THE WINES OF LINGUA FRANCA

2015 Lingua Franca
Dominique Lafon and Larry Stone Come Out Swinging!
It’s hard to avoid comparing Lingua Franca to Evening Land, so I’m not going to avoid it. After all, Larry Stone, well-known Master Sommelier and former GM of Evening Land is a lead in the project. And, Burgundian winemaker extraordinaire Dominique Lafon is now the executive winemaker – just like he was at Evening Land during their heady, early days of standing Oregon wine on its head (particularly with chardonnay).  Thomas Savry is the boots-on-the-ground winemaker, fresh off his assistant stint at Evening Land. And the big, soaring, artfully minimalist winery and the not-yet-producing estate vineyard are located exactly next door to Evening Land’s Seven Springs Vineyard . . . from which Lingua Franca buys fruit.
There the comparison halts, however. Lafon and Savry have crafted some beautifully focused, taut and tension-filled pinot noirs that use tannins in a manner that few in Oregon achieve — and that are quite distinct from recent Evening Land products. Rather than softer, deeply extracted wines that glow from the toasted oak, these pinots display their relative elegance and fine
Larry Stone
structure as a badge of honor and distinction. The grapes are picked earlier than most, to preserve structure and to avoid excess alcohol. The very common procedure of a cold soak before fermentation – a technique to gain aqueous extraction of color and aroma elements from the skins – is stringently avoided.  The wines are aged in French oak, of course, but never more than medium-plus toast – and on the palate, the structure of the wines absorbs that oak easily, resulting in wines that have a sense of purity.
As a group the wines respond well now to decanting, and to vigorous swirling
Dominique Lafon
in the glass, and to assertive oxygenation in the mouth, to bring out the aromatic compounds. They smell
 as good as they taste, but you’ve got to work them a bit to develop the inner-mouth aromatics at this young stage. A couple of the bottlings are approachable now, while the more expensive offerings are poised to do well in the cellar – and in fact really need a bit of time.
The 2015 wines are all blended from 25 different lots purchased from notable vineyards – the Estate vineyard is not yet in commercial production. The product mix is weighted towards the affordable and approachable Avni label, which includes a pinot noir and a chardonnay.  The upper tier pinots, which feature whimsical names that relate directly to people connected to the winery, are made in diminishingly small amounts. A notable upper tier chardonnay and a saliva-inducing rose round out the wine lineup, which totaled about 4,000 cases for the 2015 vintage.
This is a strong lineup of wines that display uncommon style and refinement, red and white. It’s an opening salvo that has already drawn critical favor. If this were the stock market, I would initiate coverage with a “strong buy” recommendation.
Get the 2015 Lingua Franca wines HERE
The Wines of Lingua Franca
2015 LINGUA FRANCA ROSÉ
OF PINOT NOIR
COEUR LIBÉRÉ
$24 / BOTTLE

 

THIS LOVELY WINE REALLY POPS ON THE PALATE, WITH ASSERTIVE FRUIT, BIG ACIDITY, AND EVEN SOME TANNIN FROM SKIN CONTACT TO GIVE A LITTLE GRIP. CHERRIES AND RASPBERRIES DOMINATE THE FRUIT PROFILE. THIS IS A SERIOUS ROSE, AND A VERY ATTRACTIVE CHOICE FOR A SUMMER SIPPER – IF, OF COURSE, OREGON GETS TO HAVE A SUMMER THIS YEAR.
2015 LINGUA FRANCA CHARDONNAY
AVNI
WS 93 POINTS!
$45 / BOTTLE     
WHEN FAMED WHITE BURGUNDY WINEMAKER DOMINIQUE LAFON MAKES CHARDONNAY IN OREGON, IT SHOULD NOT BE IGNORED. THIS WINE FOCUSED, TAUT, AND INTENSE NOW, AND VIBRANT AND DELICIOUS ON THE PALATE BECAUSE OF IT.
FROM THE WS: “SLEEK AND STEELY, WITH LEMON BLOSSOM AND RIVER STONE AROMAS AND DELICATELY LAYERED NECTARINE AND MINERAL FLAVORS THAT LINGER ON THE LONG, CRISP FINISH. DRINK NOW THROUGH 2019. -TF”
2015 LINGUA FRANCA PINOT NOIR
AVNI
W S92  POINTS!
$45 / BOTTLE
THIS IS NOT A SECOND LABEL TO IGNORE, BUT AN EXCELLENT PINOT NOIR THAT DESERVES ATTENTION ON ITS OWN MERITS. THE FRUIT IS DARK RED, WITH WEIGHTY AND BALANCED EXTRACT AND A LONG FINISH. IT’S A SERIOUS STYLE, BUT IS APPROACHABLE NOW.
FROM THE WINE SPECTATOR: “REFINED AND PRECISE, FEATURING A STRUCTURE THAT’S ELEGANTLY COMPLEX, WITH RASPBERRY AND CINNAMON AROMAS AND SLEEK CHERRY AND MINERAL FLAVORS. DRINK NOW THROUGH 2022.” -TF”
2015 LINGUA FRANCA CHARDONNAY
SISTERS
WS 94 POINTS!
$105 / BOTTLE

