Links to previous event announcements:

     Sept 2006

     July 2006

     May 2006

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…
OK, I am writing this on what the weatherman has just reported is the hottest November day in Austin ever, but as is always the case, it will change soon, and drastically.  It always does.  All I know right now is that this long summer and extra-warm "Fall" make me long for the soon-to-be-upon-us Holidays.  What makes them the "most wonderful time"?  No, it's not the turkey or Santa.  It's the bracing cooler weather and the accompanying numerous occasions to enjoy festive and more flavorful wines.
You see, I did enjoy them, but I've had enough "pool wines" to last me for a good long while.  I'm ready for big, robust reds, for bubblies and celebrating, and I want those warming fortified wines.  I think that we're all ready.  So, let's do it...!

Nov 21    |    Sparkles and Bubbles  
  (Tue)      |    at  Capital Brasserie       310 Colorado Street     472-6770  
                  |     6:30 PM,     $45 members  &  $55 non-members    (all inclusive)

No, I'm not talking about any of Michael Jackson's zoo animals or any late-50's strippers.  I'm talking about Sparkling Wines, and the very best of them, Champagne.  Every year, I have people call me on their cell phones from a store somewhere, asking me what Champagne they should be buying for an upcoming Holiday party or occasion (often on the drive to it).  And, they always hate it when I answer, "Well, what style and flavor-profile do you like?"  We end the conversation with no one truly satisfied.  Well, I've come up with a plan that should satisfy everyone.

At this event, you get to find out what Champagne you will like and should get, AND you get to have a great time doing it!  I've already cherry-picked a range of ten top-rated wines (most rated over 90 points) that are great values in their category (I'm afraid to serve more; we'll be serving almost a bottle per person).  Those categories range in price and style, and the wines within them reflect the differing profiles of the houses that produce them.  Yes, your task, tough as it may be, is to taste your way through them, and then decide what you like this season.  It's a tight fit, but we'll have the event early enough for you to use your experience to guide your Holiday selections.

With my twisted sense of propriety, I think it's going to be truly wonderful to be drinking top-flight Champagnes from brown paper bags (yes, it will be a "survey" of the wines, tasted blind).  As a twist, we're going to start the event a bit earlier than normal, as soon as we can after traffic dies down a bit.  We'll mingle and enjoy some finger-food as we sample and discuss the wines.  There will be two entries from a 'value' class of French sparkling wines, three Brut cuvée NV Champagnes, three Brut Rosé NV Champagnes, and two Vintage Champagnes (like one of my favorites, Veuve-Clicquot Brut Rosé Reserve 1995).

With the earlier start, we should be done by 8-ish, feeling all bubbly.  I've arranged with the nice folks at Capitol Brasserie, for those that want, to stay afterward and have dinner seated together in a section set aside for us.  Each party will be on-their-own to order whatever they want and to pay for only what they order.  In addition, Reed and Geoff have promised to work on some special food and to provide some type of special pricing (as is usually the case for us, we kept meaning to nail it all down, but conversation after a few drinks always seems to go other directions; I'll know more when you give me your reservation for the event).  The whole evening should be loads of fun, and will help you get a jump on the Holidays in more ways than one.       [theme: wine survey, social gathering] 

Dec 6     |    Port, without a storm
 (Wed)     |    at  Green Pastures        811 West Live Oak         444-4747
                  |     7:00 PM,     $60 members  &  $65 non-members     (all inclusive)
A roaring fire, a fluffy comforter, a big heavy sweater (no, not me!), while sipping some great Port.  That's what I'm talking about!   But, it's been so long; you're confused.  What is a "Late Bottled Vintage (LBV)" again?  Did you like Tawny Port; which ones?  OK.  Time for some education, whether first-time or refresher.
Cockburn's (coh-burns) is one of the great port houses.  Founded in 1815 (making it even older that we are), today they have a portfolio of eight different types; perfect for learning about the full range of port-making techniques and stylings, from Fine Ruby and Tawny to Single Quinta bottlings and declared Vintage.  Joining me in trying to teach you something ☻ will be Liz Choate, who represents the house; she will provide us with a fairly formal educational experience about this great fortified wine, including a bit of information about Cockburn's history and house style as well.
A beautiful and festive drink deserves a beautiful and festive setting.  It's been over a decade since LADV has held and event at the elegant Green Pastures; it should provide a great Holiday setting for this one.  If a place as lovely as this, all decked out in Christmas décor doesn’t get fill you with spirit (or if the Port doesn’t), you’re definitely a Scrooge.  Executive chef Charles Bloemsma will prepare  lovely and substantial hors d'oeuvres for us to enjoy with a couple of lighter wines to prepare us for the rich and robust subject of our study, as well as providing noshes to pair-with and complement the three flights of ports.  All this should ease the pain of learning in the confines of their lovely 'Wine Room'.
I know that education is tough, especially for us "old dogs", but remember what your parents told you of the joy gained from learning, and honestly study just doesn't get much more painless than this…          [theme: mid-level education]     (max 35) 
Dec 28   |    Should auld acquaintance…  What, who's calling who auld ? !   (our traditional orphans' dinner)
  (Thur)    |    at  Aquarelle Restaurant Français        606 Rio Grande      479-8117  
                  |     7:00 PM,     $115 members  &  $125 non-members     (all inclusive)

