North Georgia has been one of the coolest periods ever recorded.

So what is the bottom line on this 2013 vintage?

2013 is a year that will mature fruit at lower Brix than normal, but other quality parameters, including fruit flavor (lack of vegetal character), acid and skin and seed development are in fine balance. I think we have a very good vintage in progress, with the distinct possibility of a number of excellent gold medal wines.

Commencement of Harvest 2013

Harvest commenced on September 16; nearly two weeks later than normal.

The 2013 Vintage will be the “poster child” for what I have said for years: I can make Frogtown quality terroir wines from hydrated, relatively low Brix grapes; but I cannot make Frogtown quality terroir wines from grapes that lack ripeness and possess vegetal flavors. Georgia’s Dahlonega Plateau, being the southern most viticultural area on the East Coast, has again delivered us ripe succulent fruit in a most difficult vintage. It will now be up to me to apply the winemaking protocols Frogtown developed over the last 12 years to complete the journey to award-winning wines.
In my December 2013 Winemakers Notes I will review the 2013 harvest in more detail.

Tidbit of Interest About our Federal Government

The TTB, the Federal Agency that is part of Home Land Security (the old federal alcohol and tobacco agency became part of the Department of Home Land Security), requires all wine labels to be approved prior to sale. During the last year, as a result of the design modifications to our labels, Cydney has been submitting and obtaining label approval for what is now 28 Frogtown labeled wines. While this process has been progressing well, I mentioned to Cydney to include on the back of one of the new labels “absolutely no sugar is added to our finished wines.” The TTB rejected our application and refused to approve this label. Since the design and wording of this label was the same for labels previously approved other than the above wording, Cydney asked the TTB why the label was not approved. The explanation from the TTB was that the wording: “absolutely no sugar is added to our finished wines” is disparaging to other wineries that do add sugar to their finished wines. Wow! My almost 30 years of practicing law says: jump all over that. My 14 years of grape growing and wine makings says: most interesting.

Adelaida.

As many of you know, Cydney and I have been investigating and searching for California vineyard land to purchase and develop. Knowing me, Cydney agreed that having a California vineyard would facilitate us visiting, on a more consistent basis, the most beautiful and absolutely the most talented Winemaker in California and to continue our efforts to thoroughly spoil this Winemaker’s two beautiful and enchanting young daughters.

Along the way, my aforesaid Winemaking daughter, Jordan, introduced me to Daniel Daou a winemaker and winery owner in Paso Robles. Daniel and I have become very good friends. Knowing of my interest, Daniel offered to sell me a parcel he and his wife Robin purchased for their home and the development of a 25-acre vineyard. This parcel was purchase by Daniel and Robin after Daniel began the development of Daou Vineyards and Winery in the Adelaida section of Paso Robles (possibly, soon to be a separate Paso Robles AVA). This 50-acre parcel, also located in the Adelaida section of Paso Robles, is now under contract to Cydney and me. More about this expansion of Frogtown and Adelaida grape growing in future Winemaker Notes.

The world of winemaking is really small. Daniel Daou and a number of the winemakers I judge with at the Winemakers Challenge Competition in San Diego are also included in Michael Cervin’s list of the 100 Most Influential U.S. Winemakers.

What Wines to Expect in the Coming Months

All of the Frogtown Red wines we are going to produce in 2010 and the remaining 2011 and 2012 Frogtown White wines have been bottled during this calendar year and will be ready for release. The December 2013, February 2014, and May 2014 Wine Club shipments will be fulfilled from these wines. Such wines include:

Red Wines

2010 Frogtown Touché
2010 Frogtown Intensity
Frogtown NV Applause, Second SO
2010 Frogtown Bravado
Frogtown Shotgun NV, Third Reload
2010 Frogtown Norton
2010 Frogtown Disclosure Merlot
2010 Frogtown Touriga
2010 Frogtown Reserve Tannat
2010 Frogtown Sangiovese

White Wines

2012 Frogtown Vineaux Blanc
2012 Frogtown Petit Manseng
2012 Frogtown Sauvignon Blanc
2012 Frogtown Disclosure Steel Chardonnay
2011 Frogtown Family Reserve Chardonnay
2011 Frogtown Viognier

The 2010 Frogtown Sangiovese has been previously released and included as one of the wines in this Shipment. The 2011 Frogtown Reserve Chardonnay is the first time Frogtown has bottled a white wine under a Reserve designation. This Chardonnay was fermented and aged in 5+ year-old neutral oak barrels for 18 months. This is my style of Chardonnay, very Burgundian, with slight nuances of oak and 100% malolactic fermentation. Our 2002 Frogtown Chardonnay was also made in a Burgundian style. From 2003 though 2010, our Barrel fermented Chardonnay’s have been made in a California style in 100% new French oak. It will be interesting to hear your comments on this Reserve Chardonnay.

The 2010 Frogtown Reserve Tannat is the first bottling of a Tannat varietal as a Reserve designation.

The 2010 Frogtown Intensity is a new label containing the Bordeaux varietals Cabernet Sauvignon (49%), Petit Verdot (22%), and Malbec (29%). This is a Medoc, Cabernet Sauvignon dominant, Bordeaux style wine in contrast to our Frogtown Propaganda, a Pomerol, Merlot dominant, Bordeaux style wine. Petit Verdot and Malbec were later plantings at Frogtown. I am very pleased with this our first Frogtown Intensity.

