Links to previous event announcements:

Sept 2007

Apr 2007

Jan 2007

Nov 2006

Sept 2006

July 2006

May 2006

The 5 W’s       

No, I’m not beginning this with a joke about the president having been cloned; although I did hear one the other day that played on the theme of that old Michael Keaton movie, ‘Multiplicity’.  This is the acronym used by journalists and other researchers reminding them of the key elements that they should investigate.  Yes, it’s Who, What, Where, When, and Why.  Occasionally, it’s also key to understand How.  When I was asked the other day to describe some wines “using the 5W’s”, I realized that this is a good way to think about them. 

Most of us primarily  think about the ‘what’ (varietal) and the ‘where’ when it comes to wine.  The overarching theme of the previous set of events was on “where” (remember AVA’s ?).  Because most Americans drink and think California, the ‘when’ or vintage is often an overlooked attribute.  Further, fewer and fewer consumers are aging wine, removing the other aspect of ‘when’.  

Those of us that are true ‘wine geeks’ love to talk about ‘How’; I guess the Alton Brown in us believes that understanding the ways the grapes are grown and the wine was produced gives us great insight into the final product.  With a scientific and engineering background myself, I have always been drawn to that; however to me, the real magic of wine has always been that the end product is so much more that the simple sum of all these parts. 

For this set of events, we’ll focus on the other two W’s; primarily we will delve into the ‘who’.  Most people tend to think of only the winemaker as the person effecting the wines; but for smaller wineries, it is often the vision of the owner that steers the direction, though often they are the same person.  There are two outstanding opportunities here for you to truly get “up close and personal” with owners and winemakers, and understand how their wines are a reflection of their goals.

So, I guess that leaves ‘why’…  People make and consume wine for a vast array of reasons.  It will no doubt be enlightening to ask the winemakers how they started on their journey.  But what about us; ‘why’ are you a lover of fine wine?  Believe me, I have friends that will drink wine simply “because it’s there.”  A friend of mine once told me, “A woman drove me to drink and I didn't even have the decency to thank her.”  I’ve noticed over the years that LADV members all seem to have three notions about wine: first, that it is a wonderful and wondrous thing to be appreciated; second, that it is an important part of a great meal, maybe more so than bread; and third, it is a key element in being with friends and enjoying an event.  Knowing that, the best demonstration of ‘why’ will come from our first event:

 Dec 28  |    Buone Feste; Cenome di Orfano    (Happy Holiday Orphan’s Wine Dinner)
   (Fri)      |    at  Gypsy Restaurant      1025 Barton Springs Road     499-0200
                  |     7:00 PM,     $90 members  &  $100 non-members       (all inclusive)

For those who are new, or for those who’ve forgotten previous occurrences for some mysterious reason, every year we take a break, from being with people that we don’t necessarily want to be with and from food that may be traditional but is not really all that good, to give a wonderful present-to-ourselves and to celebrate the successful passage of another year.  The tradition started as a place for those with few local members of the family that we were born to, as the poor “orphans” we were, to gather and enjoy the company of the family that we would choose - - those that also love great food and wonderful wines.  It didn’t take long for others of this “chosen family” to want to join us during this awkward time between Christmas and New Years, even if they were slipping out from a house full of company.

It also soon became the tradition to hold this event at the venue which had most impressed us during the previous year.  Although we just held our most-recent event there, there was overwhelming agreement that we should return to Gypsy, both to reward them and ourselves.  Even with their recent rave reviews, Shawn and the staff were kind enough (OK, they got tired of me bothering them incessantly) to not only offer us the opportunity to come back, but to do so on a Friday night.  Although they did a stellar job at the Napa AVA's event, pairing to California wines is not their specialty.  Since this is always a “treat ourselves as we want to be treated” event, I gave in to their request to show us their best; thus the dinner will be themed around their specialty of “a modern take on Classic Northern Italian cuisine”.  I think that you’ll find the menu amazing.

So, what about the wine, you say?  I began the task of selecting them by dragging our wonderful Twin Liquors liaison, Brenda, through the litany of their huge offerings book and beginning to pair two wines with every amazing course.  If you don’t know, nearly half of annual wine and spirit sales for happen in November and December, with the crescendo at New Years; she had plenty of other things to do than wax philosophical with me for hours in the selection process.  So, she said to me, “You know, I realize you’re busy; how about if I do the pairing by bringing out a bunch of gems that I’ve found over the past year and giving you an amazing set of wines.  You just need to trust me.”  As difficult as it is for me to hand over any critical task, especially one that I enjoy, I knew that the rewards will be worth the uncertainty.  As you can see, Twin will be supplying us with some truly magical presents for us to unwrap (actually, uncork) on this night. 

