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Master Sommelier Larry Stone and Lingua Franca Wines

lin·gua fran·ca noun: “a language that is adopted as a common language between speakers whose native languages are different.”

Lingua Franca Vineyard LSV

The headline for this article could read: “Local Boy Does Good!” Larry Stone is one of the most influential people in the wine industry. (Period). One of the first Americans to pass the Master Sommelier exam (#9 in 1988), the only American ever to win France’s Grand Prix de Sopexa competition (better known as the “Best Sommelier in the World”). Wine director for Charlie Trotters. Founder (With Robert De Niro and Robin Williams) of the legendary Rubicon in San Francisco. Dean of Wine Studies at the International Culinary Center.

In 2006, he left the restaurant business to become the Gérant of the Niebaum-Coppola winery, now Inglenook. He worked with Augustine Huneeus at Quintessa, started his own Napa property Sirita and he also ran a négociant firm, Deux Chapeaux, with Daniel Johnnes. In 2010, Stone became president of Evening Land Vineyards, where he collaborated with Burgundian winemaker Dominique Lafon. Today, Evening Land is in the capable hands of Stone’s Protégé Rajat Parr.

In 2012, Stone started a new winery next door – Lingua Franca.

Larry Stone tasting at Esquin

Stone brought together a team led by Dominique Lafon. Who is Burgundy’s best-known winemaker, his name is attached to one of its most famous Domaines -Comte Lafon. The Comtes Lafon domaine, contains well over three hectares of premier cru vineyard as well a piece of burgundy’s grand cru Le Montrachet. Lafon Montrachet sells for thousands of dollars a bottle. He has been rightly called “the Wizard of Burgundy.”

He also brought on board winemaker Thomas Savre, who worked with stone and Lafon at Evening Land after working at luminary Burgundian properties as Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Domaine Dujac, and Maison Nicolas Potel. To manage the vineyards he brought on local viticulturist Mimi Casteel. Mimi is the daughter of Ted Casteel and Pat Dudley, co-founders of Bethel Heights Vineyard. She brings with her a lifetime of living and working in the valley and her families well known reputation for Sustainable and Biodynamic farming.

Stone was in negotiations with Evening Land’s neighbors to purchase the land adjacent to the famed Seven Springs Vineyard, even before he left the project. After he left Evening Land the Janzen family approached him with a deal to buy the land. He sold his stake in Sirita Winery, auctioned off his personal wine collection and convinced a few friends to invest.

They cleared the land – removing fruit and Christmas Trees – planted a vineyard and built a winery, designed by Lafon and Savre. Across the road from Seven Springs it is also adjacent Domaine Serene’s Jerusalem Hill Vineyard, Argyle Winery’s Lone Star Vineyard and Domaine Drouhin’s Roserock Vineyard.

A perfect vineyard sight, a remarkably capable team and an astute understanding of the wine business. It is not surprising these wines are already creating a buzz. Lingua Franca is being poured at high-profile Paris restaurants Vitus, Taillevent and Spoon. Impressive for a new minted American Pinot Noir.

The entire first vintage from Lingua Franca received 90 plus point scores from Wine Spectator! With The Tongue N’ Cheek making it in the

Lingua Franca Avni Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills 2015 $36.99 btl

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. 772 cases made.

92 Points Wine Spectator

He told me, “We are not trying to make ‘burgundy’, although that is of course an influence. We are making wines of very little intervention, wines of place”. Stone describes it as “exploring Oregon with the mind of Burgundy.” The name Lingua Franca represents the concept of universal language, of bringing people of different worlds to common ground – shared conversation, shared enjoyment. Lingua franca could be described as a conversation between Oregon terroir and years of traditional Burgundian winemaking.

If you were to make a list of what you would need to make a great wine, every box would be checked off on the list.

Not bad for the son of refugees.

His mother was a cheesemaker, and his father was a produce buyer at Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Stone was always enamored with food and even making his own wine at age 14. At the UW, Stone was a National Merit Scholar who studied abroad in Montpellier, France, and Vienna. He pursued a doctorate in comparative literature, earning a Fulbright Scholarship to University of Tübingen in Germany.He never finished his dissertation.

He was one of Seattle’s very first Sommeliers’ at a restaurant called the Red Cabbage. Later working at the Four Seasons Olympic before heading to Chicago and Charlie Trotter’s.

Local boy does good, and then some.

 

By Lenny Rede

Leonard Redé is the marketing person here at Esquin Wine and Spirits. An instructor in the Wine Technology Program at South Seattle, he wrote the curriculum for the Associate of Arts Degree in Food and Wine Pairing Sommelier Studies. A classically trained chef and pastry chef he was nominated for educator of the year while Chef Instructor at the world renowned Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. He garnered international attention at his award winning restaurant Sapphire kitchen and bar. A restaurateur, wine steward, chef and educator with over 30 years of industry experience he has a unique blend of culinary and wine expertise. He loves to share his passion for all things gastronomic and he’ll gladly help you navigate the world of wine and is always quick with a wine pairing or recipe.