Being a “Bordeaux Guy”, if you think of our recent 2009 Reserve Cabernet Franc as a Cabernet Franc dominant, Saint Émilion, Bordeaux style wine, we now have made red wines in the style of the Cabernet Sauvignon dominant Medoc, the Merlot dominant Pomerol, and the Cabernet Franc dominant Saint Émilion.

2013 Harvest Day with Craig. What happened on the 21st of September? IT RAINED! Our Citizens picked Marsanne and Roussanne grapes IN THE RAIN. Actually, SINGING IN THE RAIN. It was fun and no one seemed concerned about the rain. Saturday was a full day of picking grapes, processing grapes, and lots of wonderful food (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and, of course, wine. Knowing rain was coming, I picked 9 tons of Sangiovese the day before Harvest Day. So the 1.8 tons of Marsanne and Roussanne plus the 9 tons of Sangiovese kept us busy. On Sunday we had another Harvest Day with Craig, harvesting .7 tons of Moscato grapes. We kept these grapes in cold storage until Monday when we harvested the rest of the Moscato and processed all the Moscato grapes. Since Harvest Day 2013 was a relatively small harvest of 2.5 tons in total, I decided to contribute $500.00 to the Wounded Warriors Project instead of the smaller amount resulting from the normal contribution of two dollars for each harvested bucket of grapes. Through your efforts, Harvest Day with Craig has resulted in over $2,000.00 to date being contributed to the Wounded Warriors Project.

Wines Included in this Shipment.

All Red Citizens will receive a bottle of the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon ($33.99), a bottle of the 2008 Frogtown Touriga Nacional ($35.99), and a bottle of the 2010 Frogtown Sangiovese ($20.99). The following is information on the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2008 Touriga:

2009 Frogtown Cabernet Sauvignon. 2009 was an unusual vintage at Frogtown. The year was very rainy at bud break and fruit set. Because of the early rain the decision was made to drop over one-half of the set fruit in May and June. The weather then cleared for July, August and the first 15 days in September. As a result of the lighter fruit load on our vines, all our fruit was harvested by September 15th with the exception of the Cabernet Sauvignon. We then experienced over 20 inches of rain from the 16th till the 25th of September. The Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested over the last 5 days in September. It really was somewhat of a surprise (perhaps “miracle”) that the Cabernet Sauvignon developed so well in barrel. Our 2009 Cabernet wine became a major blending partner in the 2009 Frogtown Propaganda, the 2009 Frogtown Audacity, Applause, First Standing Ovation, and the wonderful 2009 Frogtown Petit Verdot. The remaining Cabernet Sauvignon became this varietal bottling which is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Bottled after 36 months in oak, we have waited over a year since bottling to release this 2009 Frogtown Cabernet. Not yet submitted to any competition.

2008 Frogtown Touriga Nacional. The last of the varietals bottled from the 2008 vintage. This Touriga spent 30 months in oak and almost 2 years in the bottle before this release. In June of this year, our 2008 Frogtown Touriga received a Gold Medal at the 2013 Critics Challenge International, San Diego California. This is a great bottle of wine. On the nose you will experience complex aromas of violets and flowers. In your mouth, from the front palate through the long lingering velvet finish, you will then experience complex powerful deep full-bodied dark berry flavors on the palate.

The regular retail cost of these wines, without sales tax is $90.97. All red Citizens will receive a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost of these wines to $72.77 before sales tax. The addition of sales tax results in a cost for pick-up of $77.86 and the addition of $12.00 shipping results in a cost for these wines shipped of $89.86.

Mixed Red and White Citizens are receiving a bottle of our 2009 Frogtown Cabernet Sauvignon ($33.99), a bottle of our 2008 Frogtown Touriga ($35.99), referred to above, and a bottle of the 2011 Frogtown Sauvignon Gris ($19.99). As compared to other Frogtown Sauvignon Gris bottled in the past, the 2011 Frogtown Sauvignon Gris contains 15% Sauvignon Blanc grapes. The addition of the Sauvignon Blanc grapes to this Sauvignon Gris labeled wine results in a more elegant, complex white wine but with the intensity of the Sauvignon Gris grape. This 2011 Frogtown Sauvignon Gris received a Silver Medal at the 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

The regular retail cost of these wines, without sales tax is $89.97. Mixed Citizens will receive a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost of these wines to $71.97 before sales tax. The addition of sales tax results in a cost for pick-up of $77.01 and the addition of $12.00 shipping results in a cost for these wines shipped of $89.01.

All White Citizens are receiving a bottle of our 2011 Frogtown MRV ($24.99), a bottle of the 2009 Frogtown Viognier ($24.99), and a bottle of the 2009 Frogtown Roussanne ($20.99).
This All White shipment is an all-Rhone Valley white wine shipment. Would have loved to have included the three-time Gold Medal winning 2009 Marsanne, but our Citizens have purchased the last bottle of this Marsanne long ago. I recently tasted the 2009 Roussanne and 2009 Viognier and believe these bottles have never tasted better. The MRV is a deep colored white wine due to its 18-month aging in neutral oak. Although deep in color, this wine is without any oxidized aromas or flavors.

