Frogtown Cellars – ’11 Audacity – Wine Review

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Tasting Frogtown Wine – date 2/3/2018

For our third wine on our wine flight I chose something from another benchmark North Georgia winery. Frogtown Cellars is the most awarded winery in the country located outside of California. They and Wolf Mountain are part of the Georgia Fine Wine Alliance. Their wines are almost always “Grown, produced and bottled” by them. They strive for the highest level of quality control and Craig, the winemaker, has been named one of the 100 most influential wine makers in the country. He and his wife, Cydney, run Frogtown and do an amazing job of it too. I’ve been a member of their wine club for well over 5 years.

I decided that for the third North Georgia wine in our wine tasting, I would go into the cellar and pick something different. Frogtown produces lovely Sangiovese wines, so I picked a Super Tuscan style. I am not a huge fan of the Italian Super Tuscan’s, because you have no idea what wines make up the blend, other than Sangiovese. For this reason, I will spring for the extra money and get a Rosso di Montalcino or a Brunello di Montalcino when I am out, as those are required to be 100% Sangiovese. However, Craig usually discloses the breakdown of his blend, which I enjoy. It allows you to stretch your pallet further during a wine tasting to see what characteristics you are picking up from the varietals in the blend. This wine was 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Sangiovese, 22% Merlot, and 11% Tannat. Tannat is an interesting grape. It’s named after the fact that it boasts very high tannins and sometimes when it is a single varietal wine, will suck the moisture right out of your mouth. I was VERY interested to see how the austere use of it in the blend interacted with the other varietals. Sangiovese is a fairly acidic grape with a red fruit dominant characteristic, as is Merlot. However, Merlot is known for having less acidity than Sangiovese. Cabernet Sauvignon typically have big tannins and high acidity, and can have red or dark fruit, depending on the growing region, vintage, terroir and many other factors. Tannat is typically tannic and has a lot of bright red fruit and spices.

Upon inspecting the appearance of the Frogtown wine, we all noticed that it was more of a garnet color and that we were starting to see some bricking or oxidation of the wine. Given that it was an ’11, this is expected. You also see the brick bleeding into the halo of the wine, indicating the oxidation and that it has been aged. This led us to anticipate lighter tannins and lighter fruit characteristics of the wine. The nose was highly aromatic with strong aromas of raspberry, black currant, apricot, black pepper, plum and licorice. Of the 3 wines we had tasted, we felt that this was the most aromatic of them all. On Nose Intensity, we felt that it was “Strong and Alluring”, which resulted in it getting a 4 out of 5.

On the flavor/fruit intensity we felt like it was “Abundant”, although some wanted to call it “Powerful”. The tannins were very silky, as a 2011 wine should be at this point. This led to an abundant agreement, while it may have been more powerful when it was younger. This resulted in it getting scored a 19 out of 25 in the Fruit Intensity category. Aging a wine will result in less fruit, so it can affect this area dramatically.

When reviewing the flavor characteristics, due to the acidity, it was noticeably more crisp than elegant. The first thing that I noticed on the pallet was red fruit. With this blend, it’s expected. The fruit that was being picked up on the pallet was cherry, strawberry, currant and apricot, blueberry, and plum. There were smoky tones, earthy moist soil and an herbaciousness. On the finish we caught some coffee notes. We scored this a 7 out of 10, or “Very Good” in Flavor Characteristics.

Food parings that would work wonderfully are marsala, BBQ, sautéed dishes, grilled meats, but all Italian food. The acidity would work great with these dishes and the red fruit would not overpower them, while still contrasting grilled dishes and BBQ quite nicely. This was a versatile food wine and showcases the old-world style that Craig goes for when he crafts Frogtown wines. Old-world winemakers are all about pairing wines to go with food. They don’t try to extract everything that they can from the grapes, because when you do, the result can sometimes overpower your food, and result in a wine that is out of balance.

When reviewing the balance, we felt that it was dry, with high acidity, complex, and medium bodied. The balance was harmonious and earned it a 4 out of 5.

On the finish it was between 30 seconds and 1 minute, earning it a “Long’ designation, and a 4 out of 5.

Total assessment was that I would recommend this Frogtown wine to go with food or enjoy on a warm day, as it wasn’t overburdened with dark fruit, which I find to be too heavy on a warm day. We scored this an 88 on a 50-basis point scale. I have to state that when it was younger, and the fruit would’ve been stronger in the wine, it would definitely have earned a higher score, around a 90-91.

Tom Ward

Tom’s life, knowledge, and passion for wine is something that he is excited to share with every guest that he comes in contact with and looks forward to joining them on their wine education and experiences.