My Gosh... another year shot to hell.  Yes, time for reflection and celebration.  And it usually doesn't take us long to realize that what we really need to be doing is more of what we enjoy, and less of what we don't.  The approach of New Years reminds us that the clock is ticking ever faster.  And thus the genesis of this long-standing LADV tradition.  Sure, the turkey and relatives were great (in their own ‘special’ way) as are other aspects of family duty and social responsibility, but what we really want after all that are just those simple things that bring us personal happiness.  We long for what makes us feel warm-and-fuzzy and glad to be alive, REALLY GREAT FOOD AND WINE.

When people ask me about the esteemed group, I always tell them that my years have shown me one thing, that is that people who love fine wine almost always are those folks that celebrate the wonderful and yet straightforward things that life offers.  They actually treasure superior food; they get great pleasure from drinking and talking about a fine wine; and they are great company.  So, once again, those of us that are fortunate enough to be 'stuck' in Austin will gather as the poor abandoned souls we are, and we will enjoy the heck out of life  - - -  oh, I mean reach for solace from each other as the orphans that we will be.

Given that this is usually a smaller group and that we show little pretense of education or other loftier goals, we get to enjoy these events in intimate spaces.  This year, I thought that we should return to one of our all-time favorites, and put ourselves in the capable and caring hands of Terry and Robert at Aquarelle.  The cozy confines of that old house and being treated with elegance and care certainly takes the sting out of being a "poor orphan" on a wintry Austin night.  And since we'll be enjoying some of the best food in the world, why not enjoy some of the best wine?  It's been too long since we've enjoyed the pleasures of great Bordeaux; so since we’re providing ourselves a special treat, let’s drink some really nice ones.  I think that you’ll find a very nice mix, with both great values (still high-80’s and 90’s) and some truly stellar offerings (like the pair of Grand Puy Lacoste).  So as always, although the evening will not be cheap, it will be an outstanding value.  You deserve it!  Look at the particulars, and think of enjoying all this with the impeccable service of Aquarelle, and I think you’ll agree:

      On Arrival    -                                                                                                                                       François Montand, Blanc de Blancs Brut 
        1st Course  -   Caramelized Day Boat Scallops with Roasted Sweet Corn-Potato Compote,           Ch Bonnet, Entre-Deux-Mers, 2004
                                   Asparagus Puree, Mushroom Butter Nage with Truffle Oil, Fried Spinach
                                                                                                                                                               Ch Graville Lacoste, Graves Blanc, 2005
       2nd Course   -   Pan-Roasted Lockhart Quail Breast with Poached Sekel Pear,                               Ch Larose-Trintaudon, Haut-Medoc, 2001
                                   Braised Swiss Chard, Laura Chenel Goat Cheese and Candied Texas Pecans
                                                                                                                                                               Ch Tour Mirambeau, Cuvée Passion, 2004
       3rd Course   -   Pan Seared Beef Tenderloin with Portabello and Button Mushrooms,                    Ch Meyney, St Estephe, 2003
                           Forme d’Ambert French Blue Cheese, Shallot-Port Wine Reduction,                   
                           Walnut Persillade                                                                                                       Ch Pipeau, St Emilion, 2003
Min-Vertical   -   Assortment of fine cheeses                                                                                        Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac, 2003
                                                                                                                                                               Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac, 1988
           Dessert    -   Clafoutis Aquarelle” - Fresh Black Mission Fig and Almond Cream Tart            Château Coutet, Barsac, 2003
                                     with House-made Rum-Raisin  Ice Cream

As always, we’ll have lots of fun…   [theme: wine-food pairing, social gathering]