Richard Luftig came by the office today. Who is Richard Luftig, you might ask?
He is the owner/winemaker of Pied à Terre wines, now producing out of Sonoma. In short, Richard is restaurant buyer from New York who decided to make some wine due to the fact that he was having trouble finding the quality he was looking for on the general market - basically without over paying (in his opinion). This is a sentiment that I share and often (as I work in a similar position) I cannot find the right wine or the style I need - but at the RIGHT PRICE!
So Richard wet to Napa and began making with with Steve Matthiasson. Two things happened: Napa got really expensive and Steve Matthiasson started getting really famous. So Richard went to Sonoma, where he was able to secure quality wine and a location to make his wines, but with the overall goal achieved of keeping prices in line with his philosophy. This shows in his wines.
Today I tasted two offerings: the Pied à Terre Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County, 2013, and the Pied à Terre Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County, 2014.
First The Cab...
The first thing that hits you is the nose. It is rich and full with dark, ripe fruit - leaning to an inky edge with briary and jammed dark berries. Texture is good with this wine and this is where the difference in style is achieved. There is a lot of extracted tannin in this wine giving a great supple-tannin-filled palate. This feeling lingers and is balanced with the acidity that is present through the finish. Any steak lover will appreciate this wine, and the retail price in in the $30 range.
With this wine we had a much longer discussion, as I did not feel as though if I came across it in a blind line-up I would have a very hard time picking this wine as Sauvignon Blanc. I started to runt through the various possibilities of white varietals, and I was really at a loss to nail it down as a single varietal style. The flavors are not dominant in citrus, or hay or pepper or any of the standard markers for California or elsewhere SB's. I guess if pressed, I would say that is mirrored a central/northern Italian varietal. The simple answer is that this is a Cali-style white wine, first, then SB, second. I am not sure that a guest looking for the experience of SB on a wine list would really find this wine satisfying that itch. Don't get me wrong - the wine is delicious, just do not expect passion fruit, minerals, or grapefruit skins. Perfect pairing as a winter white for the holiday table (I am thinking Thanksgiving...).
In conclusion, Richard Luftig, who still works the floor as a Somm four nights a week in NYC, and visits California to make wine on his weekends, is really a great find in the wine ocean. Truly unique and interesting wines for any wine list looking to stay clear of the branded default wines.
Industry Community - check out the Pied à Terre website for full insights to what they are doing...click here
You can also see his wine lists at Tenth Avenue Cookshop
Click here to listen to Steve Matthiasson on the I'll Drink to That podcast with Levy Dalton, a podcast CTSOmm highly recommends to get to know.
A 25 year drinks industry expert, Brian has worked on just about every side of the beverage business, specializing in wine & spirits education, staff training, creative consulting, and of course service. He lives and works in Connecticut, where the number of working Somm's is limited, but he hopes through the effort of this site and its related events, that will change.
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