Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Jumping Frog leads to Good Wine and Good Food at Frog's Tooth in Calaveras County

Frog’s Tooth Vineyards and Winery in Calaveras County of the Sierra Foothills region of California has a fanciful name but a serious intent. 

The fanciful name is a combined reference to Mark Twain’s Calaveras County jumping frog story and the frog colony inhabiting the vineyard’s spring-fed pond.  The serious intent is to fine-tune its offerings and build the brand for sustainable quality.

“Flavors are different in the Sierra,” owner Larry Aderman comments, explaining his narrowing focus on the grapes that present a unique reflection of the local terroir. “Fruit sets the tone for the flavor of the wine, and we want our wine to pair very easily with food.” For Frog’s Tooth, that means an emphasis on fruit-forwardness and avoiding an overpowering tannic finish. These targets are met by “dropping” fruit so the yield is about three tons per acre (compared to a natural yield of seven to 10 tons per acre), and using high quality French and American barrels to avoid an oak-heavy taste.

The current vineyard plantings of Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache, and Petite Sirah will be supplemented with Syrah, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, and Larry’s favorite, Pinot Grigio, now being made with purchased grapes. The Tawny Toad Dessert Wine, a blend of four Portuguese varietals, was one of the multiple Frog’s Tooth vintages to medal at this year’s Calaveras County Fair.   Using primarily grapes from their own estate vineyards and other vineyards in the Sierra Foothills AVA, the winery makes 3000 cases of wine.
Amy Aderman fixes Beer Can Chicken

As with many family businesses, everyone gets involved during a crunch.  Or crush, as the case might be.  Son Nick and daughter-in-law Amy were on hand during harvest, whipping up a meal on the BBQ frill set up near the winery.  Beer Can Chicken – it does take a lot of beer to make good wine, after all.

This is also a perfect dish for football season, so those nice folks at Frog’s Tooth are sharing it with you, below.

Frog's Tooth Vineyards and Winery

Tasting Room
380 Main Street, Suite 5
Murphys, CA 95247

209 728 2700

(You can read more about this winery and meet the family at a special meal that photographer Johan Martin photographed for my forthcoming book...sign up to get updates/alert on publication date ...



(An empty beer can is crucial, and usually found in the wine-making crew’s hand at the end of the day)
1 whole chicken, about 4 lbs
4 cloves of garlic
Bottle of Frog’s Tooth Viognier
2 quarters of butter, soft
¼ C each of rosemary, parsley and thyme (chopped fresh, or if using dried- 1/8 c each)

Fire up the barbeque. Set it on medium-high
From the whole fresh chicken’s cavity, remove the neck and giblets and discard those.
Rinse chicken inside and out, and pat the outside dry with paper towels; discard towels.
Make a mixture of the softened butter and herbs and rub the chicken with that mixture.
Size up the chicken:  if it’s big, get a tall beer can. If smaller, a regular 12 oz beer can will do.
Rinse the beer out of the empty beer can, and open the top with a can opener.
Crush the garlic cloves, and put them in the can.
Fill the can to the 2/3 mark with Viognier.
Put the chicken cavity over the beer can, so the chicken legs and the beer can form a tripod.
Put a piece of aluminum foil or a short-sided aluminum pan on the heated grill, in the middle of the grate. (This will save you a lot of clean-up later.)
Transfer the bird-on-a-can to the aluminum and balance the bird upright.
Use indirect heat (no coals or burners on directly under the bird). Lower the grill’s cover.
Cooking time is approximately 1 ¾ hours. Internal temperature should be 165 F in the breast area and 180 F in the thigh. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, then stab the thigh with a sharp knife and if the thigh juice runs clear it’s likely done.
Remove from the barbeque, and let it sit for 10 minutes before you carve it.

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