Links to previous event announcements:

Jan 2007     Nov 2006     Sept 2006     July 2006     May 2006

What goes around
For those who can actually recall the theme of the previous newsletter, the topic was about how surprised I was to be doing three events that were “completely different” from any other events over the past fifteen years.  And, no, I hadn’t just forgotten J ; they were unique.  In an interesting twist, the events included this time are all interesting variations on events that we have done before, although some quite awhile ago.
For those who were not one of us back then or for those who were and enjoyed the previous incarnations, plan to join us for:
  May 8  |    ZAP's  Zinfandel Grand Tasting Tour 2007   
  (Tue)      |    at  Omni Austin Hotel       700 San Jacinto at 8th Street
                  |     6:30 PM,     $55 members-only

Back in 2001, Austin gained an important distinction of being selected as one of only three cities to be visited on ZAP’s inaugural tasting tour.  For those of you that think ZAP is the sound that a flying insect makes when coming in contact with one of those purple-lit big killers, and nothing more, let me give you an overview of the “Zinfandel Advocates and Producers”.  Founded in 1991, ZAP is dedicated to advancing knowledge of and appreciation for American Zinfandel and its unique place in our culture and history.  For those of us who truly love this varietal, they are a “big deal”, and many make an annual pilgrimage to the Bay Area each January to taste the latest wines from the myriad of current producers.  Excited about this happening, I arranged an LADV exclusive event the night before that ZAP tasting, where we had eight of the visiting winemakers rotate from table to table in a great dinner at the old Gilligan’s Restaurant.

There was only one problem.  Most people decided that they couldn’t make back-to-back events, and never signed up for the real ZAP tasting.  Others, though well-intentioned, simply had “too much fun” as we drank more that thirty wines at the LADV event, and were simply AWOL the next evening.  I repented.  The ZAP event is simply too good to miss, and we want good attendance to keep Austin on the map when organizations think about wine and wine events.  This year it will be different.  In lieu of a separate LADV event, I am simply going to encourage everyone to attend the great ZAP event.

Encouragement will come first by not scheduling another event near to this date.  As an extra ‘push’,  we were able to negotiate a small price-break for LADV members.  And, as final encouragement, take a look at the many wineries whose winemakers will be pouring examples of their great (red, not pink) wines:


Alexander Valley Vnyds


Ballentine Vineyards

Boeger Winery

Bourassa Vineyards

Brutocao Cellars

C.G. Di Arie Winery

Carol Shelton Wines

Cline Cellars

CrauforD Wine Company

D-Cubed Cellars


Four Vines Winery

Fritz Winery

Gamba Winery

Gnarly Head Cellars

Graziano Family of Wines

Howell Mountain Vineyards

Jessie's Grove Winery

Kenwood Vnyds/Heck Estates

Klinker Brick Winery

Lolonis Winery

Mariah Vineyards

Medusa Wines

Michael-David Winery

Montevina  - Trinchero

Moss Creek Winery

Murphy - Goode

Neese Vineyards

Norman Vineyards

Opolo Vineyards

Peachy Canyon Winery

Pedroncelli Winery

Pellegrini Family Vineyards

Rancho Zabaco Winery


Renwood Winery

Ridge Vineyards

Robert Biale Vineyards

Rosenblum Cellars

Saxon Brown Wines

Seghesio Family Vineyards

Starry Night Winery

Steele Wines

Storrs Winery

The Terraces

Trentadue Winery

Tres Sabores

Trinitas Cellars


Zig Zag Zin




And local foods…


The Belmont

Castle Hill

Cissi's Market

Doña Emilia’s

Judd Servidio

Mansion at Judges Hill


III Forks

Z’ Tejas Grill

If you want to attend, and you should, make your reservations with me and assure that I receive your check before April 30; tickets are only $55/person (non-refundable).  We’ll gather at the Atrium lounge just prior to the 6:30 start time, and you will be able to enjoy the experience with fellow LADV members.  Those that miss joining us beforehand can pick up their tickets at ‘Will Call’.  If you miss this deadline and still want to attend, you can get your tickets at a slightly higher cost through The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas website (, who is helping host the event; they are a great organization and I encourage you to learn more about them.  Join us and show that Austin truly loves Zin

May 23  |    Exceeding Expectation; A Survey of Syrah
  (Wed)     |    at  Ringside @ Sullivan’s        300 Colorado      495-6504
                  |     7:00 PM,     $40 members  &  $45 non-members     (all inclusive)

First, I want you to know that we’re doing this event not only because I love this varietal, but because so many of you over the past couple of years have requested that we do this exact event.  I also want you to know that I steadfastly refuse, however, to name it as was suggested; no, this is not “Qué Será Syrah”. 

