Links to previous event announcements:

     May 2006

     July 2006

Ask and ye shall receive…
OK, you should have known that if I kept asking for your ideas and your input at every event, that eventually I’d get around to using them.  After planning events for over fifteen years, one has to wonder if you’re still providing people with what they want; so, you ask.  The good news is that people seem very happy with the four ‘themes’ that we base our events on: (a) surveys of currently available wines, (b) both mildly or seriously educational experiences, (c) wine and food pairings, and (d) social gatherings with your fellow LADV friends.  So, you can expect to see us continue to provide a mix of these things as the basis for events. 
But I really seized on the specific ideas that you offered.  I will never admit that I really needed an infusion of thought, but sometimes even your best bottle of Scotch doesn’t offer any new ideas.  First of all, many said you love when we combine the ‘pairings’ events with an opportunity to try new restaurants; the reasons seemed to be both a “safety in numbers” feeling and a comfortable way to sample new foods and try new and exciting pairings that you normally wouldn’t.  But what I really latched onto were the types of wines that you said you wanted to explore.  More than any other, people said that they wished they new a little more about Italian wine and were a bit more comfortable with them; I do, too.  The next most-mentioned wines from you guys were those from South American; who knew?
As you might guess, knowing your other LADV brethren, I am not going to employ all of your suggestions.  In spite of the popularity of the wine “surveys” where we employ those lovely brown paper bags for ‘blind’ tasting, there will not be event with surveys of either the Manischewitz or Mogen David portfolios, nor an educational series on the Concord grape.  And, I’m going to leave it up to the ‘single guys’ who suggested it, to have their own private events on pairing wines with items from the HEB Frozen Foods aisle (come on, besides, everyone already knows that you pair Gevrey-Chambert from robust vintages with Turkey, Ham, and Cheese Hot Pockets). 
So, what events are we having to bring these ideas to fruition?

Sept 26  |    A Rosé is a Rosé, but it’s not necessarily so sweet  
   (Tue)     |    at  Restaurant Jezebel       914C Congress Avenue           499-3999
                  |     7:00 PM,     $75 members  &  $80 non-members    (all inclusive) 
Many were pleasantly  surprised by the rosé wines at our recent event at the Capitol Brasserie.  Sadly, the American “white zin” craze conditioned many to think that all ‘pink’ wines were sweet and best quaffed ice-cold, straight from the box (and they are most prized for getting Aunt Sissy to loosen up so everyone can relax at the brunch).  Recently, there has been growing recognition that dry blush or rosé wines are truly great accompaniments to a wide range of foods.  They will never be “the star” of the meal, but they are wonderful, refreshing, and amazingly food-friendly wines that can highlight the subtle qualities of food that might otherwise be blown away.  I can’t count the number of people who have told me that they wish they knew more or had more experience with these wines, so that they would feel comfortable selecting and serving them at home.

OK, challenge accepted.  But to really make this work, I knew that we’d need to have an array of “star quality” food to make the point.  If you’re not aware, a new, small restaurant has opened downtown that fits the bill.  Chef Parind Vora has brought us the Restaurant Jezebel, serving food that has been called “sensual and intoxicating with its aroma, visual impact and visceral flavors.”  Born in India, Chef Parind has cooked in Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, St. Barths, Saba, Belize, and St. Martin abroad; and in the U.S. he has worked in South Carolina, Massachusetts, Maine, and most-recently New Mexico before moving to Austin.  He describes the restaurant’s food as ‘Modern American’, influenced by everywhere he has been, melding classical technique with subtle Indian seasoning and other world influences.

While we wine geeks often plan the food to match the wine we want to serve, there is often the occasion to showcase the food.  The menu for the evening is just that type of meal:

      1st Course   -      House cured salmon gravlox with salmon caviar and curried crème frâiche
                                 Gruet Méthode Champenoise Rosé  &  Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut Rosé
     2nd Course   -      Roasted pumpkin and fresh black truffle bisque
                                 Alois Lageder Lagrein Rosé  &  Tommasi ‘Chiaretto’ Rosé Bardolino Classico
     3rd Course   -      Seared South Carolina semi-boneless Quail with a tamarind - foie gras glaze
                                 Condesa de Leganza, Tempranillo Rosé  &  Julián Chivite Gran Feudo Rosé
      4th Course   -      Wild mushroom and goat cheese stuffed Berkshire Pork Loin with pepper béarnaise
                                 Château Marouine Côtes de Provence Rosé  &  Château d Aqueria Tavel Rosé
          Dessert   -      Frozen White Chocolate and Szechuan Peppercorn Soufflé
                                 Castello del Poggio Brachetto

As you can see, these Rosés aren’t one-dimensional, they run the gamut from crisp sparklers, to great Italian, earthy Spanish, classic French, and strawberry-nuanced Italian spritz for dessert.  I expect seats for this small jewel of a restaurant to fill quickly, particularly given imminent rave magazine reviews; so make your reservation quickly.       [theme: wine-food pairing, social gathering] 

