As sommelier at Rajat Parr and Michael Mina’s RN74 in Seattle, USA, Luke defines his function with sweet modesty. “I help create enjoyable food and wine experiences for guests”, he tells me. He is another lover of Riesling, in fact, Luke describes the variety as his benchmark, with his favourite white the Donnhoff’s GG Riesling. “If I’m a castaway on some desert island, with only one wine to drink…”, he offers.
With his Code38 he last opened a magnum of Domaine Charvin Chateauneuf-du-Pape. But the wine he considers most exciting to open with the knife was a Domaine de la Romanee Conti, Grands Echezeaux 1991. ”There is always some trepidation opening older bottles”, Luke tells me. “I was excited to match the long Code38 auger to an equally long cork. The cork came up beautifully and in one piece.” It’s the ergonomic sensitivity he loves about the Code38, the way its mechanics take a lot of work out of opening a bottle of wine.
Recently Luke tried a Takahata Cabernet/Merlot Classique 2008 from Yamagata Prefecture in Japan. It had been very kindly shared by a Tokyo sommelier and was “not only surprisingly delicious but also reminiscent of traditional ‘Claret’. I would love to have a case to drink.”
Favourite wine region is currently the Columbia Gorge AVA in Washington State, USA. “It’s a very small but extraordinarily beautiful area producing balanced wines from a wide array of grape varieties”, he reports.
Luke’s favourite red is an affordable Austrian, the Rosi Schuster, Sankt Laurent, from Burgenland. The one he is suggesting for other Code38 members to try is, however, Domaine de la Voie Blanche, Le Petit Manoir. “Pure Merlot from a small family winery in Perigord Noir, France”, he says. “The climate and soils are rather identical to those in nearby St Emilion.This wine reveals dark fruit, savoury herbs and spices. Its texture and structure call for the rich, flavourful food of Perigord.” Duck confit with potatoes the perfect match! Luke says that this wine can be bought at the Domaine; the proprietors (Marc-Andre and Nathalie Dalbavie) very usefully speak English.
Last Christmas was especially memorable for him. “I spent (it) with my boss’s friends and family”, he recalls. “Each guest was charged with preparing and pairing just one food course and a wine. There were sixteen courses and sixteen bottles. It’s a brilliant way to celebrate the convivial holiday and sample a variety of wine and food.”