What finally kick-started me into action was fear.  I keep hearing that Syrah is “going to be the next Pinot Noir”.  All it will take is another mediocre movie or some other pop-culture happening to propel this great grape and wine into over-hype, overproduction, and higher pricing.  As was the case with Pinot Noir, the wines are fabulous as they are today; they don’t need to be made into “beverages” for everyone, as was done in the US to Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Well, ‘fear’ and the fact that the three vintages that are currently in the market are simply stellar (you got me!).

As with other ‘noble grapes’ which reflect their terroir to produce quite different wines, Syrah can produce juicy-fruity “Shiraz” from the Southern Hemisphere, or earthy and meaty Rhone-styled wines, or the bold fruit with spice notes that are coming from the West Coast of the USA.  Each styling is different, but every style is great.  We will take advantage of this variation in our presentation of the wines.  This ‘survey’ event will cluster all the wines into these three groups, with four terrific examples of each style cloaked in those fashionably-elegant but useful brown paper bags, allowing us all to really investigate what we like without bias.  We’ll mix a couple of good-value “finds” in with the classics and with the upper-crust Big Names; that is, after all, what makes these ‘survey’ events fun, entertaining, and valuable.

As we have done several times in the past (oh, what goes around…), we return to one of our favorite venues for this type of event, Sullivan’s.  And, per the norm, the wines will be presented with light appetizers, certainly not enough to be considered “dinner”; just enough to keep your palette refreshed as you sample the wines.

