That said, every once in a while a wine comes along that knocks my socks off. It doesn’t happen often. I live in a rural area where tastings are few and far between. This blog and the associated learning experiences are a labor of love, done as a sideline and out of tremendous curiosity as a result of falling in love with wine for the second time in my life, on my birthday in 2010. (The first time was in the early ’80s, with the big Napa wines of that era.) In fact, on that auspicious evening, I fell in love with not one but two wines: 2007 J.L. Chave “Mon Coeur” Côtes du Rhône, and 2009 Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc.
When that occasional wine overcomes my heart and senses with its beauty, it reminds me of what it feels like to savor the best kisses on the planet (Thank you, Clark). After the wonders that accompany being in love, next on the list of my favorite sensations on earth is déjà vu—that unearthly, rich, vertigo-like impression of “what is this again? what IS this? where, when, whaaaaa?” A couple of déjà vu experiences have ended up influencing the rest of my life: once with a scent (Shalimar, which I wore exclusively for 20 years, and often wear to this day) and once with a mind-bending flavor: truffles.
To my amazement, this $12 California Cabernet (actually a blend) evoked déjà vu yet again, because in its essence from start to the very long finish, I experienced TRUFFLES. The earthy, buttery, mysterious yet bright, amazing, unmistakably excellent taste of TRUFFLES.
Oh. My. Word. How do they DO that?
Maybe it’s a combination of the Bordeaux style of winemaking, and aging in French barrels. I don’t care. So far, this is my Wine of the Year. Although not a typical Cab, it was very interesting and gave me a delicious, engaging, and new experience.
APPEARANCE: Garnet-colored with clarity.
NOSE: Dark fruits, dust, and brilliant, rich high notes. This was a wine I wanted to just sniff and sniff, except that each sip brought …
TASTE: … an explosion mid-tongue of TRUFFLES. Just exquisite. The French oak aging brought the expected tightness to the structure. With a little caramel, black cherry, cola, and pipe tobacco, faint threads of the Cab were evident, but heavy-handed they were not.
FINISH: Truffles were on the very long finish, too, and the tannins bode well for this delicious, chewy wine to cellar well. Quite frankly I wouldn’t recommend pairing this wine with anything—enjoy it by itself.
LABEL NOTES: “For five generations our family has lived and worked our land in Lodi, California, always striving to leave the land in a better state for the next generation. The delightful Gen5 Cabernet is finely-structured with juicy black fruit flavors, floral aromas, and a rich finish. From our certified sustainably-grown estate vineyards.”
The tree rings on the upper right of the label designate years and generations: Parents at the top, followed by children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.
Gen5 is a joint venture between LangeTwins Winery and Vino del Sol.
92 points (’09), Wilfred Wong: “Taking Lodi into a whole new level, the finely-tuned ’09 Gen 5 Cabernet shows intricate and complex flavors; ripe for sure, yet classy and refined; long finish. Deep ruby color; fine aromas of black fruit and polished leather fine depth; medium bodied firm and coating on the palate; dry medium acidity balanced; ripe red fruit currants bright and alive; earth and leather in the aftertaste.”
“During the 1870s our great-grandparents, Johann and Maria Lange, emigrated from Germany to Lodi and began a family farm growing watermelons with their son, Grandpa Albert. The farm grew year over year and by 1916 we had our family’s first grape ranch. It was on this ranch where our dad, Harold, was born in 1920. Just like his father, it was natural for Dad to work with Grandpa to gain experience in order to carry on our family’s agricultural roots. Grandpa and Dad’s farm expanded to include the River Ranch and the DeVries Road Ranch, where we were raised. We continued the tradition of working the vineyards and in 1974 we decided to farm on our own. It was an exciting time for us because as we grew our business, our family grew as well. Identical twins, we were both married (Randall to Charlene and Brad to Susan) and by 1982 the fifth generation was here. Between our families we have five kids — Marissa, Aaron, Philip, Kendra and Joe. As the kids grew up on the River Ranch they developed an appreciation for winegrowing by working summers and harvest with us. After college they each decided to come back to the family farm, so we took the next step and built a winery in 2006. Today we all have unique responsibilities within the winery and viticulture teams, continuing our agricultural roots and growing our winery and wine brands. As fifth generation winegrowers we look forward to working with the sixth!”
—Randall and Brad Lange
Description: We strive for a friendly Cabernet Sauvignon, with juicy red and black fruit flavors that is well-balanced and textured and soft on the palate.
Total Production: 10,000 cases
Winemakers: David Akiyoshi [25 years at Mondavi] and Karen Birmingham
Winery: LangeTwins Winery
Vineyards: Estate vineyards in Lodi, California
Climate: Classic Mediterranean. Lodi takes advantage of the gap between the northern and southern coastal ranges surrounding the San Francisco Bay. As the day’s temperature rises, cool breezes drift in from the Delta, keeping the nights cool which is ideal for the development of complexity in finished wines.
Soils: Well-drained rich mineral soils, sandy to clay loam.
Varietals: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon; 8% Merlot; 4% Petit Verdot; 3% Malbec.
Average Age of Vines: 25 years
Sustainably Farmed: 100%; Lodi Rules
Sorting: Vineyard sorting
Winemaking: Grapes are fermented 12 days at 84F. Wine undergoes extended maceration on skins up to 30 days to maximize varietal expression.
Malolactic Fermentation: 100%
Aging: 12 months with French (80%) and American (20%) oak.
Residual Sugar: 1.7 g/L
Acidity: pH of 3.61; TA of 5.4 g/
Sample received for review.