Oct 11   |    Survey of the Wines of Italy,  Part 1
 (Wed)     |    at  Siena Ristorante        6203 North Capital of Texas Hwy         349-7667
                  |     7:00 PM,     $70 members  &  $75 non-members     (all inclusive) 
Alright, I guess a good place to start is with explaining the “Part 1” thing.  In thinking about presenting Italian wines to you, it dawned on me that a real problem in the past has been trying to cram way too much information on the whole of Italy into well-meaning, but well-sotted minds.  We would never think of tackling all of France in one evening.  But, I also know you well enough to realize that few want one event for each of the 311 DOC, or even the 32 DOCG appellations.  But to allow for you to really grasp (at least the most common) Italian regions and wines, we’re going to survey the wines of Italy with multiple events; right now, I’m thinking three, but we’ll see how things go.  This first one will cover what many consider to be the premier area, the Northwest (Piemonte, Lombardia, Liguria); down the road we will have events on Central Italy and others.

The second thing I need to explain is that I made an ‘executive decision’ about just how much education to try to inflict on you.  This group always necessitates that delicate balance between formal educational activities and “learning through experience”; OK, that’s my nice way of saying that what you really like is to drink the wines.  Given that, we will couple some brief discussion on the area and wines with our “survey” form of tasting.  We will put our focus on the three most common and most famous: Dolcetto, Barbera, and perhaps the greatest Italian red wine Barolo.  Once we’ve taught you a bit about what to expect, you will reinforce that knowledge by surveying five outstanding examples of that wine.  Because the tasting will be ‘blind’, you won’t know if the Dolcetto in your glass is the elegant Marchesi di Gresy or the berry-noted Pecchenino ‘San Luigi’, nor if you’re drinking the great Pio Cesare Barolo or the fabulous Ceretto ‘Prapo’ Barolo at $75.  But by the end of the evening, you will know what each of these great wine types is all about.

Hmmmm, where to have a tasting of Italian wine..?   The good news is that the good folks at Siena Ristorante seem to have either forgotten or forgiven our previous escapades there and have invited us to return.  So in addition to enjoying an authentic Tuscan-styled ambience, we will have the pleasure of a great assortment of their wonderful antipasti and pastas to complement the truly great wines.  We’ve never left Siena and not had a great evening; I’m sure this will be wonderful.

As another bonus, Sandra Spalding from Twin Liquors will be on-hand to provide most of the education; her knowledge of and enthusiasm for Italian wines will further brighten the evening.  Of course, drinking 15 outstanding wines won’t hurt either.     [wine survey, mid-level education]     (max 45) 
Oct 25   |    The South shall rise…   Food and Wine from South America  
  (Wed)     |    at  Sampaio’s        4800 Burnet Road      469-9988  
                  |     7:00 PM,     $65 members  &  $75 non-members     (all inclusive)
OK, we all know that South America is supposed to be producing great wines.  People ask if you’ve had that great Argentine Malbec or that yummy Chilean Merlot, and you smile blankly.  Let’s face it, unless one can grasp a sense of what a place is about, it’s difficult to relate to the wines no matter how good.  I’ll be honest (well, at least this once),  I have sidestepped forays into this arena because I don’t posses that comfort level either.  Well, our stronger affiliation with the folks at Twin Liquors will again pay off here; our old friend Russell Smith is coming to the rescue to share not only his knowledge of the wines of the region but also to convey some of the flavor of Argentina and Chile gained from his trips to the wine country there. 

And speaking of framing the wines with the flavor of the region, we will be pairing them with authentic South American fare.  For those who have not yet ventured to the recently revamped  Sampaio’s (named after the genial owner Magna Sampaio), you’ll find it a truly inviting space, classy and modern yet having a comfortable and relaxed feel.  The décor is themed to portray the Brazilian flag, making this new space match the re-energized food.  The staff will be preparing a special dinner menu, composed of items from their regular menu and some prepared just for us; all the food should complement and accentuate the great wines that Russell has selected:

   On Arrival  -   Norton "Lo Tengo" Torrontes
   1st Course   -   Pastel de Carne - Brazilian pastry stuffed with spicy beeef, hearts of palm, raisins served with spring mix
                           Casa Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc  &  Susana Balbo "Crios" Rosé of Malbec
  2nd Course   -   Paella Brasileira - Saffron seasoned rice sautéed with sausage, chicken, jumbo shrimp, carrots & peas
                           La Puerta Malbec  &  Montes Cabernet Sauvignon-Carmenere
  3rd Course   -   Picanha Grelhada - Grilled Flat Iron steak topped with tommato vinaigrette and chimichurri
                                                                              served with fried yucca, season sauteed fresh vegetables and colorau rice 
                           Nieto Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz  &  Casa Lapostolle "Clos Apalta"  (wow!)

Education, great food and wine, and lots of fun…   [theme: wine-food pairing, mid-level education]     (max 40)