The refreshing charms of Sauvignon Musqué
The Lange Twins family leads the way with an innovative white wine
"Thirst comes with summer," an ancient Roman poet once wrote. So what is the ideal summer quencher? It stands to reason that it is something cold and refreshing; and among wines, those made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape would be naturals. The 100 percent estate grown 2011 LangeTwins Lodi Sauvignon Blanc ($13) is tailor made for summer for two more reasons:
• One sip of this bone dry white wine makes you salivate for toothsome salads in refreshing vinaigrettes, or fresh seafood, hot or cold, braced by salsas or simple twists of lemon
• It's priced fantastically for something so flavorful – a white wine with notes of lush honeydew and wedges of fresh apple laced with its own lemony nuances; and a taste that is bone dry, bright and zesty with dancing, tingling, citrusy sensations – not too heavy, not too light, but just right (at 12.9% alcohol).
LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards is one of Lodi's largest and most respected growers; led by fourth generation twins, Randy and Brad Lange, with their kids now actively involved in the business.
David Akiyoshi, the LangeTwins winemaker, is a second generation Lodi vintner. Prior to joining the Langes, Mr. Akiyoshi spent twenty-five years as the production manager of Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi. While walking us through the Langes' Jahant Woods Vineyard, where their Sauvignon Blanc is grown, Akiyoshi told us, "Sauvignon Blanc is one of the first grapes to set fruit and get harvested each year –usually as early as mid-August – unlike red wine grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, which is usually picked in mid-to-late October."
The advantage of picking grapes earlier in the season lies in when the grapes' natural acid levels are still crisp and zingy – giving us refreshingly tart sensations in the wine. There is, however, some danger to picking grapes like Sauvignon Blanc at lower sugar levels: Sauvignon Blanc's well known tendency towards a varietal character commonly associated with green or grassy, weedy or downright vegetal/bell peppery aromas and flavors. Who wants a white wine that tastes like cut grass or green vegetable juice?
LangeTwins, however, has two things going their way, preventing that from happening:
1. The benign Mediterranean climate of the Jahant/Lodi region has fertile yet well drained sandy loam soils, which allows Sauvignon Blanc grapes to ripen just long enough to pass gracefully through its "green" stage. Contrary to what's become less and less a "common knowledge," Lodi does not get desert hot like the rest of the Central Valley – its growing seasons are actually a shade milder than parts of mid-Napa Valley, Sonoma's Dry Creek Valley, and most of Paso Robles.
2. LangeTwins' Jahant Woods Vineyard is planted completely to a relatively rare, more floral, fruitier, and significantly less green or weedy clone of Sauvignon Blanc—the Sauvignon Musqué, which Akiyoshi describes as "an entirely different animal, not widely planted in California."
During his years working for Mondavi, there was no Sauvignon Musqué available in Lodi for Akiyoshi to work with. LangeTwins' own plantings of Sauvignon Musqué did not go into the ground until 1999. Says Akiyoshi, "the Musqué gives us the advantage of achieving phenological ripeness and sugar accumulation along parallel lines. More importantly, it gives us wines with a good mix of melon and grapefruit flavors without any green or vegetal tastes – if anything, just nice hints of fresh green pea in the fragrance."
In the winery, Akiyoshi ferments and ages the LangeTwins estate grown Sauvignon Blanc entirely in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks that help retain a purity of the Musqué fruit, without distracting tastes of oak. To round out the otherwise sharp taste of acidity, Akiyoshi and his team keep the wine in contact with dead yeast cells, called lees, stirring them up about once every other week – a practice the French call sur lie.
"Sur lie adds mouth-feel, while helping to hold and balance out the acid," says Akiyoshi, while adding: "not all winegrowers are created equal, and LangeTwins is among the best when it comes to viticultural techniques that ‘raise' wine quality in the vineyard, rather than us having to somehow make it happen in the winery. A great appellation (i.e. Lodi) gives us an extra advantage." The result? A perfect summer refreshment, indeed.
Wine Tours and Tastings
The Lodi winemaking industry has enjoyed tremendous expansion in the last decade. The land devoted to vineyards has increased from 46,000 acres in 1996, to nearly 100,000 today. Now the region produces more fine wine than Napa and Sonoma combined! The Lodi appellation is proudly blowing away the mists of anonymity that have shrouded local wines, allowing them to bask in the sunshine of worldwide recognition. We invite you to take a short ride and discover Lodi Wine Country for yourself.
17343 N. Cherry Rd
Lodi, CA 95240
12001 S Highway 99
Manteca, CA 95336
Harney Lane Winery
9010 E. Harney Ln.
Lodi, CA 95240
Heritage Oak Winery
10112 E. Woodbridge Rd.
Acampo, CA 95220
Klinker Brick Winery
15887 N. Alpine Road
Lodi, CA 95240
4580 W. Highway 12
Lodi, CA 95242
Van Ruiten Family
340 W. Highway 12
Lodi, CA 95242
100 East Taddei Road
Lodi, CA 95220