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Cheers,

Joe Lange

This past year we were busy designing new labels like the Pinot Grigio and Petit Verdot Petite Sirah, and redesigning the Family Core, Midnight Reserve, and Single Barrel Petit Verdot. Why? I wanted something to do… JUST KIDDING!!

It all began with the Family Core label. The original label didn’t do the best job of portraying who we are: (1)A Family (2) Dedicated to Sustainable Winegrowing. With those two ideas, we worked with Nagy Design to create the new Family Core label.  In the process there was a slight change to the logo, and for consistency across all LangeTwins Tiers, we redesigned Single Barrel and Midnight Reserve.

And it’s not over! There is one important tier that we will begin designing in January. It’s for our Proprietary Tier, which will launch sometime next fall with a high-end Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Take a look at what our total brand architecture:

LangeTwins Total Brand Architecture

For a larger view please click on the picture

Seems confusing, doesn’t it? Why so many tiers and so many wines? So we can offer different wines to you that are unique both in the label design and also in the wine style. But for this design project, we are going to take the total brand architecture and break it down to something much smaller – only the wines that are “Available to Everyone!”:

LangeTwins Distribution Brand ArchitectureFor a larger view please click on the picture

The wines within these tiers are in the distribution network. They are the wines we focus on selling when we head out into the market to introduce LangeTwins to restaurants and fine wine shops!

Now that you have the basic background of where the Proprietary wines fit within the architecture, when we begin designing the Proprietary Tier we will want to make certain that it has the LangeTwins style that is portrayed in the Midnight Reserve and Family Core Tier. And this time it’s not going to be just family, we are counting on you to voice your opinion!

At the end of January we will have initial concepts of the new label and I look to you to get involved and vote for the one that you like the most! The label we choose will be on the bottle a ready for drinking in Fall of 2009!

Our Family of Wines

Everyone pairs wines differently with food, and in less than a week my dad and I will be in Jackson, Wyoming enjoying what chefs at The Wort Hotel pairs with our wines. By the looks of the menu, our Second Annual Wine Dinner at The Wort Hotel looks like it will be as good as last year!

- Truffled Goat Cheese Tortellini with a Lemon Nage paired with LangeTwins Sauvignon Blanc

- Kobe Beef Carpaccio and Roasted Golden Beet Salad with Belgium Endive paired with LangeTwins Midnight Reserve

- Venison En Croute with Foie Gras and a Fig Compote paired with LangeTwins Merlot and LangeTwins Cabernet Sauvignon

- Reinvented Banana Split paired with LangeTwins Chardonnay

If you’re in the Jackson area, please join us on Wednesday, December 10th, at 6:30pm ($69 per person) for a great evening of gourmet food paired perfectly with our wines! For reservations call 307-732-3939.

See you there!

First taste of 2008 LangeTwins Viognier

First taste of 2008 LangeTwins Viognier

For the first time since we opened our winery doors I will be following, learning, and maybe even making decisions on crafting a wine! Of course David and Karen will be there every step of the way, but this will be my first step into understanding winemaking, and how much fun when it’s one of my favorites… viognier.

Viognier is not your usual winegrape. When we planted it in 1998 it was considered an unusual varietal in the Lodi Appellation. So out of the ordinary we named the vineyard “Exotics”. It was a varietal that we were, for the most part, unfamiliar with. We did know it could be difficult to grow due to its susceptibility to powdery mildew, and it had unpredictable yields. Why plant something like this? All because of the end result.

If you have tasted finished Viognier you know it’s like no other wine. Aromas of honeysuckle (a sweet scented shrub or vine that can produce edible nectar), citrus blossoms, ripe white melon, freshly picked peaches and apricots, and ripe pears immediately catch your attention. Though your nose tells you the wine should be sweet, your palate will be surprised to taste a dry wine that has flavors resembling a mixture of the aromas, along with a perfect balance of acidity.

That is what you typically expect, but what about our Viognier? We poured a couple healthy glasses straight from the tank and the first smell that hit my nose is yeast. This is common, especially when the wine is just racked, (racking is moving the wine off the lees and lees are the yeast deposits). Throughout this process the yeast is stirred a bit. But after giving it a moment to settle a tropical nose of fresh cut pineapple came forward, but no perfume notes… yet. Sometimes during this phase of winemaking certain aromas and tastes will diminish, but just give it time and it will come back.

As I taste, the tropical fruit flavors are there, just as I expect, but as I swallow there is a bite from the acid. Yikes! What is this all about?  Tartaric acid. This is naturally occurring in the winegrape. Acid develops in a winegrape and balances as other aspects, like sugar, balance. But sometimes, for whatever reason, the balance isn’t perfect – which is why there is malic acid. Malic acid adds weight to the wine, and will hit your palate in the front. So if it seems like there is too much acid in the front, we add tartaric acid, and if there is a sense of too much acid in the back, it’s time to add a little malic. Not too complicated… and then we did just this. David added a tiny tiny droplet of malic acid and just like that, the acid balance was back. Winemaking is amazing!