 

REFER BACK TO MY COMMENTS ABOVE ABOUT DOMINIQUE LAFON AND CHARDONNAY. THIS IS THE WINEMAKER WHO KICK-STARTED THE MODERN CHARDONNAY REBIRTH IN OREGON BY CRAFTING WINES THAT SCORED RIDICULOUSLY HIGH, PROVING IT COULD BE DONE. HE’S ON TRACK TO DO IT AGAIN AT LINGUA FRANCA.
FROM THE WINE SPECTATOR: “EXPRESSIVE AND ELEGANTLY COMPLEX, WITH APPLE SKIN AND SPICE AROMAS AND PRECISE FLAVORS OF STAR FRUIT, LIME AND MINERAL THAT BUILD MOMENTUM TOWARD THE FINISH. DRINK NOW THROUGH 2019.  -TF”
2015 LINGUA FRANCA PINOT NOIR
“JOSHUA, JUNICHI & SIRI”
WS 90 POINTS!
$56 / BOTTLE
A PORTION OF THE FRUIT FOR THIS BOTTLING WAS FERMENTED VIA CARBONIC MACERATION, DURING WHICH THE GRAPES FERMENT INSIDE THEIR OWN SKINS, IN THE ABSENCE OF OXYGEN, RATHER THAN BEING CRUSHED FIRST. THIS PROCESS CREATES ETHANOL WITHOUT YEAST. THE RESULTING WINE IS NOTABLY FRUITY, JUICY AND FRESH TASTING. IT IS THEN BLENDED WITH TRADITIONALLY FERMENTED PINOT NOIR TO CREATE A WINE THAT HAS A FRESH, JUICY COMPONENT AND A MORE SERIOUS COMPONENT INCLUDING A TOUCH OF FINE TANNIN. OVERALL, THIS IS FUN TO DRINK AND SHOWING WELL NOW.
FROM THE WS: “DELICATE AND PRETTY, WITH A VIBRANT STRUCTURE AND BALANCED BUT DEMURE NOTES OF CHERRY AND STRAWBERRY, ACCENTED BY MINERAL AND SPICE DETAILS. DRINK NOW THROUGH 2021. – TF”
2015 LINGUA FRANCA PINOT NOIR
RYAN’S PLOW
WS 94 POINTS!
$68 / BOTTLE

 

STARTING WITH THIS BOTTLING, THE WINES GET PROGRESSIVELY MORE INTENSE AND FOCUSED, WITH VIBRANT, YOUNG FRUIT FLAVORS HELD IN A FORM OF STASIS BY FINE, FIRM TANNINS. THE STYLE IS A FUSING OF RESTRAINED POWER AND ELEGANCE, WHICH REALLY LIGHTS UP MY PALATE. DECANT NOW, OR HOLD FOR SIX MONTHS TO LET SOME OF THE YOUTHFUL TIGHTNESS EASE, AND THEN DRINK OR CELLAR FOR UP TO TEN YEARS.
FROM THE WINE SPECTATOR: “VIBRANT AND SILKY, WITH A PRECISE AND ELEGANT STRUCTURE, PLUS PRETTY RASPBERRY AND VIOLET AROMAS AND CRISP STRAWBERRY, FLINT AND WHITE PEPPER FLAVORS. DRINK NOW THROUGH 2024. -TF”
2015 LINGUA FRANCA PINOT NOIR
TONGUE ‘N CHEEK
WS 94 POINTS!
WORLD CLASS WINE CLUB
$68 / BOTTLE

 

ANOTHER POWERFULLY ELEGANT BEAUTY! THIS WILL BE OUR WORLD CLASS WINE CLUB SELECTION FOR APRIL.
FROM THE WINE SPECTATOR: “LITHE AND DELICATELY COMPLEX, OFFERING ROSE PETAL AND TART BLUEBERRY AROMAS, WITH EFFORTLESSLY BALANCED RASPBERRY, RIVER ROCK AND SPICE FLAVORS THAT FINISH WITH REFINED TANNINS. DRINK NOW THROUGH 2022.  -TF”
2015 LINGUA FRANCA PINOT NOIR
MIMI’S MIND
WS 94 POINTS!
RESERVE CLUB SELECTION
$105 / BOTTLE

 

THE BIGGEST OF THEM ALL! THIS IS A POWERHOUSE WITH THAT SAME FINE, ELEGANT STRUCTURE AS THE OTHERS, ONLY MORE OF EVERYTHING.
FROM THE WINE SPECTATOR: “LISSOME AND POLISHED, WITH EXPRESSIVE VIOLET AND BLUEBERRY AROMAS AND PRECISE BUT RICHLY COMPLEX FLAVORS OF PLUM, MINERAL AND SPICED CINNAMON. FINISHES WITH REFINED AND STEELY TANNINS. DRINK NOW THROUGH 2023. – TF”

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