The SOMM Journal

June / July 2018

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34 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } JUNE/JULY 2018 { somm profile } DAVE LUND CAUGHT the wine bug as he worked his way through restau- rants in college, so when graduation rolled around, it wasn't a hard choice to trade in his economics degree for a job with a distributor. A few years later, he made his way on-premise and never looked back. "I really just wanted to expose myself to as much wine as possible," Lund says. With that mission in mind, he's found a fitting home at III Forks, a steak - house in Austin, Texas, that boasts 450 selections on its wine list. "In this day and age of specialization, where wine bars and restaurants have lists that are so focused, I get the opportunity to have something for everybody—and that's not easy to do," Lund explains. "I try to focus on being a jack of all trades and a master of none. Some of these guys are going to know more about Burgundy or the Left Bank than I'll ever know, and that's OK with me. I'm just trying to be as well-rounded as possible." This effort to immerse himself in as many facets of the global wine indus - try as he can means reading constantly and tasting as many as 150 wines a week. Lund works with 19 distributors at III Forks to keep his options robust, and—like a true economist—trains his staff to recognize the distinction between value and perceived value: all with the goal of helping guests find the right wine for the right price. "The more expensive wine is often not the better option for guests, so when someone says, 'I like this brand around this price point,' I teach my staff to talk them down 15 to 20 percent," Lund explains. "In doing this, we're gaining credibility right off the bat, and I think there's real value in that. A lot of times, you can go to a lower price point and find something more focused with all of those other spiritual qualities we look for in wine. By doing this, we're gaining perceived value of competence and repute, and real value by ameliorating the guest's quality-to-price ratio." Lund also aims to give his guests a meaningful experience by keeping up with the trends—and looking to the next ones. He believes the natural wine movement is significantly changing the way consumers think about wine and is confident it's more than just a flash in the pan. "We have consumers asking for unfined and unfiltered wines, and I don't think it is a fad either from the winemaking or the consumer standpoint," Lund says. "Moving forward, less intervention is the best way to get to wines that have more points of distinc - tion and a sense of place." He also partially attributes the resurgence of Syrah to the natural wine movement's popularity: "Domestically, Syrah is the best way to showcase those concepts—we've already done it with Pinot! The grape picks up ter - roir so nicely and is planted widely, but also has that X-factor like Pinot or Riesling—it has an untamed wildness to it," he explains. "We can split hairs about tannic structure of Cab or Merlot, but when someone tastes a wine that tastes like salami and white pepper, it takes them into a whole different universe." Fortunately for Lund's guests, he's more than happy to serve as their cosmic tour guide. Economy and Enology DAVE LUND, WINE DIRECTOR AT AUSTIN'S III FORKS, ALWAYS HAS HIS GUESTS IN MIND by Rachel Burkons PHOTO: DENNIS BURNETT Dave Lund is the Wine Director at III Forks in Austin, TX.

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