Next step for the Viognier… sur lie aging. For 5 months or more the wine sits on the lees to add a savory creaminess. Every few months I will be tasting and noting the changes and progress of the Viognier, lucky me!

The Wort Hotel

The Wort Hotel

The idea for a luxury hotel in Jackson Wyoming was always a dream for the Wort family who homesteaded in Jackson Hole in 1893… and it came true in 1941 when the hotel officially opened after spending a whopping $90,000. Since it’s opening, The Wort has been a favorite spot for locals as well as visitors. Anyone in the town must see the famous Silver Dollar Bar that a German cabinetmaker designed and built using 2,032 uncirculated silver dollars from the Federal Reserve in Denver – which was saved in the fire of 1980.

On a Tuesday afternoon, locals watched as smoke and flames burned the roof… it is said a bird’s nest too close to a transformer started one of the worst fires in Jackson History. The fire burned into the night, collapsing the roof, but only days after the fire there was a sign on the burnt building: “We will be back”. And in less than a year they were back in business! Today, The Wort still carries the same tradition as it did in the past – it is a place to go for both tourists and locals.

With their rich history (67 years this year!) we are pleased to have a wine dinner at The Wort Hotel’s Silver Dollar Grill. Last year we had a great time tasting our wines paired with their wonderful western food in the intimate Clymer Room. From the dinner to the company, it was a lasting memory. And we intend this year to be the same!

So if you are in the Jackson area on December 10th – be sure to come join our family and the team at The Wort for a wonderful evening! Reservations are a must, so please contact The Wort at 307-732-3939 or send a note to Jenelle Johnson at jjohnson@worthotel.com.

Watch out for Wildlife!

Watch out for Wildlife!

It was 78 degrees and sunny when we left Lodi, but when we landed in Wyoming there was snow on the ground and it was 35 degrees during the day with a wind chill that brought the temperature down to 20 at night!

Why Wyoming? With a population of 493,000 (think the population of Sacramento) it may seem crazy to spend time selling wine in one of the least populated states, but think otherwise. With oil and natural gas production, farming and ranching, there are many laidback locals looking for nice wine.

And let’s not forget tourism! Wyoming has almost 10 million acres of forested land! The state’s natural beauty keeps tourism and recreation alive in both the summer and winter. With tourists visiting National Parks like Yellowstone and Grand Teton in the Northwest, to Devil Tower National Monument in the Northeast, the peak season of summer keeps restaurants and stores busy. When December rolls around, the winter attractions like Jackson Hole Ski Resort are full of activity.

This is why we are in Wyoming – a natural playground for the adventurous. The locals are open and friendly and the restaurants are great. A few we visited this trip to Jackson:

The Wort Hotel – The most historic hotel serves yummy Buffalo Burgers
Rendezvous Bistro – The Tuna Tartar was a great start, and the huge Pork Chop was amazing!
Snake River Grill – The Baja Fish Tacos were a perfect along with the Salsa Verde Chicken
Sweetwater Restaurant – A great lunch stop with killer Ahi Tuna Steak burgers

Along with visiting nice restaurants, the trade show with Southern Wine and Spirits at The Rustic Inn was a great time. We introduced the new vintage with the new label, and guests not only enjoyed the wine, but there were also compliments on the new label. That’s a good feeling! We are hopeful the new introductions we made will open doors into additional restaurants and stores that find that our family wines are a perfect fit for them.

After all is said and done, Wyoming is a great place for a sales trip. It may not be 30 restaurant visits within 3 days, but we are making friends with many of the locals – and that is what counts… not to mention seeing the wildlife and Tetons!

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After a chaotic few weeks around the winery (First Sip and our Wine Club Dinner’s administrative duties had me securely chained to my desk) I was finally able to taste the Tannat again.  David and Karen carved out a few minutes of their time for me, which I really appreciate.

Me taking notes with David and Karen

Class in session: Taking notes with David and Karen

I’ve never seen a color as unique as this Tannat’s.  It has this amazingly bright purple edge on it that I spent a solid (and very frustrating) five minutes trying to capture on film.  The bold color of this wine is helped along with some of the winemaking techniques we do here at LangeTwins – extended macerations, delestage, cold soaks, etc.  All these techniques lead to extractive wines that bring forth the true characteristics of the varietal.

Can't capture the color on film!

Can't capture the color on film!

The nose on the Tannat is dominated by berry aromas – and it holds true on the palate.  There are lots of wines that have a fantastic nose and a lackluster flavor on the palate.  How disappointing is that?  This isn’t that wine.  The berry aromas and flavors hold through to the smooth finish.

The lineup!

The lineup!