The regular retail cost of these wines, without sales tax is $70.97. All White Citizens will receive a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost of these wines to $56.77 before sales tax. The addition of sales tax results in a cost for pick-up of $60.74 and the addition of $12.00 shipping results in a cost of these wines shipped of $72.74

With Best Wishes to all our Citizens, Craig

MAY ’13 WINEMAKER NOTES

Dear Frogtown Citizen

Significant Development in Recognition of the High Quality of Frogtown Wines.

Cydney and I are very proud to inform you, our Citizens, Frogtown has been designated a Superstar by Jancis Robinson and Linda Murphy in their new publication “American Wine” first published this year, 2013!!! Jancis Robinson is THE most respected internationally recognized wine writer in the world. She has authored The World Atlas of Wine, The Oxford Companion to Wine and Wine Grapes. She holds a Master of Wines designation. I have all of these books in my library. I looked to Jancis Robinson’s Wine Grapes, as an important aid to selecting the various grape varieties planted at Frogtown. Paraphrasing Jancis Robinson and Linda Murphy, on pages 244 and 245 of American Wines, the following is said about Frogtown, after declaring Frogtown a Superstar: “Craig and Cydney Kritzer opened Frogtown in 1999 and now grow twenty-five different varieties [of wine grapes]. Their Propaganda wine, a Bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot, has wowed West Coast critics and sommeliers; Audacity, a Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon Blend, …. is a dead ringer for a Super Tuscan from Italy?”! By sure coincidence, I am sending to our All Red and Mixed Red and White Citizens a bottle of Frogtown’s 2008 and 2009 vintages of Propaganda with this shipment. In February, these Citizens received a bottle of the 2009 Frogtown Audacity.

Vineyard Update

There is only one-way to describe our spring 2013 – cool (sometimes downright cold) and rainy! I will take cool/cold/ rainy any spring over frost, particularly the three frosts we experienced in spring 2012. Our grape vines never totally recovered from these 2012 frosts, resulting in the lowest yields we ever experienced at Frogtown. We had the coolest March Frogtown has ever experienced in 2013 and the most rain in the period January 1 through May 25. The following are rain amounts and number of days for each of 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 vintage years:

While most years we can expect rain in the mid-20 inches for this period of January 1 through May 25, this year we received 40 inches, more than a 150% increase over normal. But most significantly look at the number of days of rain and the percentage of rain per day. 2013’s number of rain days was not “out of line” with the past, but the amount of rain Frogtown received per rain day was significantly higher. The winter and spring of 2013 is like what was historically experienced in Georgia many years ago. In 2013 a rainy day was usually rain for the whole day. This constant all-day rain is not typical what we experienced since the vineyard was started in 1999.

The cool/cold March and April has been good for setting the fruitfulness of our primary buds. This was evident in a really good even bud break this year. Bud break was at least a week later than “normal”. As I write these Notes, our Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Chambourcin, and D Field Seyval are commencing flowering. After flowering fruit set occurs.
The weather professionals (can you believe them) tell us the weather for the next 10 days will be ideal for flowing and fruit set. It is projected that the rainy cool temperatures will cease and some relatively warm and dry days are forecasted. Such weather is exactly what is required for excellent fruit set (i.e. yields and vine balance). Will we get this weather? And if we get this weather in the next 10 days, what about the weather after the next 10 days when most of our red wine grapes set their fruit?

I have been spending a considerable amount of my time mowing and spraying herbicide. The cool temperatures and rain is just what the grass and weeds want in spring. The rest of our “vineyard” crew have been eliminating 40 to 50 percent of the vine shoots, which represents approximately 35 to 40 percent of the fruit clusters developed at bud break; cleaning the trunks and arms of shoots, positioning the shoots in our trellises and completing our new plantings, including placing grow tubes on our new vines. So, by default, it was up to me to do the lion’s share of mowing and weed killing in the vine rows. If we do not stay on top of the mowing and spraying during the spring, the weeds will take hold in the vine rows and our vineyard will not be as picturesque as I want. So far the vineyard looks great, probably the best since the early days.

New Construction

We have completed construction of the new Wedding Ceremony Pavilion between vineyard rows in our lower B Block vineyard next to the lake. We will meet at this new Pavilion for our June 2nd Soiree. For those of you planning on attending the June 2nd Soiree, be prepared! We will discuss these Notes as they relate to the discussions on mouthfeel and Propaganda below. I plan on putting y’all to work in a lively discussion, but no testing or grading. Wow, being a Frogtown Citizen not only means no taxation but also no test taking!

We have commenced construction of our Hahira tasting room at Exit 29 at Interstate 75.

Upcoming Calendar Items

In reviewing the 2013 Frogtown Events Calendar, you will notice there is a Georgia Fine Wine Alliance scheduled at Frogtown on August 17, 2013. I think the summer Georgia Fine Wine Alliance dinner at Wolf Mountain will occur either on the 31st of August or the 7th of September. The first Georgia Fine Wine Alliance Dinners were exceptional wine and food pairings. Make reservations early for the August 17th dinner. We were oversubscribed for the spring Georgia Fine Wine Alliance dinner at Frogtown.

