September & December ’15 Winemaker Notes
Dear Frogtown Citizen:
2015 Harvest Statistics
Frogtown harvested 156 tons of fruit in 2015, selling 57 tons and retaining 99 tons for Frogtown 2015 wine production.
Recent Weather Patterns of the Dahlonega Plateau
The weather patterns for 2013 vintage, 2014 vintage and 2015 vintage have a common denominator – rain. The most rain received during the growing season was 2013 (a record rain year for Lumpkin County, Georgia). The most rain days during the growing season was 2015, during which Frogtown experienced an astonishing number of rain days. Almost 50% of the days in the 2015 growing season had some rain. The 2014 Growing season was rainy but not as rainy as 2013 or 2015.
A comparison of 2013 most rain received in a growing season and 2015 most rain days in a growing season has one most significant difference. In 2013 there was very little rain during harvest after August 25th. In 2015 there was some rain the during the entire harvest period.
Considering the geographic location of Frogtown, I am not surprised Frogtown experienced so much rain during these vintages. It is abundantly clear the Dahlonega Plateau is in a cycle of significant rainfall. With the exception of the 2003 vintage, the 2001 through 2011 vintage years were significantly less rainy than the most recent three years.
It is most gratifying that, notwithstanding all the rain, Frogtown’s vineyards produced quality grapes during these most recent vintage years.
In these Notes, I will discuss our recent red wines. In the February 2016, Notes, I will discuss our recent white wines.
Vintage 2011 Red Wines.
Vintage 2011 red wines are some of the best red wines ever made at Frogtown. The 2011 red wines sent in May, 2015, September, 2015, and this current December, 2015 wine shipments demonstrate that Vintage 2011 red wines are big everything wines – dark, dark color, multileveled intense and complex fruit, thickly textured, viscous, palate coating wines that deliver a structured long lasting finish.
Vintage 2011 grapes were significantly different then the vintage 2010 grapes that produced some of the lightest textured finesse wines ever produced at Frogtown.
The 2011 reds were cellared in oak barrels for three years. Because of the substantial tannins in these wines a three-year oak protocol was appropriate. Yes, these red wines could have been bottled after a two-year oak regiment, but it would only be conjecture to conclude a shorter wood aging regime would have produced the same quality of wines.
Let’s look separately at each of the 2011 vintage red wines:
2011 Propaganda. Released in the September 2015 shipment and two months after, this wine won a Double Gold Medal at the most prestigious international competition held in the United States, the San Francisco International Wine Competition. A noteworthy, significant accomplishment achieved by Frogtown. I believe there were in the neighborhood of 20 double gold medals awarded in the 2015 San Francisco International Competition from over 6,000 wines evaluated. Is this the best ever Propaganda? Individual preferences could and would prevent a universal judgment that the 2011 Propaganda is the best ever bottling of Propaganda. The best ever descriptor is really not required in judging each bottling of Propaganda. I will not release a vintage Propaganda wine unless I believe the wine labeled, as Propaganda is a “Propaganda wine”. Make sense? What is a Propaganda wine? Well, it is a wine possessing the following Propaganda characteristics:
1. Red wines with similar flavors, complexity, elegance, soft-textured but containing significant tannins, and aging potential as a Bordeaux red wine grown and made in the Pomerol (right bank) region of Bordeaux.
2. A wine, which without question, is easily identified as made entirely from, or substantially composed of, the Merlot grape. A Merlot wine that exhibits dark red fruit including recognizable cassis (black currant) flavors.
3. Red wines which are as big as many Cabernet Sauvignon wines.
4. A red wine exhibiting virtually no green vegetal flavors.
5. A complex wine consisting of very ripe and supple tannins with wonderful mouth-feel. [Propaganda wines are the polar opposite of Merlot wines that can be describes as flabby one-dimensional wines that fail to deliver a complete front and mid palate complexity and a long lingering finish].
