May ’14 Winemaker Notes
Dear Frogtown Citizen:
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.
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.
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!!!!