Evening Land Wines
Wine Spectator's killer scores for Evening Land Vineyards wines plus great fruit from one of Oregon's most respected vineyards, Evening Lands' Seven Springs, has everyone smiling.
Evening Land Vineyards' consulting winemaker is the world famous French winemaker Dominique Lafon. Isabelle Meunier is Evening Lands' winemaker at Seven Springs Vineyard.
The name Evening Land Vineyards was inspired by the irresistible lure of Homer's ideal garden. A wedding gift to Zeus, the Gardens of the Evening Land bear witness to the eternal magic of the perfect orchard located just beyond reach and under the golden glow of the Evening's setting sun.
More About Evening Land Vineyards
Evening Land Vineyards produces estate grown pinot noir from vineyards in three acclaimed terroirs: The Sonoma Coast, Santa Rita Hills, and the Eola Hills of the Willamette Valley.
After acquiring the storied California Occidental Vineyard in 2005, Evening Land added Oregon's Seven Springs Vineyard to its portfolio in 2007. A third vineyard on the westernmost edge of the Santa Rita Hills is under development.
Talk to Evening Land owner Mark Tarlov about wine and he'll reference ideas from quantum mechanics to Greek mythology to the nature of infinity. He uses the tension of opposites and the idea that there is no finality in complexity to describe the experience of tasting good Pinots. He compares them to Cabernet, which he dismisses as a black and white, on and off kind of wine that is easily understood. In so many ways, Mark is leading Evening Land in new directions, expanding the meaning of Oregon Pinot noir and bringing it to new markets.
Oregon Wine's Mark Tarlov
A creative businessman from outside the wine industry is coming up with some out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to developing his new winery, including a clever way of fast-tracking his wines to consumers.
Although Mark Tarlov is the new kid on the wine block with his Evening Land Vineyards, the New York native is no newcomer to all things wine, especially Burgundy and Pinot Noir produced in California and Oregon. Despite his passion for Pinot, however, he comes to the wine industry from an unusual route, including the U.S. Supreme Court (where he wrote speeches for Justice Warren Burger), contract negotiator for movie studios, movie producer and director.
His out-of-the-box thinking includes involving some of the country™s most knowledgeable sommeliers to custom blend a wine in a contest. The ONCE Sommelier Series is offered to selected restaurants and specialty wine shops, with great word-of-mouth attention and recommendations from the sommeliers themselves.
Who better to talk about our wine than sommeliers?ť says Tarlov, a bicoastal Burgundy aficionado with a home base in New York City. śWhen you have so many wines to choose from, having sommeliers as part of our program makes sense. I learned a great deal from them when dining out”they are the point of entry at fine restaurants.ť
Tarlov is a bright, creative thinker who is not hindered by all things he can't do in the creation of his wine portfolio. He has put together a series of top quality vineyards in California and Oregon to make his wines, plucked some famous names in the industry to help, started a private label of wines especially made for high-caliber restaurants and created the wine-blending contest to pull in some of the top sommeliers, thus fast-tracking his wines out of obscurity right off the bat.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Evening Land Vineyards grows estate pinot noir from several highly acclaimed terriors: the Sonoma Coast (the Carl Myers Vineyard and the Occidental Vineyard), Santa Rita Hills (Looking Glass Vineyard in Santa Barbara County) and in the Willamette Valley of Oregon (Seven Springs Vineyard in the Eola Hills). Tarlov brought in Dominique Lafon for the Oregon wines, a superstar in the Meursault district of Burgundy, well known for brilliant, but hard-to-get Chardonnay. LaFon brought in Isabelle Meunier as primary winemaker, who worked in Niagara, Canada with former Oregon winemaker (Lemelson) Thomas Bachelder.
The Evening Land team in Northern California includes Sashi Moorman, former winemaker at Stolpman (fabulous syrah), and consultant to Red Car wines, who came highly recommended by Tarlov™s friends in the wine industry.
When I approached Sashi, he played me,ť said Tarlov with a grin. śSashi said he might be interested in working for me. Now, I have dealt with movie moguls and some of the biggest negotiators in the movie industry, and here™s this guy who looks like a 12-year-old I never heard of telling me he might be interested. I was immediately engaged.
And he graduated from Vassar”a thoughtful man who was passionate about Pinot Noir, despite the fact he was making Syrah.ť
When master sommelier Larry Stone (Rubicon Restaurant in San Francisco) told Tarlov that Moorman śreally understands California and its terroir,ť Tarlov brought him on the team. It was then that Moorman and Tarlov discovered they shared similar interests in food and wine, art, music and politics”cementing the deal for Tarlov.
Dominique Lafon in Oregon A European Superstar for Evening Land Vineyards
Mark Tarlov, wine entrepreneur and genius behind Evening Land Vineyards, brought famed winemaker Dominique Lafon to Oregon. A passionate foodie who has eaten in some of the best restaurants across the U.S., Tarlov had initially asked Lafon, whom he met through his sommelier connections, to make his Evening Land California pinots, when the two ran into each other at a Burgundy tasting in London in 2007. However, Lafon said he was more interested in making Pinot Noir from Oregon, which he says is closer to the style made in Burgundy.
at right, Dominique Lafon
When Lafon said yes, Tarlov realized he had someone with a Burgundian sensibility who was willing to travel to Oregon several times per year and spoke very good English. “That is not easy to find,” says Tarlov.
