Best known as the namesake, director, and winemaker of one of the great estates of Meursault, Dominique is a descendant of Jules Lafon, who created the revered wine festival, La Paulée. After taking over his family's domaine in the 1980s, Dominique revitalized its red and white winemaking approach. In 2015, after a long friendship with Larry, Dominique joined Lingua Franca as Consulting Winemaker and works with the team to oversee winemaking and vineyard operations.
Can you tell us about your first memory of enjoying wine? What was your first job in the wine industry?
"As far as enjoying wine, the situation is pretty different when you are born in Burgundy... I have always seen wine on a table and had access to it. Wine was always a normal part of life and at that time I didn't see it as anything special. Later in 1981, I had my first job as a cellar intern in California and became close friends with wine industry veterans Mel Knox and Jim Olsen, both long-time wine collectors and big fans of Burgundy. This made me realize how special Burgundy was and prompted me to take over my family estate. This also happens to be around the same time that I first visited Oregon!"
You’ve said that your interest in wine starts with agriculture. What are the main differences you’ve seen between the vineyards in the Willamette Valley and those in Burgundy?
"Burgundy and the Willamette Valley share the same grape varietals and the same cool climate, however the weather patterns are often quite different: in Oregon, after bloom, it's sunny almost every day, but in Burgundy, it's not uncommon to see a fair amount of rain or overcast weather during the ripening season. Oregon also sees much less disease pressure and the vines are easier to manage because they're planted farther apart leaving more space for tractors, plowing and hand work. In Burgundy, we are required to plant 10,000 vines per hectare by law making the vineyard feel more condensed. The Eola-Amity Hills AVA where the LF Estate Vineyard is located gets those amazing breezes from the Pacific ocean all summer, which enhances the flavor profile of the wines."
What have you learned from your time as a consulting winemaker in Oregon?
"I have learned that you can't apply all your tricks that work well in Burgundy. The goal is to achieve great Oregon wines, not a pale copy of Burgundy. Overtime I have learned more and more about the sense of place, with all its potential. Honestly, it feeds my knowledge, and I feel stronger in Burgundy now that I have faced new places, new questions."
What do you like to do outside of work?
"I am an outdoorsy person. I like to walk, bike, ride horses, swim, sail and ski. I like the ocean as much as the mountains! I also enjoy good food whether at home or in restaurant and I listen to a lot of music, from rock and roll (The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Neil Young) to quite a bit of jazz (Miles Davis and Chet Baker) to traditional French music (Georges Brassens, Léo Ferré, Alain Bashung). I wish I had time to play an instrument like the piano or guitar. I read a lot too; I've been living without a TV at home for more than 20 years."
What are you drinking at home these days?
"If I could get enough, I would drink the 2016 Bunker Hill Chardonnay, one of my favorite Chardonnays we've produced. Because many of the Lingua Franca Chardonnays are made in limited quantities and there is often such a high demand, I often find myself drinking White Burgundies (it happens I have quite a few bottles!). In the spring and summer, I switch to drinking Riesling, German or Alsatian, and sometimes Chenin Blanc. But I cannot live without Pinot Noir, which represents about 80% of my red wine consumption!"
Tune in Saturday, July 18th at 11:00 am (PST) to hear Dominique participate in a webinar moderated by New York Times Wine Critic, Eric Asimov. Click here for more details.
1 Cup Dry White Wine (Avni Chardonnay works great!)
4 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Cup Sweet Marsala Wine
10 ounces of Baby Portabella, Shitake, or Crimini Mushrooms brushed, Stemmed and Sliced
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 ½ Teaspoons Fresh Thyme, Finely Chopped
1 Tablespoon Chives, Finely Chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, Finely Chopped
1 Shallot, Finely Chopped
1 Cup Freshly Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
1 ½ Teaspoons Fresh Ground Black Pepper
5 Tablespoons Cold Unsalted Butter, Diced Into Cubes
Additional Salt and Pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 375℉
Mix the white wine and chicken stock in a medium sauce pan and warm over medium heat to a slight simmer.
Remove the silver skin from the pork tenderloin and pat it dry with a paper towel. Mix the salt and pepper in a small bowl and use it to coat the tork tenderloin as evenly as possible on all sides.
For the risotto: put the olive oil in a large sauce pan and turn the burner to medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the shallot and sauté for 2 minutes or until soft and translucent. Do not let the edges burn or turn brown. Add the rice to the pan and mix with the shallot and oil to coat. Sauté for 3 - 4 minutes stirring gently but constantly to avoid burning until the rice starts to produce a slightly nutty aroma. Add enough of the warm chicken stock and wine mixture to just cover the rice and stir to mix. Set the heat level to medium low and let the rice simmer.
Check the rice every 5 minutes or so by running a spatula through the center of the pan. When the rice divides and doesn't immediately fill the space made by the spatula, add another dose of the stock mixture to just cover the rice and give it a few stirs to incorporate. Repeat this step until the stock is used up and the rice is tender.
