Monday, March 10, 2008

Frog's Leap

Gladys and I went out to Napa in January and toured a few wineries. In our dotage, we are obliged to sip and spit lest we become comatose on the ride home. Even though we had taken the precaution of hiring a car and driver, we had plans for the evening and did not wish to pass out.

The absolute stand-out of the touring was Frog's Leap. I guess I have toured more than twenty wineries, but never have I received such an education about the philosophy, the zeitgeist, the politics, the life-spirit-embodiment of a winemaker as during this tour. Frog's Leap is an organic winery, so no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. They have an impressive solar panel installation, which I think if I remember correctly they said provides all the electric power used by the winery. They keep their own bees, and they run chickens, pigs and cattle on a small scale, but in the old-fashioned farmer's yard manner.

The guide explained things, simple things I suppose, but things I had never really focused on. She said, for example, that when a someone says a wine is "peppery," really what they're saying is that it has a relatively high alcohol content. High alcohol in a wine is perceived by the throat, palate, tongue and nose as peppery flavor. She said that Frog's Leap worked to keep the alcohol level of even their big cabs down to a reasonable level, and seeks to impart flavor through other less blunt techniques.

I have never tasted a merlot like Frog's Leap's. I have come to expect a watery thin beverage when presented with a merlot, but Frog's Leap's merlot is anything but thin.

I cannot recommend too highly this tour.

1 comment:

Personal Wine said...

Nice post Enrico! There is a small but incrreasing momentum to level off the high alcohol percentage in wines by picking the grapes at the right harvest. A lot of wine makers have been holding the grapes on the vines a little longer to raisin them out a little, increasing the sugar, which under fermentation increases alcohol levels as sugars convert to alcohol. Its good news as in my opinion higher levels of alcohol negate the healthy properties that wine historically offers.