And, oh, where did we come up with the name for the event?  Legends have long persisted regarding the origins of Syrah; one is that it was brought to France by the Greeks from the Iranian city of Shiraz.  Almost all the stories indicated that it was a transplanted variety from some long-lost noble parentage.  Through DNA typing, they now know that Syrah is the offspring of two very obscure French varieties; neither ‘Dureza’, native to the Ardèche, nor ‘Mondeuse Blanche’, native to the Savoie, are distinguished.  So their marriage to produce the great Syrah was surprising and exceeds almost everyone’s expectations of what lowly parents can produce.          [theme: wine survey, mid-level education]
June 12 |    The Art of Food and Wine Pairing
  (Tue)      |    at  Vin Bistro       38th & Kerbey Lane       377-5252      
                  |     7:00 PM,     $75 members  &  $85 non-members     (all inclusive)
We talk about it all the time; some of us as though we know what we’re doing.  But do we really know?  Most of us started out believing there were clear “rules”: Red wine with red meat and white wine with fish.  But we all know now it’s neither straightforward nor always easy.  Most of us ‘wine geeks’ have become somewhat comfortable approaching the topic by thinking about the characteristics of the wine; I’m sure you’ve thought, “Hmmm, those medium-weight tannins need some fat, but I don’t want to overpower that wine with anything too heavy.”  But, what about the effect of different spices; what about smoked dishes; what food  flavors?  I come at all this with a much more comfortable with the wine-side than the food-side.  I thought it about time that we have someone share how to come at this from the food side, as well.
As it turns out, as of the beginning of this year, we have a great place to provide that point of view.  What we last visited as “Zin” a few years back, is now Vin Bistro; they have brought Executive Chef Christopher Lusk to Austin, who brings experience including Executive Chef at Kitchenbar in Brooklyn, Commander's Palace in New Orleans, Mario Batali’s Otto Enoteca in Manhattan, and Stephen Pyle’s Star Canyon in Dallas.  The current goals at Vin align exactly with this theme, where they believe wine exists for accompanying food.  The owners and management state this as, “The chef’s creations paired with our favorite wines should bring out the best in both.  As wine enthusiasts, we believe our chef needs to regard wine as an ingredient with the dish to be served.  Through featured pairings we endeavor to inform and inspire.”
So I threw out a challenge (no, not like in Iron Chef, and no one wants Bobby Flay or Emeril around).   I wanted to present an event that would us through the thinking behind a few ‘pairings’.  I wanted it to simulate both “Hey, I’d like to drink this great wine I’ve been saving; what would really to go with it?”, and “There was this great looking (food) when I shopped at the market today, what wine should I serve?”
On arrival, we’ll start with a little French bubbly, just to “wet our whistles”…
Appetizer - Wow, 2005 is supposed to be a great vintage and I brought home what is supposed to be a wonderful white Burgundy that is already drinking well; I wonder if this Fevre Chablis would go better with:
a) Fontina Val d’Aosta, Arancino Saba Vinaigrette
b) Mahi-Mahi Shoyu-Ginger Ceviche, with Crispy Wontons
c) Potato Dumplings, wrapped in Serrano Ham, and a Orange-Tomato Olive Oil
Entree -  I bought everything for this great-sounding Coriander Rubbed Duck Breast, Sauté of Summer Legumes,
                Cous Cous and Strawberry-Opal Basil Jam.  Should I serve:
a) SiduriSanta Lucia Highlands’ Pinot Noir 2005
b) Joseph Phelps ‘Innisfree’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
c) Domaine de la Monardiere, Réserve des 2 Monardes , Vacqueyras, 2005 (RP 90-92) 
Dessert  - Wow, I’d really want some of that 90pt Seghesio "Home Ranch"  Zinfandel.  I know it’s not really a dessert wine, but I don’t want “too sweet”, so I’m going to have it as one.  Should I have it with: 
a) Blackberry Gelee, Toasted Almonds, and Vanilla “Milkshake” Cream
b) El Rey Dark Chocolate-Oolong Tea Pound Cake, with a Local Honey - Allspice Glaze
What could be better..?   Not only learning the ‘theory’ behind assembling great “pairings”, but actually exploring these combinations for yourself to better understand them.  Actually, just coming to enjoy the great food and wines wouldn’t be too shabby without these loftier goals.  So plan to join us for an informative and special evening; you’ll be glad you did.     [theme: food-wine pairing dinner, mid-level education]   



Recently, folks have more than once asked me if ‘people’ don’t know that it is not appropriate to wear strong fragrances to wine events.  My reply each time is, “How will they know if no one ever tells them.”  Remember, we’ve all joined together to learn more and to share our learning about wine; that should not only include the wine itself, but also extend to the act of its appreciation.  Remember, if you can, when you dress the morning before a wine event, it really is best to omit any application of perfume, cologne, etc.      (I don’t care how super-sexy you think that it will make you; remember the wine already does that).  This seemed as though it might be a good time to remind people; you may be inviting others to accompany you to the ZAP or other event, and the discomfort of a gentle reminder is less than sitting next to it all evening.
As normal, space is always very limited at these events.  I do apologize that so often I have to inform people that a particular event has filled.  Also, be thoughtful when you make your reservations.  I have no problem if people need to cancel later for a valid reason, but there have been a couple of occurrences that seem like some make reservations when the announcements are made, just in case they want to go later.  Doing this is really not fair to those that really make plans to attend and make their presence a priority.
And, per tradition, expect and enjoy “a moment of silence” as we take a break for the summer (unless something really cool comes up that I can’t resist).  Enjoy the couple months off until we return in the Fall.
As always, call  925-3985 or e-mail:  to make reservations and to keep them accurate.  After you make your reservations, PLEASE CALL IMMEDIATELY if your plans change.  Communicating changes no later than 48 “business hours” before an event will allow us to adjust and provide an opportunity to any who may be on a waiting list.  Further it will assure we don’t have to pay for wine and food that was reserved for you, and that we won’t have to contact you afterward to pass on those costs to you if we are past the point when we guaranteed attendance to a venue.


  Sante!       See you at a tasting soon.