This story is about a small artesian winery called Frog’s Tooth Vineyards in Murphys, California. But unlike most stories, this is about a change or metamorphosis from “another store front winery” to “an award winning winery”. Now that may seem a bit harsh, which I am not accustomed to giving such negative publicity, but it is noteworthy in as how far, in my opinion, they have come up. The winery always has had a great motto “If wine has legs, then frogs can have teeth”.
To regress, about three years ago I moved up to Calaveras County and was interested to learn more in depth about the wineries and wine associated within the County, specifically Murphys, the mecca of Calaveras County Wines. I was introduced to them from several folks residing within the community including the local Wine Society. Upon my visit/interview with them, some communications went awry and I did not get a chance to speak with the ownership. I was able to meet with the winemaker and taste many of the wines. I was less than impressed across the spectrum of varietals. I don’t do “negative stories”, so with that nothing was ever written.
Now three years later, I heard many rumblings of their improved wines from many sources. So I set up a tasting and interview with Larry Aderman, the managing Partner of Frog’s Tooth Vineyards. Somewhat hesitant to taste, but still trying to be open, I partook in tasting six or seven wines this one afternoon. I truly marveled with the wine quality and sources of their grapes. To my amazement and pleasure were three standout wines of quality and distinction.
The first wine was the 2016 Pinot Noir from Russian River, specifically the Desmond Vineyards. This light and delicate strawberry bombshell of a wine, was remarkable. These grapes come from the Russian River Valley. This is a big Pinot Noir with a 15.2% alcohol level. It recently won a Silver Medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition in 2019. Sunset Magazine rated it 94 points and awarded it a Double Gold. They also won Gold at the West Coast Wine Competition (formerly East Meets West Competition). That is some monumental climb in the last three years! I recently served this at a dinner party, and to a person, each was impressed.
The second wine was their 2017 Chardonnay, again from Russian River Valley. This wine possessed a mouthwatering butter and soft lemon aromas and taste. Again a quantum leap from three years ago.
The third wine was their 2016 Sangiovese from the Matagrano Vineyard located in El Dorado County, in the Sierra Nevada foothills. A fairly high alcohol level of 15.3%, but the fruit and mouth feel provided an extremely “heavier wine”. A combination of earthiness, rustic and fruit all prevail on the palate. This wine won Gold at the Sierra Foothill Wine Competition.
Perhaps one of the most noteworthy wines, which I haven’t tasted but just ordered is their 2016 Syrah which just won Double Gold at the California State Fair Wine Competition. If that was not enough it also rated 99 points, and Best in Class!! These grapes come from the Renner Vineyard in Vallecito, not far from Murphys. Again a heavy alcohol level of 15.2%, but obviously a winner from one of the tougher wine competitions.
So my hats off to the Larry Aderman, Managing Partner and Will SavoieHoule, the winemaker. You have moved three or four wines from my tough rating of “average” to award winning (major wine competitions) and delicious wines in three years. No small feat on so many levels. Congratulations and keep up the great work.
(A couple out front of their tasting room enjoying the daily selections)
In conclusion, if you once tried Frog’s Tooth Vineyards wines in the past and rated them “so-so or average”, I think you will be surprised, impressed and appreciative of their progress in making quality wines. I am a hard person to please, and they turned me around!
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Frog Tooth Vineyards: https://www.frogstooth.com