On arrival – to kick-start the merriment                                                                      Borgo San Leo Prosecco Brut

Wild Mushroom Casolette with Pomogranite                                                              Fattoria Rodano Chianti Classico

                                                                                                                                            Tenuta Argentiera "Villa Donoratico" Bolgheri

Pasta Punta Nesca                                                                                                            Bruno Porro Dolcetto di Dogliani Vigna Ribote

                                                                                                                                            Zenato Valpolicella Superiore Ripassa

Vedure bon Fem (seasonal vegetables in a butter chicken sauce)                             Casadei "Sogno Mediterraneo"

                                                                                                                                            Braida “Il Baciale”

Lightly Smoked Angus Tenderloin w/ Espresso Rub                                                   Produttori del Barbaresco Riserva Moccagatta

                                                                                                                                            La Selvaccia Brunello di Montalcino

Scorpino (lime sorbet with vodka and proseco)

Champange Poached Pears w/ Marscapone, Asiago, Parmigiana, Gorgonzola        Michele Chiarlo Moscato d'Asti Nivole

This will be an amazing event.  We’ve got two groups of people that want to do wonderful things for us “poor orphans”.  I guess that it’s up to us to provide them with the opportunity to treat us as we richly deserve…

 Jan 23  |    Wineries of Washington State   
  (Wed)     |    at  Fleming’s          320 East 2nd  Street        457-1500     
                  |     7:00 PM,     $80 members  &  $90 non-members     (all inclusive)

We all know that Austin is a special place; so we begrudgingly share it on occasion with people who want to come to the Live Music Capital.  I also think that many of us in LADV also know that Austin is special in its appreciation of fine wines.  Well, another secret is out!  After some serious research, the Washington Wine Commission selected our town as the best place for their first-ever venture outside of their state.  Perhaps you’ve noticed in recent weeks the barrage of TV and print advertising touting Washington state wines.  The invasion begins in full force on 1/22 as over fifty wineries come to show their wares (no, not their drawers, their wines) at a big “Taste Washington” three hour walk-around at One World Theater. 

As we’ve done when other big ‘road show’ drink-a-thons have come to town (as with ZAP), we’ll have the opportunity to visit with the winemakers and owners of several of these visiting wineries in a more comfortable and relaxed environment.  Following a meet-and-greet session on arrival, we’ll have a lovely four course dinner, where representatives of the wineries will join us at our tables.  We’ll have the opportunity to learn about their winery, philosophy, techniques, and direction in a very personal way.  We will also sample their wine and the wine of other wineries in attendance as we dine.  Our visiting winery guests will change tables between each course, allowing us the chance to interact with those representing other wineries, without ever leaving the comfort of our seat. 

The wonderful folks at Fleming’s will be hosting us with their usual high-level of hospitality and elegance.  Chef Eric has promised some wonderful food for us to enjoy along with the great wines and good company.  The wineries represented include Airfield Estates Winery, Amavi Cellars, Bookwalter Winery, Walter Dacon Wines, Forgeron Cellars, Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards, Otis Kenyon Wine, and Andrew Will Winery.  These are smaller, mostly family-owned endeavors, selected from those visiting because of their passion and the high quality of their wines.  Many of these wines have not been to Texas previously.  In addition to the wines that will be poured during the seated dinner courses, many of the wineries are bringing other special wines to share during the on-arrival session and after-dinner wrap-up.  It will be an amazing opportunity to mix good food, fine wines, and interesting new company (remember, they’re the “who):

                                                       Seated Dinner with Winemakers                                                                       Walk-Around

Dinner Courses                                                            Dinner Wines  (at least 4 whites and 4 reds)                    meet’n’greet before and after-dinner

Filo Crisp with Mushroom Duxelle,                      |   Airfield Estates Chardonnay 2006                                     Bookwalter Lot No 21 Columbia Valley Red Wine nv

Feta Cheese and White Truffle essence               |   Amavi Cellars Sémillon 2006

                                                                                    |   Bookwalter Chardonnay-Viognier 2006                            Walter Dacon C'est Syrah Belle 2005

                                                                                    |   Walter Dacon C'est Syrah Beaux 2005

                                                                                    |   Forgeron Cellars Chardonnay 2006                                  Forgeron Cellars Walldeaux Smithie red blend  nv

Seared Scallops with Parsnip Puree                      |   Gordon Brothers Chardonnay 2006

and Red Pepper Buerre Blanc                                 |   Andrew Will Winery Pinot Gris 2006                                Gordon Brothers Tradition 2002


Seared Muskovy Duck Breast with                        |   Airfield Estates Aviator Red 2005                                       Otis Kenyon Matchless Red Wine 2005

Bing Cherries and roasted shallots                       |   Amavi Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

                                                                                    |   Bookwalter Columbia Merlot 2005                                    Otis Kenyon Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

                                                                                    |   Walter Dacon Viognier 2006

                                                                                    |   Forgeron Cellars Syrah 2002                                             Otis Kenyon Merlot 2005

Char Broiled Beef Striploin with rosemary oil,  |   Gordon Brothers Merlot 2006

sautéed spinach and fingerling potatoes               |   Andrew Will Winery Sorella 2005                                     Otis Kenyon Syrah 2005


