Have you found your calling? CBS Sports Broadcaster Jim Nantz found his and he shared that calling with a select few over the weekend right here in New Canaan.
Chef Luis was filled to capacity Friday night for the invitation-only wine-tasting held by the sports broadcaster, author, and now purveyor of wine.
Around sixty guests gathered at the Elm Street restaurant to get a taste of "The Calling," the brainchild of Nantz and partner Peter Deutsch, CEO of one of the world's top distributors - Deutsch Family Wine and Spirits.
Nantz and Deutsch, also a New Canaan resident, came together in a moment that Nantz described as “incredible serendipity.”
Nantz was dining with a family friend and lawyer in Greenwich, discussing how to bring his dream of venturing into the wine business into fruition when Deutsch, who happened to be dining at the same restaurant, spotted Nantz and approached him to compliment his latest novel on his father - a work Deutsch described as “inspirational.”
“Here I am talking about this dream to break into the wine industry when Peter approaches the table,” said Nantz, “Little did I know, Babe Ruth walked up to the table and I had a tryout with the Yankees the next day.”
The two men eventually formed a partnership and developed “The Calling,” a line dedicated to their fathers.
“I wanted to pay tribute to my father for all that he had done for me,” said Deutsch. “When I met Jim, he had just written a book about his dad, so when we came together, we decided to launch a brand that would actually pay tribute to the most important people who shaped our lives. That’s the background behind “The Calling.” It was our calling in life.”
The pair went on to form a relationship with the Dutton Family in world-renowned Russian River Valley.
The first two wines of the night were white wines from the Dutton Farms, the first being “The Calling’s” Dutton Chardonnay, a base Chardonnay, the second being “The Calling’s” Dutton Iconic Chardonnay, picked solely from Dutton’s Jewel Vineyard.
Deutsch noted that “The Calling” now secures the entire production for Jewel Vineyard, where Kistler Chardonnay purchased their crop as of late.
“We tested it over and over again, bringing in experts from all over. This was in a barrel for 12 months,” said Nantz of the Dutton Chardonnay. “It is 100 percent barrel fermented for a purer flavor, 100 percent malolactic fermentation for a creamier texture, 100 percent French oak barrel (60 percent new, 40 percent one-year-old french oak). We’re very proud of it.”
Of those in attendance was host Rick Franco, a vintage legacy and fixture in New Canaan.
The way the wine is made,” said Franco, “it allows the natural ability of the grape to show itself to the wine drinker without having too much oak or too much interference of the wine maker. I think we’re having a wonderful opportunity to taste the Chardonnay grape and the Cabernet grape in the most expressive form.”
Franco introduced Nantz and Deutsch, but not before commending the Deutsch family’s success.
“The Deutsch family has had some very fortunate times in the beverage industry, but these things do not happen by chance. The great general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey, who brought Jackie Robinson into the major leagues, said, “Luck is the residue of opportunity and design." That describes the Deutsch family very accurately.”
Also in attendance were the likes of Ted Shaker of New Canaan, who hired Nantz at CBS in 1985, fellow CBS sports producer Bob Dekas, and CBS Sports producer Jim Rickhoff.
Neighbors, friends and family enjoyed several courses crafted by Chef Luis while Nantz and Deutsch went on to introduce the remaining two wines of the night - a Cabernet from Rio Lago Vineyard in Sonoma and a proprietary blend developed by Nantz and Deutsch called “Tribute” for its dedication to the duo’s fathers (a line is also in the works for the Nants and Deutsch matriarchs).
Chef Luis pulled out all the stops throughout the night, sending his waitstaff flying from table to table with prosciutto wrapped scallops and butternut squash and juicy steak. The restaurant holds a special place in the hearts of Nantz and Deutsch, who had their first meeting at Chef Luis.
To stay updated on when each wine will be released, contact Visit "The Calling" website for more information on the line.