Select Discussion of Mouthfeel in Red Wine

To me, mouthfeel is the most significant characteristic separating good from not so good wine and great wine from very good wine.

The attention Frogtown gives to mouthfeel is very significant and primarily a function of:
(i)Harvesting ripe succulent fruit.

(ii) The selection of yeasts, application of certain fermentation protocols adopted by Frogtown, and utilization of certain fermentation aids during the relatively short period of time alcohol fermentation occurs.

[In addition to the above, with regard to WHITE wines made by Frogtown, a third function is applied]:

(iii) Decisions during and immediate after white wine fermentation; whether or not to (i) put white wines through malolactic fermentation (all red wines go through this conversion of malolactic acid to lactic acid, a much more gentle form of acid) and/or (ii) subject white wines to lees stirring (red wines are never lees stirred and most white wine lees stirring is relegated to barrel fermented Chardonnay wines.

No discussion of this third function of white winemaking will be discussed in these Notes. I plan of discussing the topics of lees stirring and malolactic fermentation in the future. The elimination of this third topic results in the remainder of these Notes focusing on the discussion of mouthfeel as it relates to RED wines.

OK so what is “mouthfeel” in RED wine?

There is no reason why wine should have a harsh tactile sensation or texture. If wines exhibit these characteristics, such wines are just mediocre or bad wines. The mouthfeel descriptors for such wine are astringent, harsh, lip puckering, sour, acidic. It is the description of the “dark side” of wine. Such wines are also unbalanced and do not possess pleasing aroma and flavors. We would never think of bottling and selling such a wine at Frogtown; so there is no need to discuss these negative tactile sensations.

So in its most rudimentary form, good mouthfeel is equivalent to wines that are not harsh, overly acidic, astringent, or sour in the mouth. Simply put “good” mouthfeel is the major ingredient of good wine and usually the precursor to a balanced wine.

In my preparation of wine-tasting notes for the wines I make, the following descriptors have been used in the description of Frogtown wines: big, bold, full, supple, round, rich, lush, sweet, tannic, and chewy. These tactile, textural descriptors of wine all relate to the general sensation of the wine in the mouth (i.e. mouthfeel). Notice that the descriptors above are not normally used in connection with flavors or aromas which are a separate and distinct component of wine tasting.
Other than the decisions made at Frogtown concerning oak aging, I pay no attention to the flavors and aromas of Frogtown wines. Such flavors and aromas develop naturally in due course during the period after fermentation is completed and prior to bottling (usually 2 to 3 years for reds).
Now let’s put the above two primarily functions of mouthfeel in Frogtown red wine together.

Harvest – there is simply no substitute for fully ripe grapes in winemaking. Growing wine grapes on the southerly side of the Dahlonega Plateau is the most significant ingredient in Frogtown’s success in making premium and ultra premium wines in Georgia. We ripen our fruit, including Cabernet Sauvignon, the most difficult of the premium red wine grapes to ripen. Our vineyard location gives our vines the longest growing period on the East Coast. Our long growing season is similar to many of the premiere wine growing regions of the world.

If red wine tannins are harsh and angular at the fermentation tank resulting from what is delivered to the winery during harvest, there is very little a winemaker can do to deliver good mouthfeel without stripping the wine by employing protocols of fining, racking, filtering or havens, should we say the word – adding sugar to a finished “dry” wine in very small amounts that only assist in mouthfeel. So to achieve big supple tannins RIPE fruit is needed. Tannin maturation is the last element in red grape ripening. Tannins can be big and supple, as is the case in Frogtown’s Bordeaux varietals and Tannat and Touriga based wines.

Yeast and Fermentation Protocols – Frogtown has experimented making red wine (i) with over twenty-five different yeasts, (ii) employing many different protocols at various intensities, and (ii) used fermentation aids in various proportions. This is an arduous task since only very small wine batches are made with different yeasts, protocols, and fermentation aids. Glad these experiments are behind me. Only rarely, if new yeast becomes available or I want to “tinker” with one or more of our fermentation protocols or fermentation aids, do I experiment with such yeast or modified protocols or fermentation aids. Are fermentation protocols, fermentation aids, and yeast important in fermentation for mouthfeel development? Yes, yes, and yes.

What are fermentation aids? Over the last 10 plus years fermentation aids have been developed by the relatively few (mostly European) manufactures of fermentation products (yeasts, fining agents, and the new fermentation aids) though years of significant experimentation. These fermentation aids are in the nature of natural by-products of yeasts and refined natural tannin additions. Frogtown has utilized these new products to a limited extent. Do these fermentation aids affect mouthfeel? I believe there is only an upside to these fermentations aids; they are natural products and our own trails demonstrate the positive effect on mouthfeel.

Please focus on this: there is a tremendous difference between adding an aid at fermentation and adding an aid (fining element) to finished wine. When “wine” is only grape juice, skins, and seeds or new wine (immediately after fermentation ceases), additions and protocols like long pump overs, extended, extend macerations, natural tannin and yeast product additions, as fermentation aids, are significantly less invasive than additions to finished wine during the wine aging process or before bottling.

