Surh Luchtel. Say it quickly and it sounds like “stealth.” Or sort of. Anyway it’s close enough for me to make my point. Who’s ever heard of this winery? They’ve been open for nearly 10 years but they are only on their second public offering. Presumably up until now their wines have only been available to insiders on their mailing list, or even more likely just to their friends and family.
“Surh Luchtel wines are the result of collaboration between two long time friends Don Surh and Gary Luchtel. First as housemates in college in the Oakland hills in the late 70’s, we became friends over many a bottle and discovered that our wine interests were more than casual,” says their website. They source their grapes from various un-named growers in the Napa valley, and I’d be willing to bet that some of their fruit comes from some very solid vineyards. They’ve been around long enough to have some connections, and their wines are so good they must have some great starting ingredients.
Unlike a lot of people in their situation, however, Surh and Luchtel don’t seem to be aiming for the cult status (and price tag) that one associates with small boutique productions. Heck, they even sell their wine in some markets, like Andronicos. I think you will find, however, that this is definitely NOT a supermarket wine.
Dark ruby in the glass, this wine has a complex nose like the best of Bordeaux. It starts with floral components like orange blossom and moves through black plum, cola, and hints of spices like cardamom and white pepper. The body of the wine is round, full and smooth, with flavors of cassis, blueberry, and sweet oak, with a well integrated tannic structure that is very smooth. The finish is nice and long with hints of anise. As I recall this wine and write this review, I’m struck by the thought that this is probably one of the most accurate renditions of a Bordeaux wine that I have had from a Napa producer.
This is a mellow European style wine that doesn’t have the booming depths of a full cabernet, so I would stick to pairing it with dishes like duck breasts with orange, honey, and tea sauce. The richness of the duck and the tea flavors will nicely complement this wine.
Overall Score: 8.5/9
How much?: $20
Besides the aforementioned market, this wine is carried by various offline and online retailers including K&L and the Wine Exchange.