Thursday, 13 June 2013

Frog's Leap Winery, Napa Valley

The other day we were lucky enough for John Williams, the head of Frog’s Leap Winery in the Napa Valley, California to host a tasting featuring a selection of his best and in some cases, most exclusive, wines.

Located in the Rutherford area of the Napa Valley, John has been creating organic wines since 1988. They pride themselves in creating wines that rather than being influenced by wine-making technology such as ‘reverse osmosis’ and ‘genetically engineered yeast’, are true to the soil the grapes are grown in and the loving ethos of the Frog’s Leap community.

Although the tasting consisted of about seven wines, there are three that I want to focus on and attempt to show that Frog’s Leap not only make fantastic wines, but that there is a lot of substance behind this whole ‘hippy, organic/bio-dynamic’ wine making lifestyle.

A crisp and clear gooseberry packed wine with beautiful minerality that would easily stand up to the greats such as Cloudy Bay of Marlborough, NZ. And at £14.95 it beats it vines down for price!

Although one of America’s most popular grapes, most U.S. Zinfandel's are piled with too much fruit, too much alcohol and are poorly made. This wine however is where the whole loving, organic approach started to come up trumps. Rather than it being like having a plum shoved in your face, there are subtle black-fruit flavours with a refreshing peppermint nose. On the palate it is balanced, smooth with great subtle blackberry and a meatiness that results in a long smooth flavourful finish. Although a bit steep at £19.00, it gives something which very few American Zin’s do, complexity.

One of their biggest sellers, this Merlot offers a dark cherry nose with a long lasting medium to full bodied taste on the palate. Again it is full of complexity and flavour that is not often found in new world Merlot. Even Wine Society Buyer Pierre Mansour described it as ‘The best new world Merlot I have ever tried’. Impressive! Must be worth the £21.00 squiddoo’s a bottle then!

So yes, as you may have guessed, the Frog’s Leap Winery does make beautiful wines, like no other wine I have tried from America. Rather than being influenced by certain techniques to taste how the grower wants it to, these are allowed to express themselves individually. All of these wines have a certain ‘earthiness’ which makes them taste entirely natural and with every sip you get a feeling of place and ‘terroir’. 

Now I’m not saying we should all run around the vines naked and only harvest when Venus is aligned with Uranus but sometimes, the right soil and a bit of love goes a long way. Oh hell. Am I a Mormon now? I’m off to hug some trees. Byeee.

P.S. Even if you don’t buy a bottle, check out their interactive website. It is an absolute hoot! 

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