Vanilla Crème Brulée with fresh berries                                                                                                                 Airfield Estates Riesling Ice Wine 2006

                                                                                                                                                                                        Gordon Brothers Late Harvest Gewurztraminer 2005

We, of course, will not get to sample all of the wines from all the wineries coming to town.  If you can handle it, I encourage you to strap on your elbow guards and steel-toe shoes and go to the event at One World sponsored by the Wine & Food Foundation; there’ll be a ton of samples being poured for your $60 there.  If it’s like other similar events, you might actually see some peoples’ drawers  ;-)   Whether you make that preamble or not, do make reservations to join us at this special event.  [theme: winemakers dinner]
 Feb 18  |    Siduri and Novy Wineries  -  An evening with our friend Adam Lee    
   (Mon)    |    at  Zoot Restaurant           509 Hearn          477-6563
                  |     7:00 PM,     $100 members  &  $110 non-members     (all inclusive)

How wonderful is it that we have a world-class winemaker whose hometown is right here in Austin?  It means that every couple of years we get the chance to spend time with him.  Of course, we’d never say it, but it doesn’t hurt that we get to drink some of the most amazing wines while he shares his stories and winemaking insight.  For those of you who have never had the pleasure, Siduri Wines has been crafting wonderful ultra-premium the Pinot Noir wines since Adam started the winery in 1994.  It was the culmination of a dream that had started a few years before that when Adam and I made a pilgrimage to the Russian River Valley and verified that fabulous Pinot Noirs were, in fact, being made there by such pioneers as Tom Rochioli and Burt Williams.  Right off the bat, accolades from Robert Parker and making the cover of Wine Spectator rewarded all the hard work that Adam and his wife Dianna had invested.  After a handful of years had provided confidence in dealing with the finicky Pinot Noir, Adam wanted to branch out and try his hand with other varietals.  Under a different label, Novy Family Wines named for Dianna’s family who had been very supportive, forays began with Cabernet, Merlot, and other grape types.  The team really found its second calling, however, in the Syrah grape where they have received numerous awards and ‘Top 100’ placings.  It’s a great things when nice people get to ‘live their dream’, and we get to share. 

In the past, we’ve made Adam share his thoughts from a podium through amplified speakers to reach everyone in an entire restaurant.  Adam’s real personality doesn’t come through in a situation like that, and to be honest, the events didn’t seem as “special” to many, as they do in smaller confines.  To remedy that, we’re going to limit attendance and hold the event in a cozier venue.  Chef Stewart Scruggs has been a key part of the Austin fine dining scene since about the time that Adam first conceived of his dream.  Coming from the CIA, though the Four Seasons in New York and stints with Stephen Pyles in Dallas, he became chef and co-owner of Zoot in 1991.  Moving on to Brio Vista and opening Wink Restaurant, the opportunity arose for Stewart to reclaim Zoot as his own in 2003.  His philosophy there is to select only the freshest ingredients which are then “respectfully prepared and plated with restraint”; the dishes are served by a very knowledgeable and dedicated staff.  Chef Stewart and his staff will open just for this event that evening; we’ll have the place to ourselves, but are still  going to limit seating to a small intimate number.  They are going to prepare and serve a unique meal, designed to match the great wines we’ll be enjoying, and it will be served ‘family style’ to keep with the cozy, friendly setting.  It will also allow us the luxury of a more relaxed pace with which to enjoy the wines that Adam has chosen, many of which we’ll make sure are available to you, in addition to a couple of fun things which are normally only available at the winery:

Novy ‘Keefer Vineyard’ Chardonnay 2006

Siduri Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2006

Siduri Sonoma County Pinot Noir 2006

Siduri ‘Amber Ridge Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2004

Siduri ‘Olivet Grange Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2004

Siduri ‘Cargasacchi Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2006

Siduri ‘Pisoni Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2006

Novy Sonoma County Syrah 2005

Novy ‘Unti Vineyard’ Syrah 2005

Novy Santa Lucia Highlands Syrah 2005

Novy ‘Rosella’s Vineyard’ Syrah 2004

Novy ‘Stolpman Vineyard’ Nebbiolo 2005

Novy ‘Oley’ Dessert Wine 2006 

The Siduri / Novy events always fill early.  Although this event is a few weeks away, you should make your decision about attending quickly.  Remember that you, too, need to live your dreams.          [theme: winemaker dinner] 

As we transition into another year, recall that it is time to renew your annual membership.  The minimal dues that we take are only just enough to provide the simple administrative services necessary to keep LADV running (website, phone, etc.).  This would be a great time for you to quickly drop a check in the mail.  Of course, if you’re coming to one of these events, save that stamp money and just take care of things at the event.  And as a reminder, in order to keep the event prices as low as possible we have not invested in credit card processing services; you should always expect to pay with cash or a check. 
Let me remind you that 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.  However on the flip-side, one of the most-frequent compliments that I get on the events is that people feel special and their experienced enhanced because of the coziness and easy access to the presenters. 
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.