My favorite dress of the evening was worn by Nazzy Hashemian. It just screamed, “It’s time for spring!”
L’Amour du Vin 2016, the wine auction that has been the Knoxville Museum of Art’s largest fundraiser for the past 13 years, was an immediate sellout earlier this month, as usual.
And, as usual, the food and wine were top flight.
But I thought it particularly significant this year that both the food and wine held a nod to the South, with the highlighted guest vintner and chef both hailing from southern states. That was touching because the event followed by just a few days the death of Blackberry Farm proprietor Sam Beall, whose vision helped found L’Amour du Vin and whose connections have kept it in demand because of its ability to attract top food and beverage talent. Beall, you see, was a huge believer in and advocate of celebrating all things “local.”
So, as we toasted Sam Beall’s memory, I think he would have appreciated that we also were celebrating two southern success stories. And I know he would have wanted the show to go on, as it did.
Vintner Jamey Whetstone, whose wines were served with dinner, is a native of Charleston, South Carolina. He says he formed his palate by being raised on homegrown, home-caught and home-cooked southern food.
Whetstone, who with his wife, Michelle, owns Whetstone Wine Cellars in Napa, California, produces pinot noir, syrah, viognier and chardonnay.
Chef Frank Stitt traces his roots to rural Alabama where he says he developed a “spiritual connection” to food, to the land and to farming.
After working in California (including at Alice Waters’ legendary Chez Panisse) and in France, Chef Stitt returned to Alabama, where he opened his acclaimed flagship restaurant Highlands Bar and Grill in 1982. He has since opened Chez Fonfon and Bottega Restaurant and Cafe, both also in Birmingham.
What a crowd in the Knoxville Museum of Art’s Ann and Steve Bailey Great Hall.
Check out this amazing appetizer prepared by the chefs of Blackberry Farm: deviled pork rinds. (I think liquid nitrogen was involved.)
Eric Zeanah, left, and John Winemiller during the wine tasting.
Here’s how it works. Various distributors set up tables and each pours a selection of wines for an hour and a half. You can taste more than 20 different wines, if you really apply yourself.
Mary and Scott Bogert.
Maribeth Ergan with David Butler, center, and Ted Smith. David is executive director of the Knoxville Museum of Art.
Bruce Hartmann, left, with Tom Coulter.
Bill and Sharon Laing with Jayne Ely, at right.
Megan Stair, left, with Marnie Page.
Michelle Whetstone, left, co-owner of Whetstone Wine Cellars, with Milton and Mimi Turner.
Chef Robert Allen with his wife, MacKenzie. He’s the executive chef at Citico’s in Lenoir City.
Albert Harb, left, and Hash Hashemian.
Here’s how they lure you out of the Great Hall and into the dining tent: champagne! This is Jeff Ross, Blackberry Farm’s Farmstead School manager, who can most often be seen in his overalls in the garden and kitchen at Blackberry.
Ellen Robinson and Peter Acly.
Doug and Melissa White.
Eric and Elaine Zeanah.
Eric’s socks were appropriate!
April and Stephen Harris.
Roasted beet salad with “Wabash Cannonball,” country ham, spinach and cider vinaigrette. Wine was Whetstone Wine Cellars’ “Jon Boat” chardonnay from Carneros, 2013.
Lee and Susan Hyde with Tomory Dodge, right, a contemporary painter from Los Angeles known for his large abstract landscapes. Dodge created the signature image for L’Amour du Vin that was sold during the live auction.
Here are the Hydes again with Brian Lee, the general manager of Blackberry Farm, and Sarah Chabot, Blackberry’s director of marketing.
Second course was grilled quail with pomegranate-sorghum gastrique and Mentone potatoes. Wine was a 2014 Whetstone Wine Cellars’ “Jon Boat” pinot noir from Sonoma Coast.
John Winemiller, left and R.J. Hinde.
Jim and Jeanne Scott.
Debbie Petrolina and Ron Watkins.
Braised beef cheek with bourbon, spoon bread and mushrooms. Yum. Served with 2013 Whetstone Wine Cellars’ “Pleasant Hill” pinot noir from Russian River Valley.
Sheena McCall, left, with Barbara Apking.
Stuart Worden and Lane Hays.
Gerry and Brian Donaldson.
Woki Massaquoi-Wicks and Stephen Wicks.
Penny Lynch and Kimbro Maguire.
Tom Coulter, standing, behind, from left, Tami Hartmann, Mindy Coulter and Bruce Hartmann.
Jan Peters and Charlene Edwards.
WVLT’s Amanda Hara was emcee. Love the dress!
And ANOTHER good dress! This is Phil Perkins.
Dessert was a fantastic chocolate dome cake with candied fruit and ricotta. It was served with a 2012 Whetstone Cellars “Phoenix Ranch” syrah from Napa Valley.
I don’t have to tell you what Alan’s favorite course was!
Our friend, state Sen. Becky Massey, was helping with checkout.
Congratulations to the entire L’Amour du Vin 2016 committee, which was chaired by David and Lisa Reath.