We’re still in the process of malolactic fermantation (simply, converting malic acid into lactic acid) with the Tannat and it will probably finish in barrel.  Which leads me to the next big decision…

To barrel age or not?  It was a resounding yes, with a caveat.  We’ll be laying this wine down in new American oak barrels next week.  The barrel aging components will integrate with the fruit and add even more body and complexity.  Right now we are thinking about a short barrel age program (maybe just 6 or 7 months?) and an early release for this wine.  It is developing so well right now into a young, vibrant wine, and we are all major fans.  David reminds me that this is my generations’ wine style – I agree.  The Generations Petit Verdot Petite Sirah is one of my favorites right now.

The caveat: we are holding back a portion of the Tannat in tank (no oak) so we have some ammo when it comes time to blend the final wine.  With a portion of tank and a portion of barrel, we’ll have some fun finding the perfect balance for our Tannat.

Next: Barrel tasting? Label designing?  Lots of both!

Stay tuned.  Have a question?  Email me at joe [at] langetwins.com or leave a comment below!

The new vintage of our Midnight Reserve is now in bottle!

Check out the pictures for a sneak peak of the newly designed and updated label.  (Much like what we did with our core wines.)  Like the 2005 vintage, the label is screen printed on to the bottle, giving the finished package a very polished look.

Front label sneak peak!

Front label sneak peak!

Back label coming down the line

Back label coming down the line

Down the line, nice and easy...

Down the line, nice and easy...

More to come on our newly bottled Midnight Reserve in the next few months.  Now starts the waiting game until the release!

Thanks to Nagy Design for all their help with the label and A-T Mobile Bottling for another successful bottling! 

How do mobile bottling lines work?

Julia introduced us to Houston.  It’s a rather long, convoluted story – the bottom line is LangeTwins is now in Texas, via the fourth largest city in the USA, and the glory goes to Julia and her husband, Dr. Luke Burke.  Actually, Luke was just along for the ride – as all of us were – once we met “Julia”.

She is a force to be reckoned with!  We’d never met prior to landing on her front doorstep last Wednesday in a quiet, tree lined suburb of Houston.  Julia is a lawyer by trade and a long time friend of one of our European viticulture clients; the stars seem to align as Julia organized and pulled off three fabulous days of introductions and parties to launch LangeTwins Wines.  Julia is truly an Ambassador to LangeTwins, and we are very grateful for her energy and support.  We now consider her part of the family and anticipate she and Luke will join us to celebrate their 10th anniversary in livable, lovable Lodi at the ’09 ZINFEST!

Our Houston sales team included Randy and I, along with Kendra Jean and our National Sales Manager, Steven Folb.  The first night was the calm before the storm with a special tasting at Cova, an upscale wine shop and bar on Kirby Drive.  Cova’s staff was on-task taking care of us while we pulled corks and polished glasses for the pouring.

The Briar Club on Timmons Lane was evening number two – we were warmly greeted by about 60 of the Club members and had a chance to pour our wines, and meet some of the medical team from Luke’s hospital.  Our new wine – Generations Petit Verdot Petite Sirah with the screwtop was a big hit.

07 Petit Verdot Petite Sirah

Between the on-premise pourings during the day and evening parties, Kendra had to put the older set to shame and run down to the hotel fitness center.  And, as luck would have it, she exercised with Secretary of State Condi Rice – we did notice a big group of guys with ‘wires’ in the elevator the night prior, but didn’t put it together until Kendra boasted her news.

The third night was magical as Julia combined a housewarming with a continued introduction of our wines to Houston.  And this was the night we pulled out the stops and poured a special “Texas Blend” that winemaker David Akiyoshi created just for the tour.  A big red wine, it received rave reviews from the crowd.  The challenge is to now get it officially into the bottle so our new Texas friends can enjoy the fruits of David’s talents.

Over 120 folks poured through Julia’s front door and within minutes they were introduced to our wines.  We left armed with at least 10 new Wine Club members and are hopeful to see these folks again at the “Texas Table” next fall for our annual dinner.

Not to be slighted, our other Ambassador was Stuart Folb, Steven’s older sibling.  Stuart graciously took us to variety of on-premise accounts, including T’afia on Travis Street, where Monica Pope, a James Beard Award nominee, spoiled us with some unbelievable food. In his real life, Stuart is the publisher of the Houston Press.

We’re now home trying to sort out the contacts and find a way to get our wines in the hands of our new friends in Houston.  On behalf of the entire LangeTwins Gang, a hearty thanks y’all – we’re happy to be deep in the heart of Texas and glad to count so many folks as our new friends.

Fox 40’s Bethany Crouch visited us once again on the Friday before First Sip to help draw some more folks to Lodi for the big wine weekend.  She and Kendra played Duck Blind Poker (the best hands won big deals!) and looked around our barrel storage area that was being transformed into a tasting room!

She also joined us at the winery on the following Sunday where she learned about our LangeTwins wines and played poker with First Sip wine tasters!

Come back anytime Bethany – we enjoyed having you!

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