After the conclusion of fermentation, the aging of red wine in oak barrels is the only significant winemaking protocol that affects the mouthfeel of our wines. Frogtown style of non-invasive winemaking means NO wine is racked during oak aging and NO wine, is fined with milk or animal by products in aid of creating (modifying) the mouthfeel of our wines. Only white wines are filtered.
During many tastings of red (or white) wines that I conduct here at Frogtown a wine taster will comment that [blank] Frogtown wine taste sweeter than [blank] Frogtown wine. Since all Frogtown wines are dry, generally registering the lowest levels of residual sugar (most are less than .005% residual sugar), why do these tasters use a descriptor of “sweet” when describing a wine that has no sugar? There is an association between tactile, textural mouthfeel elements and the perception of sweetness. Since Frogtown does not add even a minute amount of sugar to a Frogtown labeled finished wine and none of the fermentation aids contain sugar, where does the perceived “sweetness” come from? Balance and Mouthfeel. A balanced dry wine is very difficult to achieve since the easiest way to balance the sensation of acid is to add sugar. Ask the German winemakers. What aids the sensation of balance in a completely dry wine is Mouthfeel. Good mouthfeel helps “balance” the tactile experience of wine touching the inside of the wine drinker’s mouth and aids in giving a sweet effect to the wine which beneficially aids in the perception of acid and tannin. Sweet without sugar. This perception (appearance) of sweetness varies between different wines. Alcohol, which is derived from sugar, also has a sweet taste. The right yeasts and fermentation aids “help” enhance the sweetness of alcohol, particularly in relatively “high alcohol wines” (at 13.0% and higher) and therefore the overall perception of sweet. Most Frogtown wines contain this higher range of alcohol.

Discussion of Propaganda Wines.

The most significant development in Frogtown’s Propaganda wines appears under the first heading of these Notes. Bordeaux styles wines are made all over the world. It is very special if an American Bordeaux style red wine achieves recognition from someone of the stature of Jancis 
Robinson.
I have written a number of times about our Propaganda wines in past Winemaker Notes. I was an active purchaser of Bordeaux wines during the period of my life when I practiced law. I studied the different Bordeaux Regions and Châteaux’s. I became most impressed with the Merlot grape. I was enamored with the red wines made in the Pomerol Region of Bordeaux. These full-bodied wines were particularly seductive. Interesting, of all the Bordeaux grapes grown at Frogtown, our Merlot based wines are the most compelling and yes, seductive in my opinion. We have been blessed with not only premium Merlot, but also premium Cabernet Sauvignon grapes which, when blended with Merlot, render a significantly “Bordeaux like” wine. Merlot, the most significant grape variety in Propaganda is Frogtown’s equivalent to a Pomerol wine from Bordeaux France.

In 2008 we blended a relatively small amount (5%) of Petit Verdot into our 2008 Propaganda. In 2009, in addition to 5% Petit Verdot we blended 5% Malbec into our Propaganda.
The 2008 and 2009 vintages of Propaganda definitely are recognizable as Frogtown Propaganda wines. The 2008 vintage is much more developed at this time than the 2009 vintage of Propaganda. Both of these two Propaganda wines are “babies” in the world of Propaganda wine. Courtesy of one of our Citizens, Cydney and I recently enjoyed a bottle of the fantastic and memorable 2002 Frogtown Propaganda. It is aging very gracefully since this wine was harvested and made into wine 11 years ago.

It will be interesting to drink these two vintages of Propaganda side by side as these wines develop in the bottle.

Wines Included in the Shipment.

All Red Citizens – will receive a bottle of the 2008 Frogtown Propaganda, a bottle of the 2009 Propaganda, and a bottle of Applause, FSO. The regular retail cost of these wines, without sales tax is $89.97. After applying your Citizens discount, the cost of these wines plus sales tax is $77.01 for pick-up and $89.01 with the $12.00shipping cost added.

Mixed Red and White Citizens – will receive a bottle the 2008 Frogtown Propaganda, a bottle of the 2009 Propaganda, and a bottle of the Frogtown 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. The regular retail cost of these wines, without sales tax is$87.97. After applying your Citizens discount, the cost of these wines plus sales tax is $75.30 for pick-up and $87.30 with the $12.00 shipping cost added.
All White Citizens – will receive a bottle of the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, a bottle of the 2011 Vineaux Blanc, and a bottle of the 2011 Vineaux Rose. The regular retail cost of these wines, without sales tax is $53.97. After applying your Citizens discount, the cost of these wines plus sales tax is $46.19 for pick-up and $58.19 with the $12.00 shipping cost added.

Hope to see all of our Citizens soon at the Winery.

Best to All of our Citizens, Craig


FEBRUARY ’13 WINEMAKER NOTES

Dear Frogtown Citizen:

Calendar of Events

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

Citizen Soirées

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

Harvest Day with Craig

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

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

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

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

The program for the 21st is as follows:

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

 

The program for the 22nd is as follows:

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

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

Vineyard Update

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

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

New Construction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wines Included in this Shipment.