6. It is a wine that can and should be long lived (10-15 years of more).
7. A wine providing nuances of chocolate, cacao, vanilla and tobacco resulting from a well integrated oak regimen.
If you eliminate the references to Merlot, the above descriptors are also present in Frogtown’s other red wines; the terroir and wine making protocols are the same with different grape varieties. It is my preference for Bordeaux styled wines even when such wines contain little or no Bordeaux grapes.
Wondering about a “Propaganda wine” containing 100% Frogtown Merlot? Yes it has been done; the 2006 Frogtown Reserve Merlot, labeled as a Merlot Reserve Wine. At the time of our first bottling of a Reserve wine, I thought only varietal wines can achieve a Frogtown Reserve designation. Just does not make sense to me to label Propaganda, Touché, or another Frogtown proprietary blended wine as a Reserve wine. Yeah, one might believe a certain vintage of Propaganda or Touché is better than another, but how much better does a bottling of a Propaganda or Touché need be to be labeled a Reserve? See my point. I much rather think of the 2006 Reserve Merlot as a very special bottling of Propaganda. Make sense? Hope so. Reserving a “Reserve Label” for a varietal labeled wine is significantly more distinctive and less debatable. We do not make many varietal labeled wines and we certainty do not make many Reserve labeled wines.
2011 Citizens Estate Reserve.
I am excited to finally release our first Citizens Estate Labeled Reserve wine at our special dinner planned for December 5, 2015. Slow and slower was the blending and bottling process involving this wine. At first the wine was conceived as a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2011 Cabernet harvested by our Citizens developed into a really good Cabernet Sauvignon wine. After numerous sampling of this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine, I concluded the blending of Malbec and Petit Verdot into the Cabernet Sauvignon would make the wine more distinctive. I commenced adding small amounts of Malbec and Petit Verdot to the Cabernet Sauvignon. I concluded such additions when the blend contained 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Malbec and 19% Petit Verdot. Such blending resulted in a significantly different wine than the “original” 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine. In many respects, the 2011 Citizens Estate Reserve is similar to our Intensity labeled wines, but less fruit forward, and much bigger in texture and complexity. It does contain the finesses and elegance of a Frogtown Intensity wine.
The 2011 Touché is the ideal “poster wine” when comparing a 2011 vintage wine with prior vintages of the same labeled Frogtown red wine. Yes, notwithstanding its “bigness”, the 2011 version of Touché is definitely recognizable as a Frogtown Touché. A wonderful Cabernet Franc centric wine delivering the spicy aroma and distinct Cabernet Franc fruit that we have become accustomed to in Touché wine.
2011 Bravado, Audacity, and Penchant.
I decided to dedicate the entire vintage 2013 Sangiovese wine to the making of a Sangiovese varietal wine. This enabled me to use the more concentrated 2011 Sangiovese in the making of Super Tuscan styled wines. I did just that in making the 2011 Bravado, 2011 Audacity, and a new Super Tuscan wine labeled Penchant. The 2011 Bravado and the 2011 Audacity have been released. The 2011 Penchant will be released in the February 2016 shipment. In contrast with Bravado and Audacity, Penchant is composed of almost entirely Sangiovese and Merlot. Softer than its Super Tuscan siblings, the 2011 Penchant fills the gape between our varietal labeled Sangiovese wines and our big Super Tuscan wines. It is a much more “Sangiovese-like” wine than Bravado and Audacity.
Shortly after its release, 404 achieved exactly what I intended in creating this label, Frogtown’s flagship red wine that screams: drink local wine. This is a Merlot dominant wine like Propaganda, but with an entirely different cast of supporting blended wines. No one would argue with the statement the Touriga and Tannat contained in 404 is significantly different from the Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Petit Verdot contained in Propaganda. 404 is a Merlot centric wine containing significant different flavor and aroma than Propaganda.
404 has been wonderfully received and overnight has become one of our best selling red wines.
Merger, First Acquisition.