Arnie’s Lunch with a Burgundy Legend

It’s not every day that you get to sit down and break bread with a legendary Burgundy producer.

Yet that is precisely what happened when I was invited to lunch recently with Laurent Drouhin of Burgundy’s renowned Maison Joseph Drouhin at Seattle’s Virginia Inn by Pike Place Market.

Founded in Beaune in 1880, Maison Joseph Drouhin’s cellars have spread from the historical Cellars of the Dukes of Burgundy and the Kings of France in Beaune (12th-18th centuries) to the Moulin de Vaudon, an 18th Century watermill in Chablis.

The Joseph Drouhin Domaine was assembled parcel by parcel over the years and comprises today 73 hectares (182.5 acres) of vineyards in Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise and Chablis. It is one of the most important domains in Burgundy, with more than two thirds of the vineyards classified as Premier and Grand Crus.

 

Laurent Drouhin who, along with his sister Véronique and brothers Frédéric and Philippe, are the latest fourth generation to run the venerable grower and negociant house in the village of Beaune.

The Virginia Inn is a Pike Market institution offering classic French bistro fare so, naturally, I ordered the Boeuf Bourgignon. It arrived at a perfect time because we finished whites and were starting on the reds. It was old school and excellent!

 

 

Laurent guided us through a tasting of 11 wines; 5 white and 6 red:

 

White Wine

2015 Drouhin Vaudon Chablis $21.99

Nice mineral notes result from the region’s poor pebbly soils of Kimmeridgian limestone. Good value here. Fresh apple, lemon and stony flavors that play off the lively acidity. Stays juicy and long on the finish.

2015 Pouilly Vinzelles $19.99

“Clean and focused, this white evokes lemon, oak spice and mineral flavors. Has plenty of tension and builds to a long aftertaste of citrus and mineral.”

90 points Wine Spectator

2015 Chassagne-Montrachet $65.99

“Notes of petrol, resin and essence of pear and white peach can be found on the nicely layered nose. The rich, full-bodied and very generously proportioned medium weight flavors possess lovely mid-palate concentration while delivering good length on the relatively powerful finish. This is not especially complex at present though there is better aging potential here and this may surprise to the upside.” Burghound

 

2015 Meursault $55.99

“A ripe but classic nose of hazelnut and fresh white orchard fruit aromas is trimmed in a hint of matchstick. The rich, full and naturally sweet middle weight flavors also possess fine depth and length for a villages level wine. This is seductively delicious if a bit less energetic but richer and one that should repay 4 to 6 years of cellar time.” Burghound

2015 Drouhin Oregon Roserock Chardonnay $31.99

“Pale yellow-gold. Intense, mineral-inflected orchard and pit fruit, lavender and buttered toast aromas are complicated by oyster shell, fennel and vanilla nuances. Concentrated yet nervy and light on its feet, offering palate-staining, oak-kissed pear nectar, Meyer lemon and candied ginger flavors underscored by a vein of smoky minerality. Shows superb energy and power on the floral-tinged finish, which hangs on with serious, mineral-driven tenacity.”

Josh Raynolds, Vinous

 

Red Wines

 

2015 Chorey-lès-Beaume $27.99

“Bright, full red. Cool aromas of cherry, licorice and menthol. Juicy red berry flavors are accented by a hint of licorice. The tannins are firm but not dry, with the persistent finish displaying attractive perfumed lift. This makes the Rully seem a bit rustic by comparison.” Stephan Tanzer, Vinous

2015 Savigny-lès-Beaune $37.99

This is Chorey’s more muscular brother with richer, darker fruit. Laurent said that they declassify some premier crus here, as they do with other village appellations. 18 months in French oak barriques.

2015 Gevrey Chambertin $61.99

“Captivating aromas and flavors of pure cherry, mineral, tobacco and spice mark this supple red. Beautifully balanced, this remains long on the finish, driven by succulent acidity. Best from 2020 through 2033.” Wine Spectator

 

2011 Beaune Clos de Mouches 1er Cru $114.99

The 2011 Beaune Clos des Mouches impresses for its intensity. Green pears, exotic flowers, mint, citrus and crushed rocks are all very much alive in the glass. The flavors are beautifully defined in a salivating, crystalline wine full of personality. Clos des Mouches remains one of the undiscovered jewels of Burgundy in its price range. The 2011 is likely to enjoy broad drinking window that will last several decades. Antonio Galloni, Vinous

 

2015 Drouhin Oregon Roserock Zéphirine Pinot Noir $31.99

“Brilliant red. Vibrant, spice-accented red fruit liqueur, floral pastille and incense aromas, along with an intense mineral topnote. Stains the palate with sweet raspberry and spicecake flavors that show impressive depth as well as delicacy and nervy cut. Silky, seamless and precise, finishing with outstanding energy and velvety, slow-building tannins that harmonize smoothly with the deep fruit.”