All Red Citizens

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

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

Red and White

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

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

All White Citizens

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

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

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

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

With Best Wishes to all our Citizens, Craig

MAY ’11 WINEMAKER NOTES

Dear Frogtown Citizen:

From February 27, 2011, the date of my Winemaker Notes accompanying the February shipment until May 4, 2011, Frogtown vineyard experienced somewhat cooler temperatures and more rain than is customary for spring. Bud break was uncharacteristically even (which is good). I was very pleased we did not experience an early frost after bud break.

Mother Nature gave us a very late unwanted surprise. Early in the morning on Thursday, May 5, 2011 we incurred a radiation frost with a low temperature of 29.5 Degrees Fahrenheit and the dew point at 30.5% Fahrenheit. A radiation frost occurs when the winds are less than 5 mph and the sky is clear. With no cloud cover to keep the temperature from radiating upward, the temperature at or near the ground is cooler than the temperature 50 to 100 feet above the ground. Frost occurs when the dew point is equal to or lower than the ambient temperature at or near the ground.

To fight this frost, we built over 50 fires, ran our Wind Machine and operated our Frost Dragon from approximately 4:00am until 7:30am. With all grape varieties having broken bud three to four weeks prior to this frost every grape vine (23,000) in the entire vineyard was exposed to losing new growth leaves and fruit clusters.

As I write these Notes, it appears Frogtown did suffer frost damage to our vines planted on the lowest elevations but not severely. Our frost fighting was much more successful than I envisioned in the early hours of Thursday.

Competition Results Through the Date of These Winemaker Notes.

The 2011 San Diego International Wine Competition results are exceptional. When you consider that all of our SDIWC awarded wines were bottled within four months of the date of this competition, the results are surprisingly exceptional. Robert Whitley, one of America’s premier wine writers and critics (and the Director of the SDIWC) has written a blog on Frogtown dated May 6, 2011. To review this blog please go to winereviewonline.com and see Georgia on My Mind.

The results at the 2011 Finger Lakes Competition reflect the fact the submitted wines, other than the gold medal winning 2008 Frogtown Sangiovese, were generally “in the bottle” for only 6 to 8 weeks prior to this competition. At Frogtown, white wines require 3 to 4 months to “get over” bottle shock and red wines require 4 to 9 months to fully “recover” from the bottling process. We did not want to miss this competition in 2011 so the wines were sent knowing the submitted wines were not at their best for this competition.

Since we did not enter the Dallas Morning Star Competition in 2010 (entry date just got away from us), we submitted a few 2010 competition wines, along with Compulsion. If you go on line and look at the gold medals awarded Chardonnay wines, it will be evident that winning a Gold Medal at Dallas for Chardonnay is a substantial accomplishment. Frogtown 2008 Chardonnay is at its best. Really enjoyed winning this Gold Medal at Dallas.

We just received the results of the Tasters Guild International Wine Competition (a new competition this year). We won 17 medals, 2 Gold, 6 Silver, and 9 Bronze Medals
We have already sent wines to the Critics Challenge (a new competition this year), the Los Angles International Wines & Spirits Competition, the Long Beach Grand Cru Wine Competition, and the San Francisco International Wine Competition. These competitions take place from the middle of May through the end of July.

In additional to these 4 competitions Frogtown wines will be sent to the Atlantic Seaboard Competition (wines only from states that border the Atlantic Ocean are tasted at this competition) held in late July, the Sommelier Competition (a new competition this year) held in early September, and the last competition will be the invited Jefferson Cup Competition (Frogtown is one of approximately 300 wineries who are invited to this annual competition) held in November.

Frogtown is off to a wonderful start to the 2011 Competition with 38 medals. We believe we could achieve over 60 Medals from competitions this year!

Discussion on the Grapes and Wines in This Shipment.

Propaganda

It really has not been that long (13 years) since I was sitting in my law office preparing trademark registrations for the first three names selected for our intended wine growing and wine making venture. “Frogtown” was to be the brand name; “Inclination” was to be a premium white wine blend of the three French Rhone Valley white grapes (Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne), and “Propaganda” was to be the premium red wine label. Our winery is Frogtown; we make a very successful wonderful white wine label called Inclination but this wine is not made from the three white Rhone grapes (it is a Chardonnay blend with Vidal and Viognier); and well Propaganda is Propaganda.

No wine intimidates me more than making Propaganda. Why? Propaganda must possess the wine characteristics and quality which all of us expect from a Propaganda wine regardless of the vintage. Being a wonderful red Bordeaux Blend is not sufficient. It must be Propaganda.

Anatomy of Propaganda.

As many of you know, while practicing law I collected over 3,000 bottles of wine. 90% of the wine bottles collected were red Bordeaux. I became quite knowledgeable about the Bordeaux communes and the different wines made in Bordeaux. Only about 5% of the wines I collected were California Cabernets, Merlots, or “Meritage” wines. My palate was definitely French Bordeaux. I was most attracted to the wines from the Medoc commune of St. Julien, located on the left bank of the River Gironde, and the Pomerol Region, located on the right bank of the River Gironde.

Although St. Julien wines have the reputation of requiring longer-term aging than other Medoc communes, I always experience a rather elegant, rich and gentle characteristic from the wines of this appellation even when fairly young. But of all the Bordeaux appellations, the wines of Pomerol were seductive. These wines were very full-bodied, fruity, opulent and rich with a very supple, smooth mouth feel.

