Larry Stone worked his way through school at the UW (chemistry) selling wine at the Red Cabbage (long gone). His uncanny palate, his encyclopedic knowledge, and his ability to sell wine to international connoisseurs as well as waterfront tourists propelled his career. Stone was still a hometown Seattle guy — the sommelier at the Four Seasons Olympic — when he won the title of "World's Best Sommelier in French Wine & Spirits" in the late 1980s, and has dwelled ever since in a celebrity realm: Charlie Trotter's, Rubicon, the Coppola wineries, and, for the past year, Evening Land Vineyards.
Evening Land is a project develped by a New York lawyer and Hollywood producer, Mark Tarlov, that combines Oregon and California vineyards with French viticultural know-how. The winemaking consultant is none other than Dominique Lafon, the rock star winemaker of Burgundy.
Lafon's involvement in Oregon's Eola Hills is chronicled in Katherine Cole's brilliant Voodoo Vintners, reviewed in Crosscut last week, but there's a follow-up that's not in the book.
"The Demeter people [who hold the copyright on the Biodynamic name and whose imprimatur is law when it comes to Biodymic certification] came to the vineyard and told Dominique he'd have to do something differently," Stone told me during a visit to Seattle this week. "The tisane was in the wrong cow horn, or something. And Dominique told them, hey, this was his vineyard, and he knew best for his vineyard, and they could go eff themselves." Which is why Seven Springs isn't an official Biodynamic vineyard. (One is tempted to add, "Tough luck, suckas.")
Stone was in town for an appearance at RN74 for the first in a series of wine dinners (scallop, squab, strip loin, vacherin, served with five Evening Land wines). As it happens, Stone was also a mentor to RN74's current wine director, Rajat Parr. Next up in RN74's dinner line-up: Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat.