When the Winery Comes to You – Frog’s Leap Wine Tasting

Normally, I write about going somewhere but Frog’s Leap winery just came to me instead of me going to it – a phenomenal wine tasting with friends and good food!

Since 2001, I have been part of a wine tasting group of friends.  Some have cycled out when they moved out of town but the group has mostly been the same since 2003/2004.  It makes for a great night of tasting wines, catching up, and getting a little silly.  And usually, discovery of some good wines.  This past weekend we had one of these tastings.  And that night was not to be different!

The Setup

Our friends J&J were in charge of the tasting and it was held at my house.  Being in charge meant they picked the theme,  the wine to go with the theme, and munchies to go with the wine (cheeses, chocolate, fruits, etc.).  In 11 yrs we have done “new world” vs. “old world” wines, blind tasting of reds with high typicity (how well a wine represents the grape varietal’s “agreed-upon” traits), wines of country X (“Italian reds”), wine X across several wine regions that make it (“Cabs from Australia, California and Chile”), and so on.

This time, our hosts decided to do wines from one winery.  We had never done that!  They picked Frog’s Leap as J1 is a
Fellow of the Frog“.  I have had Frog’s Leap before (Rutherford!!) and liked it a lot but had not tried, for example, their whites.  So this was going to be a new way of sampling wines for our group.  I linked their site above and it will take you to an intro.  Normally, I skip intros but this one is playful!  Ribbit.  (But don’t go there now – finish reading this and THEN go.)

Frog's Leap wine cork

Cork by Frog’s Leap, Fingers by Schmitt

The Food

As part of the tasting, we have munchies.  Partly so stomachs don’t empty throughout the evening (most people eat a light dinner beforehand), and partly to help the tasting of the wines as some foods help highlight the flavors of the wine (whereas others can make the wine flat; that is part of the learning to do in a wine group!).

What was served?  Well, here, let me tell you…

  • Camembert and Chevre from Calyroad Creamery in Sandy Springs http://calyroadcreamery.com/ For the apricot/chevre, dried apricots were diced up with the chevre in a food processor.
  • Cheddar – Cabot Reserve Aged Cheddar
  • Prosciutto rolls from Costco
  • Savannah Bee’s Honey from Whole Foods for the cheeses or the prosciutto rolls
  • 3 types of Ghirardelli chocolates
  • Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and dried cherries
  • Baguette from Breadwinner Cafe in Sandy Springs, GA  http://www.breadwinnercafe.com/index.html
  • Cucumbers and parsley were from Split Cedar Farm from North Georgia (bought at the Sandy Springs Farmers’ Market)
  • Maine Lobster Dip was from Costco and it was served in cucumber slices!
Lobster dip from Costco served in cucumbers

The Maine lobster dip

Cheese and crackers always good for a wine tasting

Cheese and crackers couldn’t be absent!

Pistachios served while enjoying a wine tasting of Frog's Leap wines

Pistachios and other items ready for the tasting

Ghirardelli dark chocolate awaiting the start of a wine tasting
Delicious chocolates await us…

The Winery

Briefly, Frog’s Leap was founded in Napa Valley about 30 or so years ago at a place known as Frog Farm.  It is claimed that frogs were raised there for sale to the big city (San Fran).  Don’t worry, that’s a long time ago and the vines are free from any frog-smell!  It produces – organically – both whites and reds, with an annual production as of this writing of about 60,000 cases.  Besides the wine, the next best thing they have is their motto:  “Time’s fun when you’re having flies.”

The Wines

The moment we have been waiting for:  the wines!  The stars of the evening were:

  • 2009 Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2011 Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2009 Chardonnay
  • 2009 Zinfandel
  • 2007 Merlot
  • 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

 

Bottles of Frog's Leap red wines

Half the stars of the show! Let the games begin!