Yes, I was aware that the St. Julien appellation was principally planted to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape and the Pomerol appellation was principally planted to the Merlot grape, but these were just words until I started growing and making wine.

Frogtown’s vineyards soils range from a sandy clay loam to a clay sandy loam. At the time I was selecting the grape varieties and the locations for planting the grapes I selected, I revisited the information published about the vineyards and wines of Pomerol. It was very interesting to find this region’s soils being principally clay for the higher elevation Chateaus; including the vineyards of Petrus, the most famous and highest priced of all Pomerol wines.

The most compelling of the Bordeaux varieties planted at Frogtown is Merlot. In many vintages, our Merlot grapes produce the most full-bodied red wines made at Frogtown, exhibiting very ripe flavors and ripe round and plentiful tannins. It is the ripening of these tannins in our Merlot that results in what I believe to be the most compelling attribute of these wines. While full-bodied and intense, our Merlot delivers a lush supple mouth feel on the palate. It is just yummy.

So with Pomerol and clay soils in mind, Propaganda evolved into a primarily Merlot (more than 50%) based wine with varying percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon to give the wine more structure and finish. Our 2002 Propaganda and 2004 Family Reserve Cabernet are the best wines we ever produced. Not far behind is our 2005 Propaganda, the most recent vintage of Propaganda before our 2008 Propaganda, and our 2006 Family Reserve Merlot.

In 2004 we blended about 12% Cabernet Franc into our Propaganda. While making a wonderful Bordeaux styled wine, I did not feel the Cabernet Franc added anything to Propaganda. In 2005 I went back to the 2002 vintage of Propaganda and used only Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in this vintage of Propaganda. No Propaganda was made from the 2006 or 2007 vintages.

For the 2008 vintage of Propaganda, in my blending trials I did “tinker” with the various blends by not only varying the different percentages of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and the selection of barrels but, with most care and attention, putting a small amount of Petit Verdot into some of the blends. In 2002 and 2005 we did not have any Frogtown Petit Verdot to blend into a Propaganda wine. In 2008 we had our first harvest of Petit Verdot, enabling the referenced blending trials. Unlike Cabernet Franc, I was pleased to discover that Petit Verdot did in fact add to each of the Propaganda blending trials containing Petit Verdot. The 2008 Propaganda contains 5% Petit Verdot and 25 % Cabernet Sauvignon supporting the remaining 70% Merlot.

My impression after making four vintages of Propaganda and five vintages of a varietal labeled Merlot wine, including the 2006 Family Reserve Merlot, the upper limit of Merlot in Propaganda appears to be in the lower 70% range. Propaganda needs the structure of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot in the 30% range to be Propaganda.

I find the 2008 Propaganda to be very similar to the 2005 Propaganda when left open for a few hours. While the wine is lovely presently, I would suggest drinking the wine after an additional 3 months in the bottle. It would be preferable to leave the wine at room temperature (72 Degrees Fahrenheit) to assist in its recovery from the bottling process. We will not send 2008 Propaganda to competition until 2012.

All Red and Mixed Red and White Citizens are receiving a bottle of the 2008 Propaganda in this shipment.

Touriga

Mixed Red and White Citizens are receiving a bottle of 2007 Touriga in this shipment. This club wine was sent to our all Red Citizens in the February shipment. In my February 27, 2011 Notes, I said the following about the Touriga grape and our 2007 Frogtown Touriga:

“I am excited to enclose to our all red Citizens our first offering of a varietal Frogtown Touriga Nacional. From our “lost” vintage of 2007 (frost contributing to a loss of 90% of our grapes in 2007), this is an interesting wine.

The Touriga Nacional grapes are some of the smallest grapes we grow. The “tiny” berries of Touriga Nacional have a relatively high skin to pulp ratio. This characteristic makes Touriga Nacional wines very intense in all respects. Intensity of aroma and flavor can be a good way to describe Touriga Nacional wines. Like many of the red grapes grown at Frogtown, Touriga Nacional is somewhat spicy with dark fruit flavors of blueberries and blackberries. But Touriga is distinctly and uniquely different in its offering of these blueberry and blackberry flavors. This uniqueness makes Touriga an ideal blending partner with Tannat (another dark blueberry/blackberry wine with hints of spice grown in our Estate vineyards). The blending of Touriga Nacional and Tannat, along with Cabernet Franc, results in our Shotgun gold medal winning wines.

This 2007 offering of Frogtown Touriga is a very dark full-bodied wine. There are many reasons to grow and blend Touriga into wine. For me the most compelling reasons for growing and producing Touriga wine is the purple violet nose of these wines and the deep, deep color and bright berry flavors. The violet nose on our Shotgun wines gives no hint of the flavor of this wine when drunk. It is almost a complete disconnect between the aroma on the nose to the aroma and taste once the wine is in your mouth. This violet aroma on the nose is present in this 2007 Touriga Nacional. This is an intensely aromatic wine with supple tannins and a long lingering finish. You will not find the earthy characteristics of Shotgun in this wine. It exhibits more bright intense fruit than our Shotgun wine.”

