Lingua Franca is a 66-acre organic and biodynamic winery located in Oregon’s Eola-Amity Hills. Eola-Amity Hills is a part of the Willamette Valley, located near Salem Oregon. The winery grew out of a collaboration between two renowned wine legends, Larry Stone, a Master Sommelier, Dominique Lafon and Thomas Savre, two winemakers from Burgundy. Larry and Dominique first worked together at Evening Land’s Seven Springs Vineyard. Lingua Franca, which is located next door to the Seven Springs vineyard, was inspired by a desire for transparency in winemaking and purity in the vineyard, where the vineyard is allowed to speak for itself.
A few years later, Larry acquired the highly coveted nearby Janzen Farm property. “He felt so confident that when a plot of land was offered for sale next door, he didn’t hesitate. In fact, he auctioned off his entire personal wine collection as part of the down payment with plans to plant a vineyard.” A short time later, Dominique took notice and offered to join Larry in the venture. Soon after Thomas joined them to embark on Lingua Franca.
“Twenty-three blocks were planned with different combinations of rootstock and bud wood to reflect the varying soil conditions within the vineyard. From the beginning, Lingua Franca Estate has been farmed on low-impact, Organic and Biodynamic principles”
“It was important from the beginning to respect the biome, the native flora and fauna. Thoughtful farming was one part of it. No-till farming with a permanent cover crop improves soil structure and increases microbial and mycorrhizal activity. Mycorrhizal fungi are like super-highways for nutrients and water, transporting them over a distance to where they are needed most. The nesting of hawks and owls was encouraged, not only because they are beautiful, but because they are effective hunters, keeping the songbird activity in check and controlling voles and mice. Foxes and coyotes in the area reduce rabbit and pocket gopher populations.”
The first harvest took place at the end of summer in 2015 and as they had no winery, they employed the use of a nearby custom crush facility.
2018 Avni Chardonnay
95 Wine Enthusiast
Delicious and refreshing with perhaps a nod to Chablis.
“The aroma is complex with layers of mineral, citrus, and spice. Avni 2018 has nuances of lemon peel,
grapefruit, and a softer edge of pear and vanilla in the background. 20% of the Avni 2018 comes from Bunker Hill Estate and 30% from VanDuzer Corridor, and 9% from Chehalem Mountain. Additionally, some of the best sources from the Eola-Amity Hills have gone into making Avni 2018 Chardonnay.
The whole cluster pressed, settled in tank for 24 hours on average, barrel fermented and then aged in a combination of 16% new, 600-litre puncheons and 64% old French oak barriques and left to age for 11 months. Around 20% of Avni 2018 was fermented for the first time in temperature-controlled concrete tanks before ageing in neutral barrels. Full malolactic fermentation was completed in each vessel and then the wines were put back in the tank with their lees for five months before bottling.
Overall extreme drought conditions shaped the vintage by stressing the vines and lowering the amount of juice in each berry, concentrating flavours. Though Avni Chardonnay is sourced from a number of excellent sites, all are grown on volcanic sites, except for the Van Duzer fruit grown on Willakenzie marine sediments.”
2018 Avni Pinot Noir
93 Wine Spectator
Bright fruit on the nose and palate.
“Avni Pinot Noir 2017 reflects the greater impact of our own Lingua Franca Estate fruit in the wine. The resulting aromas are beautiful expressions of smoke, wet stone, rose petal, black plum, red cherry and savoury elements. It has a remarkable structure and is also layered with seductive fruit. The majority of the fruit for this vintage comes from the Lingua Franca Estate, from various blocks of Dijon Clones and Pommard. The remainder is comprised of fruit from selected vineyards nearby in the Eola-Amity Hills that have similar terroirs and flavours.
This year, Avni Pinot Noir is fermented with around 25% whole cluster fruit. The grapes are fed bin by bin, not pumped, into small format stainless steel fermenting tanks between 2- and 5-tons capacity. Fermentation begins with gentle pump-overs and may include one or two punch downs toward the end of the cuvasion. Pigeage is done traditionally by foot. After fermentation, the wines age in a combination of 22% new and 80% old French oak barriques for 12 months and four in tank prior to bottling.