Both Sauvignon Blancs were well received by the group.  Clearly one being 2 yrs younger than the other would translate into more of an edge on the younger one but everyone felt that fit well if you are wanting to drink a white wine outside on a hot day.  It felt more refreshing than the 2011 and someone said it sort of popped on your tongue, alluding to a slight sense of effervescence without actually being effervescent.  The 2009 had nice acidity and stronger fruit flavors – it paired very well with the raspberries but not with the blackberries, something we couldn’t quite understand.  I feel I could drink these on a summer day but also other times of the year with certain dishes, especially strong-flavored fishes (e.g., salmon) as it would help counter those flavors.

The Chardonnay was a pleasant surprise as it wasn’t as oaky as many of us expected – which was good in our book.  It almost had an old world style which explains at least why I liked it as I generally do not like California Chardonnays but do like French ones.  It had a buttery sensation to it but it was not too strong along with good fruit flavors.  Very mineral and crisp.  We noted the pistachios went well with it.

We moved on to the reds at this point and first in line:  the Zinfandel.  It had a nice bouquet and light tannins.  While it has a spicy start, it was not overly spicy.  We found out it went well with the raspberries too.  As with the prior wines, it had a short finish.  I really enjoyed this Zinfandel.

On the Merlot, I can tell you it was the one wine the majority said was their favorite of the group because it felt well-balanced.  It went really well with Ghirardelli’s Cabernet Matinee which we kept calling Cabernet Manatee (initially, someone WAS really confused!).  It had a strong scent of grapes and probably the strongest finish of the group.  Probably the extra years helped make it the favorite – wine, after all, gets better with age!

Finally, we hit the Cabernet Sauvignon.  It had strong flavors of cherry and wasn’t a full-bodied red which pleased most in the group though a couple of us gravitate towards full-bodied reds.  It was well-balanced like the Merlot and a pleasure to drink.

What struck us all was how good the wines were across the board.  One cannot go wrong choosing any Frog’s Leap wine, it seems, and that is good to know!  Now we all think we are fellows of the frog (lower case as it is unofficial) and continue to be best friends with the Fellow of the Frog in the group, J1, for having chosen well and introduced us more fully to this winery.

And the Non-Sensical!

Oh, and what is a wine tasting with this group (or others, I am sure) without the non-sensical things that are said or done.  OK, not all are for this blog, and not all do I remember why they were said (except I jotted them down in my handy notepad) but they are part of what makes a wine tasting with friends so much more fun than one at another venue.  A very small sample to keep this blog from being banned… and to protect the innocent:

  • Reminiscing about a wine someone had had elsewhere, the descriptor was “sweaty sock” – wish I knew what wine that was to not try it!
  • Overheard:  “Can you pour some honey on my prosciutto?”
  • Overheard:  “Come from the backside”
  • All fun and games until someone breaks a chair…

The main explanation of the non-sensical:

Before and after at a wine tasting of Frog's Leap wines

Before and after…

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If you are interested in starting a group like ours, feel free to drop me a note here or in my Facebook page www.facebook.com/ilivetotravel

Comments

  1. WHY?! Why didn’t you warn me that you were going to post mouthwatering pictures of food? I’m starving now… and in need of a glass of wine. :)
    Tawny- Captain and Clark recently posted..Getting a taste of San Juan, Puerto Rico.My Profile

  2. Yummy yummy, this sounds like a great night in!

    I have always been curious about American wines, and whilst they weren’t brilliant (to my taste) 5 years ago, that has completely changed!

    Frog’s Leap is always on our list to try – on our last trip, we managed to squeeze some sauv blanc bottles back ;) will be thinking of you when we uncork them!
    @mrsoaroundworld recently posted..Blown away by ChicagoMy Profile

    • The Rutherford Frog’s Leap is OUTSTANDING! California wines are not usually the ones I would tend to like the most but some, like that one, are gems! Better than thinking about me when you uncork them, uncork them when I am around! ;)

  3. Why don’t I live close enough to you to get an invite to this? I didn’t realize you were such a wino (well, one who knows a lot about wine, but whatever…tomato-tomato). Wonderful photos of the food and wine. BRAVO!
    Leah Travels recently posted..Texas Tuesday: ¡Viva Terlingua!My Profile

    • I am a man of mystery! I love my wine and I love my chocolate. There. All my secrets revealed! These wine tastings are a heck of a lot of fun. For those who are not wine fans, the same concept can be done with other beverages. One in the group surprised us at one wine tasting with it being a white beer tasting – it was fun!