Bravado

Bravado is a Super Tuscan wine containing 60% Sangiovese, 25 % Tannat and 15 % Cabernet Franc. In my December 2009 Wine Maker Notes, I discuss the Sangiovese Grape and the relatively new Super Tuscan wines in connection with the club shipment of our 2008 Frogtown Audacity.

The 2008 Bravado won a major Gold Medal at the San Diego International Wine Competition. Winning Gold at SDIWC for the 2008 Bravado is very welcome for our first vintage and unexpected.

The concept of a Super Tuscan wine is a challenging concept; as there is no single agreed upon definition for this wine bend. These wines, made in a non-regulated traditional Bordeaux manner, were a response to consumer preference for more bold red wine which in many respects is the opposite to Chianti wines made under strict requirements and techniques, including the requirement to blend some white grape wine into the Chianti blend. Vintners in Tuscany, Italy were experimenting with blending Bordeaux varietals with Sangiovese in the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s in order to deliver a more powerful full-bodied wine.

Today, I am aware of wines from Tuscany containing no Sangiovese and called Super Tuscan wine. At least these wines have a Tuscany connection in the growing and production of such a wine. However, could a “New World” wine made without Sangiovese be called a “Super Tuscan?” I think not, what would be the purpose? There must be some connection to Tuscany in a New World Super Tuscan. That connection is the Sangiovese grape. My vote on defining this type of wine would require some significant contribution of the Sangiovese grape. Say 25%.

I would venture to say there are not many Super Tuscan wines containing the Tannat grape. I have wanted to make a principally Sangiovese and Tannat Super Tuscan for some time. In the 2008 Bravado we also added some Cabernet Franc. In subsequent years we could also bend Cabernet Sauvignon into our Bravado wines. Bravado is a welcome addition to our wine labels.

All white wine Citizens are receiving a wonderful wine in the form of our 2009 Marsanne. This is truly a Gold Medal wine, having won this distinction at the 2011 San Diego International Wine Competition. I believe this is not the only gold medal for this wine. All white wine Citizens are also receiving two pre-release wines: the 2009 Chardonnay andthe 2009 Vineaux Rosé. The 2009 Chardonnay has a tremendous task in hand to follow the gold medal winning 2008 Chardonnay. It is a little too soon to judge the 2009 Chardonnay. The 2009 Vineaux Rosé is very recognizable as a Frogtown Rosé. I think this is one of the better Vineaux Rosés we have ever made.

The final two May, 2011 club shipment wines are the 2009 Vineaux Blanc and the 2009 Frogtown Touché. The 2009 Vineaux Blanc is included in the shipment to our mixed White and Red wine Club Members and the 2008 Touché is included in the shipment to our all Red wine Club Members.
The 2009 Vineaux Blanc won a Gold Medal at the San Diego International Wine Competition and the Touché won a Silver Medal. I have often said these two wines deliver the best wine to price value Frogtown has to offer. The 2009 Vineaux Blanc follows the Gold Medal winning 2008 Vineaux Blanc; so Gold and Vineaux Blanc are getting to be synonymous. I think better news for the 2009 Touché will come in one of the remaining 2011 competitions.

Distribution of Frogtown Wines.

Commencing this May, Empire Distributors and Frogtown have launched a significant effort to place Frogtown wines in more restaurants and package stores in Georgia. Please ask your favorite restaurants and package stores in Georgia to carry Frogtown wines. Restaurants and package stores will find special sales initiatives to place Frogtown on their wine menus and in their package stores.

What’s happening with Helen, Georgia Tasting Room?

Probably, opening early July.

Summary of Shipment wines

For those Citizens who are receiving all red wines, you will find enclosed in your shipment the 2008 Frogtown Propaganda, the 2008 Frogtown Touché, and the 2008 Frogtown Bravado, priced as follows:

2008 Frogtown Propaganda: Wine club members enjoy a 20% discount from Retail Price of $33.99.

2008 Frogtown Touché: Wine club members enjoy a 20% discount from Retail Price of $21.99.

2008 Frogtown Bravado: Wine club members enjoy a 20% discount from Retail Price of $19.99.

For those Citizens who are receiving red and white wines, you will find enclosed in your shipment the2008 Frogtown Propaganda, the 2007 Frogtown Touriga, and the 2009 Frogtown Vineaux Blanc, priced as follows:

2008 Frogtown Propaganda: Wine club members enjoy a 20% discount from Retail Price of $33.99.

2007 Frogtown Touriga: Wine club members enjoy a 20% discount from Retail Price of $27.99.

2009 Frogtown Vineaux Blanc: Wine club members enjoy a 20% discount from Retail Price of $14.99.

For those Citizens who are receiving all white wines, you will find enclosed in your shipment the 2009 Frogtown Chardonnay, the 2009 Frogtown Marsanne, and the 2009 Frogtown Vineaux Rose, priced as follows:
2009 Frogtown Chardonnay: Wine club members enjoy a 20% discount from Retail Price of $24.99.

2009 Frogtown Marsanne: Wine Club members enjoy a 20% discount from Retail Price of $19.99.

2009 Frogtown Vineaux Rosé: Wine Club members enjoy a 20% discount from Retail Price of $16.99.

Best to all,

Craig