Wine Review: Frog’s Leap Merlot Rutherford Napa Valley 2018

frog's leapFrog’s Leap has the reputation for making old world-style wines using new world grapes. In the land of the lush and sumptuous, this wine gives us lean and spare with alcohol below 13.5%. How successful is this attempt to make wine against the grain? It’s one of those necessary wines. Its very existence fulfills  the need for norm-busters and difference makers. I will always check-in with them to see what’s up. But how much did I like the wine? It’s good, interesting, but I’m not in love.

It shows dense, dark plum and dried herbs with a bit of chocolate and plenty of dusty earth. The oak is restrained and you can take a big whiff without feeling the alcoholic burn. That in itself is worth the price of admission.

This wine is in a hurry. Medium weight and juicy up front, the midpalate rush to a tart, astringent crescendo leaves little time to wallow in opulence. A watery impression underneath the very active, citric-like acidity contributes to a sense of vanishing fruit persistence, as medium-grain, sandy tannins fill the void on the medium length finish. It just lacks presence on the palate.

Tense and animated with just enough charm to pull it back from the edge, the wine is fervent, imploring, it flares but then falters, and in the end doesn’t get what it wants.

For a music match, I give you Roxanne’s spare instrumentation, weight, tempo, and tension in the vocal.

Notes: Usually has 6-9% Cabernet in the blend, French and American Oak, uses organically grown, dry-farmed grapes.

Score: 90

Price: $40

Alc: 13.3%

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