Josh Raynolds, Vinous

 

Arnie Millan is Esquin’s European Buyer and Resident Expert on all things Burgundy.

 

 

 

Sonoma-Cutrer Lunch at the Four Seasons

I recently had the opportunity to taste through some Sonoma Cutrer wines at the Four Seasons for lunch and it was delightful. We had the single vineyard Les Pierre Chardonnay 2004 and it was shockingly good for its age. We also had a rose and some other chardonnays and pinots here’s how it went.

We started with the 2017 Rose of pinot noir with oysters on the half shell and a perfect pairing in a Salmon Poke.  The wine bright with strawberry and cranberry notes yet slightly savory and dry.

The next four wines we enjoyed with crab salad fresh oysters and a variety of cheeses all Chardonnays.

#1 the Sonoma Valley 2016. The fruit is up front with tropical notes Mango and pineapple typical of a warmer site wine, VERY GOOD.

#2 the Russian River 2015. This wine has more depth and is more of a Burgundian style with Lemon in a liner style.  I like this wine a lot especially with the Oysters.

#3 The Cutrer 2016 – A single vineyard wine with the soil being an ancient sea bed with multifaceted rolling hills and swales.  This is a richer style with Nectarine, Butter scotch and Lemon Curd, Delicious.

#4 Les Pierres 2014 – This vineyard is a Viticulturists Dream known worldwide for its’ mineral essence and poor water retention which stresses the vines. The wine is very Burgundian in its’ style and has more concentration of mineral. Great aging potential.

#5 The 2004 Les Pierres – Wow what a treat to see how this wine has evolved. The fruit is not so much upfront which is to be expected but present in the back ground and pretty mineral character.

Next the 2015 Pinot Noir one of Sonoma- Cutrer’s best kept secrets made at a different winery affectionately called the Pinot Barn, this facility represents the hand crafted approach to the varietal. The wine has really good concentration of fruit showing cherry, strawberry nuances and cranberry acidity, fabulous with the grilled fresh Salmon I ordered specifically for this wine.

Thanks for reading for any orders or questions e-mail me Jeff@esquin .com

Thanks again

CHEERS.  Jeff

Take a tour of Sonoma Cutrer

Corn Chowder with Dungeness Crab and California Chardonnay

It is Corn Season and around town in farmers markets and produce stands you see bushels of fresh corn. Summer is full of iconic produce – watermelon, cherries, blueberries. Fresh grilled corn on the cob is about as summer as you can get. If you haven’t tried Mexican Style Grilled Corn, Elote, you should. I have a friend who always requests it when we BBQ. There a million recipes and ways to use corn – Corn Chowder, Corn Salad with grilled peppers and Cilantro Vinaigrette, Grilled Chicken with Corn Salsa, a Seafood Boil with Corn and Potatoes .

When it comes to pairing there are many choices, but one always comes first to my mind and that is Chardonnay. Here is a little secret, one of the descriptors for Chardonnay is sweet corn, but it isn’t one your likely to see on a shelf taker or descriptor. But that sweet corn taste is echoed in many chardonnay. Add a little smoke from a grill and it plays well with a little oak, a little butter on the corn? You get the idea.

A truly classic pairing is Blanc de Blanc Champagne and Pop Corn, add a little truffle salt and you have highfalutin/ low brow combo that practically everyone loves.

Chardonnay can go from light, mineral and crisp to full bodied, buttery and oaky. This gives you a range of wines to choose from for pairing. A crisp Chablis will class up your Low Country Seafood Boil with a rich creamy corn chowder a more traditional California Chardonnay is the bomb.

Full disclosure, I am California kid and a soft spot for well-made, well-balanced California Chardonnay. Today I would like to present one of my new favorites.

Grayson Cellars Chardonnay ’16 (CA) $9.99 btl / save$3

If you like chardonnay you will fall head over heals in love with Grayson. 100% Chardonnay and shows loads of tropical fruit, especially mango, pineapple and tangerine, crisp acidity, and an elegant, mid-weight central casting California Chardonnay. “Best Buy!” 11 years in row from Wine Advocate.

Mike O’Connell, owner of Grayson Cellars, believes in using their Napa Valley location and combined winemaking skills to create some of the highest quality wines available at the by-the-glass price point. O’Connell has degrees in Business and Industrial engineering and these skills come in handy when you want to make a lot of really good wine inexpensively. But his real skill is in managing people and hiring the right people. In this case it is Larry Levin.

