LCBO Vintages Release
John Williams and Paula Moschetti, the winemakers at Frog’s Leap, are well aware that the monster Zinfandels of the 1970s are alive and well. For some, they’re very much in fashion. Some of these monster wines command monster prices based on their BIG alcohol, BIG flavours, and BIG bottles.
Frog’s Leap Zin is different. You can’t use this stuff to light your barbecue. Maybe it’s that they found early inspiration for Zinfandel from the incredible Zins of the 1940s and 1950s: field blends of Petite Sirah, Carignan, and sometimes Napa Gamay all picked at ripeness added colour, aromatics and earthy complexity. In other words, the help of other varietals reveals the Zinfandel grape’s true flavours. These principles form the foundation of Frog’s Leap Zinfandel.
The foundation of Frog’s Leap as a winery is sustainability. It’s a winery with a literal mission statement that challenges the wisdom of growth for growth’s sake, reaching for balance instead. The winery has been Certified Organic since 1988, and tends its dry-farmed vineyards with a biodynamic approach that favours crop rotation and an array of manures and composts over manufactured fertilizers and herbicidal weed control.
As the average age of Frog’s Leap’s dry-farmed Zinfandel vines reaches 35 years, the fruit from these vines is reaching new heights of complexity and finesse. Not to be challenged by the below-average rainfall that was the signature of the 2014 vintage, this wine is just plain delicious to drink. The final blend is 80% Zinfandel, 20% Petite Sirah.
There’s restraint and elegance here: it isn’t a big, bruiser Zinfandel. With a profoundly perfumed nose, the palate is rich with raspberry and mulberry underscored by a bit of cinnamon and white pepper. More elegance than brawn, this wine is where Volnay meets Morgon. Consider pairing with beautiful roast bird, perhaps a few chanterelles (if you can find them).
“John Williams is on a roll, following his exceptional 2013 Zinfandel with an equally delicious 2014. He dry-farms his 40 year old vines, harvesting them at the same time as his petite sirah, so he can co-ferment the fruit. That brings the tannins together in a refreshing, gentle structure that lifts the fruit flavours, presenting them as perfectly ripe forest berries. The tannins feel plush, even as they carry a note of black-peppercorn spice and manzanita. This is a beautiful Napa Valley red that happens to speak with an accent of Zin.”
#2 Best Zinfandel of 2016, 94 points, Wine & Spirits, Aug 2016