2011 Frog's Leap Rutherford Napa Valley Merlot
Wine & Spirits
John Williams consistently produces one of the freshest Merlots in Napa Valley, this vintage light and pretty with supple plum and red currant flavors. It lacks the confected fruit of so many wines that bear the varietal name, hewing instead to clean lines and a long, mouthwatering finish. Pour it with roast duck.
This estate-grown wine is 88% Merlot, beefed up with 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Cabernet Franc. Frog's Leap wines are often lower in alcohol, and more on the earthy, mineral-y side than many in Napa, not just because they've hewed to a style since the winery was founded in the 1970s. They also practice dry farming--as does nearly all of Europe, but little of Napa--or, utilizing only the season's natural rainfall and the vineyardist Frank Leeds' skill to coax a crop from the vines. The grapes for this wine were harvested from September 26 to October 27 at an incredibly, wildly low 22.2° Brix, resulting in a super-low abv of 12.7%, the likes of which has been rarely seen in Napa since the days of disco. From the winery's vintage notes: "It is said in our business that the true test of a winery is the ability to produce an excellent wine in a difficult vintage. Make no mistake, the 2011 vintage was one that we will all remember as, quite possibly, the most challenging in the last 35 years; especially when it came to Merlot. Given those challenges we are proud to have succeeded in producing a wine that is both charming now and will have a place in our cellars for decades to come. It is beautifully fragrant and, though it is lighter and less deeply textured than a typical Frog's Leap Merlot, it has wonderful drinkability. But most of all is that it makes no apology, it celebrates its 2011-ishness: It is proud."