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.
By the way, I found this terrific service, PersonalWine.com, based in Austin, which will send your friends or your clients (who may overlap I guess if you’re particularly lucky and skillful) a very very nice bottle of wine, of your choice, with a customized label promoting your business, or featuring your own ugly mug, or offering your friend an insulting but instructive aphorism, or whatever you want. You pick the wine, work with them to design the label, give them your giftee’s names and addresses, and they do all the work. Check it out!