Frog's Leap Merlot 2016
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Hmm. Dry-farmed merlot in Napa Valley? John Williams and his team at Frog’s Leap grow some of the freshest, prettiest merlot in a region where the variety is mostly irrigated and taken to extremes of richness. They focus this wine on fruit from their estate vineyard surrounding the winery on the east side of Rutherford, where the cool clay soils near the Napa River provide shelter for the vine roots while the heat of the day ripens the fruit. One taste of this wine may have you wondering why more growers don’t follow their lead. I don’t think I’ve ever written “sing-song merlot” to describe the variety in Napa Valley, but there it is in my notes on this red-fruited wine, a mouthwatering depiction of red plums, savory chewing tobacco and light, brisk, gentle tannins. Best Buy
Frog's Leap is a family-owned winery dedicated to sustainable principles and committed to producing wines with balance, restraint and respect for terroir. Originally founded by the Williams Family in 1981 on a spot along Mill Creek known as the Frog Farm, today Frog's Leap makes its home amongst 200 acres of vineyards in Rutherford at the historic ‘Red Barn’. This noted ‘ghost winery’ was built in 1884 as the Adamson Winery and renovated in 1994 as Frog's Leap's permanent home. A handsome bi-level barrel chai completes the state-of-the-art winemaking facility and guests are received in the warm and welcoming LEED-certified hospitality center.
Now in its fourth decade of production, Winemakers John Williams, Paula Moschetti and Rory Williams hand-craft an annual production of 65,000 cases comprised of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Merlot, and an estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon. Using the best of Napa Valley's organically grown, dry- farmed grapes and the most traditional winemaking techniques, Frog's Leap strives to produce wines that deeply reflect the soils and climate from which they emanate.
First certified by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) in 1988 Frog's Leap has been a leader in the industry for over two decades. The winery relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and control pests on a farm. Organic farming excludes the use of manufactured fertilizers and pesticides, plant growth regulators and genetically modified organisms. Organic farming involves mechanical weed control (via cultivating or hoeing) rather than herbicidal weed control.
Frog's Leap presents a relaxed approach to enjoying wine. An easy hospitality and warm sense of humor is juxtaposed with a more serious sensibility when making wine. The wines produced range from Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay to Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc. We have quite the line up to offer so we hope you’ll try one of these delicious wines that harmoniously combine quality, sustainability and value.
The Rutherford sub-region of Napa Valley centers on the town of Rutherford and covers some of Napa Valley’s finest vineyard real estate, spanning from the Mayacamas in the west, to the Vaca Mountains on the other side of the valley.
Inside of the Rutherford AVA, bordering the Mayacamas, is a stretch of uplands called the Rutherford Bench. (These bench lands technically run the length of Oakville as well). Mountain runoff creates deep, well-drained, alluvial soils on the bench, giving vine roots plenty of reason to permeate deep into the ground. The result is wine with great structure and complexity.
Rutherford Cabernet Sauvingons and Bordeaux Blends garner substantial attention for their enticing fragrances of dusty earth and dried herbs, broad and juicy mid-palates and lush and fine-grained tannins. The sub-appellation claims some of the valley’s most prized vineyards today, namely Caymus, Rubicon and Beckstoffer Georges III.
It is also home to Napa’s most influential and historic personalities. Thomas Rutherford, responsible for the appellation's name, made serious investments here in grape growing and wine production between the years of 1850 to 1880. Gustave Niebaum purchased a large swath of land and completed his winery in 1887, calling it “Inglenook.” Today this remains the oldest bonded winery in California. Georges Latour founded Beaulieu Vineyard in 1900, making it the oldest continuous winery in the state. Latour also hired the famous enologist, André Tchelistcheff, a man credited for single-handedly defining the modern Napa winemaking style.
With generous fruit and supple tannins, Merlot is made in a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol, where it is often blended with Cabernet Franc to spectacular result. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly in California’s Napa Valley. Somm Secret—As much as Miles derided the variety in the 2004 film, Sideways, his prized 1961 Château Cheval Blanc is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.