2011 Frog's Leap Rutherford Napa Valley Merlot
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."