After late spring rains, the weather was warm and dry, but not too hot. This set the stage for wines of balance, with a complex structure and vivid fruit.”
Lingua Franca Estate Chardonnay
96 Decanter Magazine
This is a delightful, nuanced wine that balances freshness with ripeness. It displays harmony and elegance from beginning to end. As the winery states:
The 2018 Lingua Franca Estate Chardonnay aroma is a combination of creamy lemon custard, grapefruit zest, jasmine and vanilla. While it has the richest aroma and texture of all our Chardonnays, it is still lively and bright, lifted by its underlying energy. It is an excellent expression of our vineyard and has already demonstrated the ability to age beautifully.
Lingua Franca Estate Chardonnay is sourced exclusively from our LSV vineyard that gives expression to a distinctively mineral quality in our white wines. Our Chardonnay blocks are located on the stoniest soils we have, over a bedrock of 150 feet of red basalt. Half of our original Chardonnay vineyard acreage is planted from CH548 cuttings taken from the fabled Montrachet vineyard of Burgundy, and the rest is planted with our trusted CH clone 76.
The production of the Estate Chardonnay required a rigorous selection of the best barrels and extensive trials by our team. When the wines were tasted blind the consensus was that these parcels within the Chardonnay blocks were the finest representation of our Estate for this vintage. The wines selected had been aged in a combination of new 600-litre French oak barrels and neutral barriques for 11 months, and then the wines were put back in tank with their lees for five months prior to bottling.
Food Pairing Notes
The Estate Chardonnay deserves to be served with rich and subtle dishes, such as halibut with a chanterelle sauce, sablefish, turbot with a shellfish sauce, plank-smoked Copper River salmon with a dill sauce, lobster with ginger butter, Bouillabaisse or black cod, sea bass, or other richer fish. For more casual dining, it would pair well with a béchamel or a simple cheese-rich dish, such as Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese.”
Lingua Franca Estate Pinot Noir
92 Wine Spectator
Very approachable right now, but destined for greater complexity with time to age.
Sourced from our best-performing blocks of Pinot Noir, the Lingua Franca Estate Pinot Noir begins with a heady scent of roses and red fruits. On the palate, the wine is quite dense and rich, powerful in expression, with a perfect balance of red and black fruits, dark plum, pomegranate and raspberry, then the nuances of wet stone and savoury herbs come through in the lifted lingering finish and velvety texture.
Lingua Franca Estate is a vineyard site that has been coveted for decades and finally planted by Larry Stone. It is beautifully located in the heart of the Eola-Amity Hills, dry-farmed organically on Jory, Gelderman and Nekia soils.
The fruit is sorted in the vineyard, then again sorted by hand, before being brought to the crush pad. 20% of the fruit is fermented whole cluster and the rest is sorted again and destemmed, handled to preserve the terroir of this remarkable site with only whole berries selected for the final wine. It displays the deep, intense flavours of the dry 2018 vintage. Fermentation begins with gentle pump-overs and may include one or two punch downs towards the end of the cuvaison. Punch downs, or pigeage, are done traditionally by foot. After fermentation, the 2018 Estate Pinot Noir aged in a combination of 25% new and 75% old French oak barriques for 12 months and four in the tank, prior to bottling.
Food Pairing Notes
This is a serious but versatile wine that pairs well with a variety of meats, from roast chicken to veal, lamb, or pork.”
Lingua Franca makes a series of site-specific chardonnay and pinot noir wines. These wines represent some of the finest that Oregon has to offer. They have really dialled in on the terroir and precisely what each block has to offer. Attention to detail has paid off in spades.
These wines are imported into BC by Revelry Wines. You can contact Michal Dinn at email@example.com or 250-488-1960 for information on your nearest source for these wines.
And when travel restrictions soon end and you would like to visit the winery, here is their contact information:
9675 Hopewell Rd. NW
Salem, OR, 97304
* Italicized tasting notes courtesy of the winery
(All photos courtesy of the winery)