Yes, this initial bottling of Merger is a non-vintage wine. It, however, contains a substantial amount of 2011 vintage red wine so I think it is appropriate to include this wine in the 2011 vintage. When compared to other 2011 red vintage wines, Merger exhibits a significantly softer mouthfeel and tannin structure. This softer style was my intent in making Merger. How was this achieved? In addition to blending other vintage wines into Merger (from 2014) Merger is primarily a Cabernet Franc and Touriga blend with a relatively significant amount of Sangiovese (10%). I was intrigued when I started to blend Sangiovese into the Cabernet Franc and Touriga base. I kept on putting more Sangiovese into the blend. I really, really, like this initial bottling of Merger. I really do!!! It is soft, but complex. A very easy wine to drink, but a serious food wine which will be wonderful with pasta dishes and flavorful grilled fish. Enjoy its softness and don’t be fooled by its soft palate; Merger is a serious Frogtown red wine. I made 532 cases of Merger, First Acquisition. I strongly doubt Frogtown will ever bottle that many cases of Merger again. The confluence of the availability of significant amounts of Merlot and Touriga wines available this past spring was an oddity, which might not ever occur again when the time arrives in making another Merger wine. That’s OK; Merger will then become a Citizens wine club wine. Enjoy this wine at a very good price point when factoring in your Citizens’ discount.
Vintage 2013 Red wines.
I in addition to Shotgun, 4th Reload and Applause Third Standing ovation containing substantial mounts of 2013 vintage wine, I have made the 2013 vintage wines identified below at the conclusion of the 2015 harvest. I expected these 2011 vintage to be received by you, our Citizens as very high quality wines. That is my assessment of these wines! In addition to Shotgun and Applause, I have made the following labeled 2013 red wines:
2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
2013 Reserve Tannat
2013 Reserve Petit Verdot
Find anything interesting with this list of wines? Yes, 3 Reserve labeled wines and a new label called Priority. It has been three years since the last labeled Reserve wine. I prioritized (no pun intended) the making of a Reserve wine in 2013, ending up with 3 such labeled wines. The number of 2013 Reserve wines is a testament to the quality of many different 2013 barrels.
The 2013 Priority is a very unusual blending of principally Nebbiolo with various amounts of Malbec, Chambourcin and Teroldego. It will interest me greatly with your reaction to this blended red wine, when released.
With the exception of Shotgun and Applause (have been out of Shotgun for almost a year and getting real low on Applause Second Standing Ovation) the remaining wines made from the 2013 vintage grapes will have the luxury of being aged in our cellar for many months before release. These wines were indeed ready to be bottled after a two-year oak regiment, so bottle we did!
Wines included in this Shipment
Citizens receiving three bottles of red wines will receive a bottle of 2011 Frogtown Touché ($29.99), a bottle of 2011 Frogtown Merger ($29.99), and a bottle of 2011 Frogtown 404 ($29.99).
Citizens receiving these red wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost for pick-up of $77.01, which includes sales tax, and the addition of $12.84 shipping (we now must charge sales tax on shipping) results in a cost for these wines shipped of $ 89.85.
Citizens receiving two bottles of Red wine and one bottle of White wine are receiving a bottle of 2011 Frogtown Touché ($29.99), a bottle of 2011 Frogtown Merger ($29.99), and a bottle of 2014 Frogtown 770 ($27.99)
Citizens receiving these red and white wines enjoy a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost for pick-up of $75.30 which includes sales tax and the addition of $12.84 shipping (again, we must now charge sales tax on shipping) results in a cost for these wines shipped of $88.14.
Citizens receiving three bottles of white wines are receiving a bottle of the Frogtown 2014 770 ($27.99), a bottle of the 2014 Vineaux Blanc ($21.99), and a bottle of the 2014 Frogtown Marsanne (30.99). These wines will ship later in the month closer to Christmas. Though the Vineaux Blanc and Marsanne wines are bottled, we are still waiting for the labels.
Citizens receiving these three white wines shall enjoy will a discount of 20% to reduce the Citizen cost of these wines to $69.30 which includes sales tax and the addition of $12.84 shipping (again, we must now charge sales tax on shipping) results in a cost of these wines shipped of $82.14.
Best to All of our Citizens, Craig, Cydney, Nettie, Jordan, and the rest of our Frogtown extended family