For years now there's been talk about Dominique Lafon's new collaboration with Larry Stone in the Eola-Amity Hills. A project between two larger than life figures who've spent years previously working with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in this region. Last month I sat down with Larry in La Jolla and tasted through the inaugural release of his new winery, Lingua Franca. Expectations were high, but the final impression I walked away with was resolute in that these are among the very top wines being made anywhere in America today.
Larry and Dominque had become very familiar with the Eola-Amity Hills working previously with the Seven Springs Vineyard, and in the end Larry planted vines and built his winery right next door. Though their admiration of Oregon terroir throughout Willamette Valley was very high, both found a magic combination here where the entire picture of the wines maintained sharp focus. This was the sweet spot where minerality met ripe texture and the results personified that elusive Burgundian sensibility: Elegance and impact, without the compromise of terroir.
As consulting winemaker, Dominique Lafon of Comtes Lafon in Meursault, has a style that highlights silky fruit and seamless texture. His Volnay and Meursault wines are among the most collected in the world, and early on Larry Stone was a huge force introducing these to America. Larry was the 9th American to become a Master Sommelier and became the very first to win the Best International Sommelier in his competition in Paris. Working with Charlie Trotter's in Chicago and then the iconicRubicon restaurant in San Francisco Larry's work to cultivate the following of Burgundy in the US cannot be overstated.
The Jory and volcanic soils in Eola-Amity proved to be the ideal landing for this joint venture. And recruited from Burgundy was their winemaker, Thomas Savre, whose work in the cellars of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti brought a skilled and meticulous eye into the fold. Lingua Franca is one of the most exciting new estates I've been introduced to. The overall balance and silken purity of fruit to each of the wines ultimately reflect their place. The legendary names that built this winery from the ground up have surpassed even the highest expectations placed upon them.
2015 Lingua Franca Anvi Chardonnay
$40 per bottle.
A blend of Jory soils in Salem, Dundee, and Yamhill-Carlton, as well as Willakenzie and Dupee soils from Laubejac vineyard. Racy, mineral, and seamless.
2015 Lingua Franca Sisters Chardonnay
$90 per bottle.
A blend of the finest barrels from sites in Dundee, Bunker Hill, and Eola-Amity. Unrelenting finish, impressive power and concentration, yet with almost weightless texture. An incredible balancing act.
2015 Lingua Franca Anvi Pinot Noir
$40 per bottle.
A perfect snapshot of the volcanic soils of Eola-Amity that was the impetus for Lingua Franca. Sweet red cherry fruit, smoke, and wild floral notes burst out of the glass.
2015 Lingua Franca Ryan's Plow Pinot Noir
$60 per bottle.
From Jory soils. Mainly de-stemmed with a small portion of tiny clusters fermented whole bunch. A favorite of the top Pinot Noirs released. Signature Lafon sleek and suave texture with fruit so pure you're instantaneously connected to the pristine raw material from vine.