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!
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.)
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.
- 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!
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 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
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:
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