For the pan roasted pork: While the rice is cooking, put 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a cast iron skillet or heavy steel sauté pan and set the burner to high. When it the oil begins to shimmer, carefully add the pork tenderloin to the pan — it may smoke a bit so make sure your vent hood is running. Let the meat sear for 2-3 minutes, until it releases from the pan without tearing its surface, and rotate a quarter turn. Repeat this two more times to brown the meat on all four sides. When you turn the meat the third time (on the fourth side) carefully put a probe thermometer through the end of the tenderloin as level as you can to the middle of the meat and put the pan in the oven to roast. Remove the tenderloin from the oven when the thermometer reads 145℉ and cover lightly with aluminum foil for 5-10 minutes to let the meat rest.
For the Marsala mushrooms: while the meat is roasting in the oven, combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet and heat over medium-high until the butter is melted and foamy. Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan and sauté for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms start to brown and shrink slightly. Turn the heat down to medium and add 1 teaspoon of chives, thyme and garlic along with the remaining tablespoon of butter to the skillet and stir to combine with the mushrooms. Continue to stir the mushrooms every few minutes. When the mushrooms are uniformly brown and most of the oil has been soaked up, remove from the heat and add the Marsala wine. Stir to deglaze the pan and coat the mushrooms. Return to medium-low heat and stir gently until the marsala is mostly absorbed into the mushrooms.
If the last dose of broth has been incorporated into the risotto, add the mushroom mixture directly to the risotto and stir to combine. If not, move the mushroom mixture to a bowl and cover to hold temporarily and then add it to the risotto when the last dose of stock has been absorbed.
Remove the risotto from the heat and add the Parmigiano-Reggiano to the risotto and stir to incorporate. Then add the cold butter, one cube at a time and stir it into the risotto until it is melted and mixed in. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Slice the tenderloin into 1 1/2 to 2 inch portions. Put a large serving spoon or two full of risotto onto a plate and place a portion (or two) of tenderloin on top. Turn a few grinds of black pepper over each serving and garnish with the remaining chives.
The combination of salty, sweet and savory makes for the perfect pairing to The Plow Pinot Noir. Try it on grilled steak, chicken, salmon or vegetables. Store it in an airtight container for up to three months, or package it in a jar and give it as a gift.
Born and raised in Wisconsin, Joe spent several years working as a biomedical engineer in Los Angeles; however, his travels to wine country on the West Coast and abroad motivated him to rethink his path in life. After working a harvest in Paso Robles, Joe fell in love with winemaking and made the decision to switch careers. He went back to school to earn a viticulture and enology master’s degree at UC Davis, and after graduating he worked harvests on the Sonoma Coast as well as abroad in Germany and New Zealand. Upon returning stateside, Joe put down roots in the Willamette Valley and joined our winemaking team in 2018 as Cellar Master.
What were you doing before you got into the wine industry?
"Prior to switching careers, I was working as a biomedical engineer at a medical device company in Los Angeles, CA. To be a little more specific, I provided pacemaker and implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) technical support for our sales team, physicians, and patients. During this time, I was also accepted into medical school in Chicago. My partner (now wife) Molly and I were enjoying the West Coast, traveling to wine regions and enjoying the great outdoors. I was at a crossroads in my life, and I did a lot of reflecting and meditating on my career choices and my work-life dynamic. In the end, I made the decision to turn down a career in medicine in order to pursue a lifestyle that combines science, art, family and community... wine!"
What was your ‘epiphany’ wine and do you remember that moment? "Not to side-step this question, but I don’t really have an “ah-ha” wine that sent me on this path. Instead, I would say that I was captivated by a specific wine region during one of my international harvest internships: the Pfalz region of Germany, which is known for their amazing dry Rieslings. While working at Weingut Pflüger (a multi-generational winemaking family) in Bad Dürkheim, I witnessed first-hand how wine and community are intertwined. We ate and drank wine every lunch with family and friends, served wine spritzers at a stand at Wurstmarkt, the world’s largest wine festival, and joined in on many of the other local festivities. I did also, of course, drink some spectacular Rieslings from some historic vineyards in the area, such as Pechstein and Kirchenstück."
What do you like doing outside of work?
"I enjoy spending time with my wife Molly and our newly adopted pup named Sir Felton John, cooking, and drinking good wine with friends. It’s a bit dorky, but I also love to read viticulture and enology research papers, and I'm part of a journal club that meets regularly."
What are you enjoying drinking these days?
"My wife and I have been really into Italian wines, specifically Nebbiolo from Valtellina; these wines are bright, floral, and elegant... and much cheaper than their cousins in Barolo and Barbaresco. I've also been digging the “newish” trend of canned cocktails to kick off the summer patio sessions, with the Apicco Spritz from Straightaway Cocktails here in Portland as one of my faves."