Varietal of the Month: Frog’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc

Clean, fresh, minerally… a transparent view into the soils of Rutherford Valley.

Since 1981 Frog’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc has been exactly what the winemakers feel a Sauvignon Blanc should be. It is a dry wine of substantial scale that carries itself well, as it retains a delicacy to complement food, not overwhelm. This is how they described the wine more than 40 years ago and these are the same words they still use. They’ve consistently stayed true to the original ideals and characteristics of the wine.

It is made from 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc grapes from 6 different vineyards representing the best quality Sauvignon Blanc grapes of the season. The vines are farmed in such a way as to keep the alcohol low, the acidity high, and the flavors crisp, refreshing and complex.

Any changes made over time have served to enhance the wine and reinforce their ideals. They’ve moved to stainless steel fermentation to preserve freshness; organically- certified and dry-farmed vineyards to deepen their connection with the soil; increasing amounts of estate-grown fruit, to allow them to fine-tune the vines to their liking; brief skin contact and aging on the lees to give depth and complexity. All of this has brought the wine forward in a noble pursuit and to make a Sauvignon Blanc that is so indicative of the place in which it is grown, that it could come from nowhere else. JW

For several years now, Frog’s Leap has been experimenting with holding the wine for a longer time before bottling. So far, the results have been positive, and the 2020 vintage saw the longest sur lie aging to date. The wine was given seven months on its lees. The extra lees contact gives this vintage a little more of everything they love about Sauvignon Blanc — more intense mineral and floral aromas, bright fruit, and a bit of extra density on the palate.

Food Pairings:
Seafood, shellfish, chicken, light cheeses and sauces.

Lemon Pesto Shrimp with Broiled Portabella Mushrooms
4 portabella mushrooms
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 lemons, halved
2 tablespoons butter
16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons basil pesto
Balsamic glaze, for serving

Clean the mushrooms with a damp paper towel and remove the stem. In a large zip top bag combine the vegetable oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder and black pepper. Place the mushrooms in the bag and marinate for 30 minutes.

Heat a broiler to high, place the mushrooms on a baking sheet and broil for 5 minutes per side. Turn off the broiler and let the mushrooms stay in the oven to keep warm.

Heat a skillet on high until smoking. Add the lemon halves, flesh side down in the pan and sear until charred. Set aside. Add the butter to the pan and melt over medium heat. Add the shrimp and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until cooked through and pink. Add the lemon juice and salt and turn off the heat. Add the pesto and toss to coat. To serve, add a swirl of balsamic glaze to the plate and place the mushroom on top. Add 4 shrimp to each mushroom and pour any sauce from the pan over the top. Serve with a seared lemon half.


Varietal of the Month: California Sauvignon Blanc

Originating in the Bordeaux region of France, Sauvignon Blanc is a green-skinned grape that creates a white wine that is very different from other white varietals. It grows well around the world and is prolific in New Zealand and throughout California.

The name originates from the French word sauvage, which means wild, because the grape grew wild throughout that area of France. Originally, it was not used to create its own wine. Instead it was used as a blending grape that was added to white wines that were more popular during that time.

Sauvignon Blanc has characteristics that are herbaceous, high in minerality and grass, with notes of citrus and stone fruit.   The mouthfeel is crispy and tart due to the high acidity in the grape and low sugar. These characteristics are more pronounced in New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, rather than California. The California vintages are smoother with more fruit and minerality. Cooler temperatures in New Zealand mean less maturation and sugar development in the grapes. This gives the wine more acidity with a mouthfeel that is tart and grassy.

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