For Lafon, coming to Oregon was a chance to see old friend and fellow Burgundian Veronique Drouhin (of Domaine Drouhin in Oregon) and other winemakers such as Dick Ponzi, whom he met in Oregon in 1981.
“I have tasted Oregon Pinot Noir, and while it is not the same as wines in Burgundy, Oregon is closer in style to what we do,” said Lafon, on a recent trip to Oregon. “For me, it is about elegance, purity and silkiness, not about alcohol and overripe fruit.”
Well known for his beautifully-crafted Chardonnay, Lafon says he has been making more than 100 barrels of red wine for more than 20 years in the Volnay and Monthélie regions. Lafon owns 36 acres from which he makes Mâcon under the Les Heritiers des Comtes Lafon label.
“I believe in the spirit of the Côte de Beaune—it is in me,” said Lafon, who has managed his family’s estate, Domaine des Comtes Lafon in Meursault since 1987. “With Seven Springs, we work with the land and the soils in the traditional way, looking to create the right balance in the glass.”
In addition to Pinot Noir, Evening Land Vineyards produces small lots of Gamay Noir made from a three-acre plot on Seven Springs, and a Chardonnay (on four acres) that showcases Lafon’s talent for bringing out a beautiful flavors, acid balance and soft mouthfeel of the varietal. Wine industry insiders believe his take on Oregon Chardonnay could change opinions about the less-than-journeyman status of Oregon Chardonnay—and he is willing to share his techniques and ideas with other Oregon winemakers, often joining tasting groups when he is in town.
Isabelle Meunier landed at Seven Springs in July, of 2007, just before harvest and autumn rains. The Quebec native met Lafon in Burgundy, where she trained before moving to Niagara to work in the Canadian wine industry. Starting off with a great vineyard, a mentor in Lafon and a winery owner (Tarlov) who was dedicated to terroir and producing the best wine possible, Meunier says she could not have landed in a more perfect spot.. When Lafon is in town, the two can often be seen with their heads together, speaking in French, hands flying to emphasize points of view, but in the end, frequently laughing. The Seven Springs location and Evening Land operation suits both of them, and each has indicated how fortunate they feel to be a part of the winery team.
Evening Land Vineyards:
Author: Christina Kelly
Evening Land Vineyards is embarked on ambitious plans to import wines from France made under the Evening Land umbrella. The goal is to bring better consumer access to wines only available through gray market channels. These wines will be made by Dominique Lafon for the Evening Land portfolio.
Mark Tarlov's import plans could ignite a new way of doing business with European wineries that could sidestep the gray market channels for hard-to-get wines. Few of Lafon’s red wines get to the U.S. and when they do, they are often snapped up before consumers have a chance to purchase them. Tarlov’s idea could provide a legitimate channel to get the wines directly to the consumer.
The gray market is the trade of wine (or other commodities) through distribution channels which, while legal, are unofficial, unauthorized or unintended by the original producer. (By contrast, a black market is the trade of goods that are illegal or goods distributed through illegal channels). Private interests obtain hard-to-get wine and resell it at a much higher price through auctions or online. The original manufacturer (the winemaker) never sees a penny of the marked up prices, and most consumers pay much higher prices for the wine, if they can find it.
As Tarlov became more involved with the wine industry, he found the gray market disturbing for a number of reasons. Many of the French wines he prefers are brought into the U.S. by an importer and then sold to a distributor on the three-tired system. The three tiers are producers, distributors, and retailers. A producer must sell to a distributor who must then sell to a retailer.
But once the wines hit the U.S. market, they are snapped up by distributors and many of the small, hard-to-get wines never reach retail markets. Eric Asimov, wine critic for the New York Times, has referred to the laws governing the distribution of alcohol as “confusing, arcane, inconsistent, often ignored and rarely discussed.”
After meticulous research, Tarlov approached Lafon about making his French red wines under the Evening Land label and shipping the bottles to the U.S.
“We pick the barrels we want in France, and then the wines will come in as Domaine Lafon produced and bottled for Evening Land Vineyards,” said Tarlov. “We can sell the wines direct to the consumer. This truly becomes a custom crush facility.”
The wines will come in at a more reasonable price, explains Tarlov, thus saving consumers money because they won’t be paying gray market prices through the back channels. In addition, the winemaker will see a little extra money.
“In gray markets, the winemaker never sees any additional money for their efforts,” said Tarlov. “We can get these wines in the hands of consumers and the winemaker will make extra money. I can see other wineries doing it this way, and the winner is the consumer.”
Evening Land Vineyard is dedicated to terroir and the expression of the vineyard in the glass. Tarlov says he wants his portfolio to showcase the terroir from Santa Barbara, Sonoma, the Willamette Valley and France. Wine enthusiasts can taste the wines side-by-side and better understand the place where the vines grow.
“This will lead to conversations and discussions sparked by the wines,” said Tarlov. “That is what it’s all about, allowing wine enthusiasts to taste and smell the differences of micro-climates in a glass.”
Author: Christina Kelly
Author: Christina Kelly
Copyright 2013 Jean L Yates
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