For decades, Frog’s Leap had a goal: Produce a Rutherford AVA Estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon. Inspired by the early Cabernets of Inglenook and Beaulieu Vineyard, they spent 20 years finding and farming highly sought-after land in Rutherford, with particular attention to the iconic Rutherford Bench. This stretch of land, resting on the fast-draining gravel bed of a long-gone river, is not really a bench at all. (There is little question that this is some of Napa’s most prized real estate, though.)
It all began with the acquisition of the Red Barn Vineyard in 1994, the official move to Rutherford. This prime location provided a century-old facility and 40 acres perfectly suited to Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Immediately following the move, Frank Leeds, longtime Frog’s Leap vineyard manager, agreed to a partnership between Frog’s Leap and his family’s Chavez Leeds Vineyard. This generational vineyard situated on the Rutherford Bench gave the first real taste of how complex and connected dry-farmed, organically-grown Cabernet Sauvignon could be.
In 2007, the Frog’s Leap purchased the historic Rutherford Bench Rossi Vineyard. Now mostly planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, the 50 acre Rossi Vineyard completed the picture by yielding high quality Rutherford grapes. The winery had achieved its goal of an entirely estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon that can stand the test of time.
2014 is only the third vintage of Frog’s Leap’s estate-grown Cabernet grapes. In many ways, however, it represents four decades of tasting, learning, experimenting, and executing on the idea that a wine could smell and taste so much of the place where it was grown.
It is a classic wine in every way: intense aromas of dark fruit, blackberry, and cassis with overtones of mocha and coffee bean. The flavours are subtle and nuanced, precisely balanced and deep. It is a wine for the cellar, of course, but will not disappoint in the short term paired with a nice rack of lamb or Châteaubriand grilled over charcoal.
“The prevailing style of Napa cabernet today emphasizes power, weight and extravagance, but Frog’s Leap is one of a small but significant number of cabernet producers that form a kind of alternate Napa universe. They are making wines of balance and restraint that are a direct link to Napa’s past […] The Frog’s Leap wines are subtle and nuanced […] They’re easy to drink with a meal and rewarding, especially for one who has despaired of finding Napa cabernets that are table wines, not jammy fruit bombs that overwhelm food.”
Eric Asimov on Frog’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon, The New York Times, Aug 2008
“John Williams dry farms this cabernet, and it shows the drought year in its chunky blackness, settling into an underground root-zone cool as it opens with air. It offers a sense of restraint and satin-textured smoothness, a wine that needs bottle age to develop its flavor detail.”
90 points, Wine & Spirits, April 2017