“Larry Levin, who is among the most experienced winemakers in the Napa Valley. After completing his Enology degree at UC Davis, Larry spent seventeen years at Dry Creek Vineyard. Larry then spent nine years as head of winemaking at Icon Estates, where he oversaw wineries such as Franciscan, Mt. Veeder, Estancia, Ravenswood, Quintessa and Ruffino (making 100 point wines!)” Larry knows good wine. We don’t usually get these kind of winemaking skills at this price point.

“A frequent entry into these best buy pages, winemaker Larry Levin knows how to fashion flavorful, authentic tasting whites and reds at bargain-basement prices.” -Robert Parker (Nov. 2014)

If you are looking for good Chard for next weekend BBQ, fish Boil or Sunday supper look no further.

This wines pairs beautifully with my corn chowder, if you want to fancy it up for company add some fresh cracked crab or avocado or both to the top! Then some fresh crusty bread and good bottle of Chardonnay and call it a day!

Lenny@esquin.com

Corn Chowder with Dungeness Crab

Ingredients

 

1 medium yellow or white onion

1 stalk celery

1 tablespoon butter

4 ounce bacon

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups chicken broth or clam juice

2 cups water

2 red or Yukon gold potatoes

1 clove garlic, chopped fine

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

4 ears fresh sweet corn or 4 cups frozen corn (fresh is better)

½ cup Cream

Salt to taste

Parsley to garnish

16 oz Dungeness crab meat



Method

 

  1. Peel corn and using a sharp knife cut kernels off cobs.
  2. Finely dice onion and celery.  Peel and thinly slice then dice the potato and set aside. Dice bacon.
  3. Heat a heavy stock pot and add the butter. Add the bacon and sweat add the onion and celery, stirring often until onions and celery softens.
  4.  Add flour and cook until a roux forms.
  5. Add chicken broth and water, stir until velvety and thickened.  Add diced potatoes. Add white pepper, thyme and bay leaf.
  6. Simmer gently for twenty minutes
  7. Add corn and cook for 5 minutes
  8. Remove from heat partly puree with emersion blender.
  9. Return to heat, add cream and slowly heat.
  10. Salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Simmer till soup thickens. Pour in bowl, add crab meat (2 tablespoons per bowl) and garnish with Parsley.

 

Serve with a gerat Chardonnay.

Yield 6 – 8  servings

 

 

Weekend Wine Pairing ~ Vintager Chardonnay + Crab Tostadas with Sriracha Guacamole

Okay,  I start to really miss California when it snows in the passes in May, and the rain never ceases. Yes, I am a California native, albeit I have lived in Seattle for over 32 years, so that has to count for something, right? Oh, I do have certain California kid peccadillos. Like when my northern brethren claim indisputable expertise on Mexican food, or when I find myself defending a fondness for Zinfandel or a certain style of California Chardonnay.

Take for example a new Chard we just found.

The Californian Vintager Chardonnay Knights Valley 2012 $14.99

This is an elegant barrel aged chard produced from hand harvested grapes in the legendary Knight Valley AVA, home to winemakers like Peter Michael. Coastal fog and conifer trees create a special cool climate that gives the resulting win a balance of fruit and fresh acidity. Full bodied, yet balanced with well integrated oak and a long seductive finish. Honey crisp apple, blood orange and just a touch of vanilla give this wine all that classic Northern California Chardonnay appeal.

Only 748 cases of this wine were produced by winemaker Sam Jennings, The Vintager Chardonnay is true small production wine.

Yes, and there are certain dishes that pair perfectly with that certain style of Cali Chard – Smoked Chicken Salad, grilled Salmon, Lobster. This wine would be perfect just sitting on a sunny deck with some friends, but this also would be awesome with my Crab tostadas! Recipe below

Join us and taste this extraordinary Chardonnay, Saturday May 20th, at Esquin 2 pm to 5 pm!

xo Lenny

Crab Tostadas with Sriracha Guacamole

1 (16 ounce) package tostadas ( or fresh made)

16 ounces Dungeness crab

1 lime, juiced

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

***** Garnish

2 tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 red pepper, finely diced

1 jalapeno, finely diced

1⁄2 medium onion, finely chopped

¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped

*****Guacamole

3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled

1 lime, juiced

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon Sriracha

1/2 medium onion, diced

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoon sour cream

  1. You can fry your own tortilla but store bought are just fine
  2. In a large bowl, pull crab apart and check for any shell pieces. Combine lime juice and olive oil and dress crab with dressing and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. In another bowl combine diced tomatoes, diced peppers, onions and cilantro.
  4. In bowl of food processor combine all ingredients and pulse until well comined.
  5. Spread 1 tablespoon Guacamole on tostada top with 1 ounce of crab meat and garnish with pepper mixture

Crab Tostadas with Sriracha Guacamole Printable Recipe

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