  4. Yum! I’d love the recipe for the lobster dip!
    jade recently posted..Obstacle Course & Zip-Line at the Alligator FarmMy Profile

  5. loove that you do this and a little upset we don’t live close enough for an invite!
    the lazy travelers recently posted..the five stages of vacation withdrawalMy Profile

  6. I’ll be honest, I don’t know a whole lot about wine, but I know I like to drink it. If I come across Frog’s Leap I’ll be sure to get a bottle (or four), probably the Zinfandel.
    Francesca recently posted..Melodies and travel memoriesMy Profile

    • Francesca, wine can be intimidating but it’s really what each individual likes. What I get out of the wine tastings is knowing how to articulate what I like so next time at a wine store, I can let the employee know what I like and they can choose something good for me! The approach we have means we all learn some and those hosting that night learn a little more in the process of picking the theme and bottles (wine stores are very eager to explain things, I’ve learned!). Salud!

  7. I’ll take all of the above! I could really use a glass of wine with aged cheddar and some of those prosciutto rolls. mMmm..
    Kieu ~ GQ trippin recently posted..Geisha Hunting in KyotoMy Profile

    • Come on down, Kieu! But give me some notice so I can stock up – don’t keep much food around with all these travels! The aged cheddar by the way, goes very well with some honey.

  8. I absolutely love the idea of a wine tasting group – this sounds right up my alley! My friends and I usually rent a limo and go wine tasting on Long Island for the day, but this seems like it would be good to do as well (and probably cheaper!) :)
    The World Wanderer recently posted..Capturing Colour.My Profile

    • It’s a lot of fun though sometimes the fun & foolish part takes over the sharing thoughts on the wine! :) Cheaper for sure – we have a budget of no more than $2-30 per person incl. the munchies. It works well!

  9. Fun! What a great idea. Maybe I’ll start this as an annual birthday tradition, now that I’m supposed to be a sophisticated adult and all (hah!).
    Wandergirl recently posted..Way Back Play Back: Notes from London, 2008; or, The 30th HourMy Profile

    • That must mean you think we are sophisticated – thanks: for giving us too much credit!! Wine can seem so complicated but it is really very enjoyable and discoverable without a lot of “fanciness”!

  10. i can see it now…wine tweetup….destination unknown. put it on the short list, though – IT IS SO ON!
    lola recently posted..‘The Mikimoto’ at Beverly WilshireMy Profile

  11. What a great evening with friends! I’m not a little bummed we didn’t stop at Frogs Leap, as we rode bicycles right by it earlier this week!
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..The Soundtrack of My TravelsMy Profile

    • The way I se it, DJ, now you have a great reason to go back!! Did you run over any frogs??!! I also did a bike ride as we sampled Sonoma windrows a few yrs back. Let me tell you, my hiking skills do degrade after a few wineries! That ditch was calling my name. Don’t know how I managed to avoid it!

  12. That Maine lobster dip looks amazing. It is always helpful to read information about wine from trusted sources.
    Traveling Ted recently posted..Making the famed mole poblano sauce in Puebla: A photo essayMy Profile

  13. Raul – I knew you loved wine, but I had no idea how serious your expertise was. Very, very cool that you’ve had this wine-tasting group for so long! Oh, and yeah, thanks a lot for posting those mouth-watering pics… Warning next time por favor? ;-)
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Photo of the Week: Chicago’s Skydeck LedgeMy Profile

  14. I discovered the Frogs Leap Chardonnay when in a wine story during my days in San Francisco… I have since gone back to it when I need a good crisp Chardonnay… But I have yet to try the other wines from Frogs Leap…. it seems like I might enjoy their Zinfadel as well.

    stay sipping vino, craig
    Craig Zabransky recently posted..The Saturday Farmers Market at NoordermarktMy Profile

  15. What a great experience! Wine tasting is one of the best things to do in your precious time. It can be better if you share it with your friends or with those people you love.

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