L’Amour du Vin 2020: Back when we could have fun!

Sharon Pryse and Dino Cartwright were appropriately dressed at L’Amour du Vin. The weekend’s featured artist, Denise Stewart-Sanabria, often paints lush floral pictures. See the previous Blue Streak post for some examples.

It hasn’t been that long — it actually was just earlier this month — but it seems like an eternity ago. The Knoxville Museum of Art hosted what was one of the last big social occasions many Knoxvillians would attend: its annual wine dinner and auction called  L’Amour du Vin. It was a sellout and raised what surely will turn out to be a record amount of money. The museum has not released that figure yet.

“This was a L’Amour du Vin for the books,” said the museum’s executive director, David Butler. “It was memorable not because the world pretty much fell apart right afterwards — and it was, in fact, the last social thing many of us did for a long time — but because it was such a joyous, seamless, beautiful event. Great food, great wine, the auction was crazy. Perfect. What an evening!”

I think that about sums it up! Check out some photos of the awesome evening.

Volunteer Susan French welcomed guests to the Ann and Steve Bailey Hall with wine glasses in her hand!

This event starts with a cocktail hour and huge silent auction. Various wine distributors pour samples from stations that guests can visit throughout the hour. It’s a good chance to try new wines.

There was no pinot grigio, but I discovered this rose that I really liked.

Doug White and Susan Hyde. He’s the owner of Lexus of Knoxville, the event’s presenting sponsor. She’s the retired longtime development director of the museum.

The museum’s executive director, David Butler, left, with Ashley Capps, a first-time attendee.

Here’s the weekend’s featured artist, Denise Stewart-Sanabria, with her husband, Roberto Sanabria.

There was a lot of wine offered in both the silent and live auctions! Here’s just one option!

My favorite of the passed appetizers — a smoked salmon number prepared by the chefs of Blackberry Farm.

Alan and Rebecca Williams. He was the emcee for the dinner and live auction that would come later.

Gary and Julia Bentley. Her dress reflected the evening’s colorful theme.

Dottie and Glenn Irwin are super wine lovers. In fact, they donated the live auction item called “The Perfect Lot!” It consisted of 13 wines that had garnered a perfect score from at least one of the principal wine pundits. Very generous.

How about a pork rind topped with pimento cheese?

Alan Carmichael, left, with our friends Deanene and Tom Catani.

Beautiful flower arrangements dotted the room. That little bunny is a reference to one of the featured artist’s paintings. Clever.

Crostini helped soak up the wine. Which was important because there was a lot more to come!

More lush flowers.

More.

When it was time to enter the huge tent where dinner would be, guests were welcomed with champagne.

More mingling inside! Here’s Ashley Capps, left, with former Knoxville mayor and Tennessee governor, Bill Haslam, and his wife, Crissy.

Mary Ellen and Steve Brewington.

Great setting.

The museum’s curator, Stephen Wicks, and wife Wokie Massaquoi-Wicks.

From left, Chris Leonard, Mike Strickland, Allison Burchett and Fran Leonard.

Terry and Regina Turner.

Sorry about the lighting on this delish dish. Prepared by guest chef Tory McPhail of Commander’s Palace in New Orleans assisted by the chefs of Blackberry Farm, this tasting of Louisiana shellfish was fabulous. It included jumbo lump crab ravigote, wild white shrimp remoulade and a crispy horseradish crusted Gulf oyster.

The featured winery was Arista in Sonoma County. A 2017 chardonnay from Perli Vineyard in Mendocino Ridge accompanied this course.

Over at table 3 were, from left, Steven and Stefanie Hess and Leslie and Jason Carson.

A fun group! From left, Nell and Paul Kedrow and Sam and Jeanette Brewington.

Allie and Steven Brewington were at that table, too.

This was my favorite course: Chef Paul Prudhomme’s blackened redfish. In addition to the redfish, it consisted of crawfish boiled mirlitons, oyster mushrooms, celery and sweet corn with brown butter vinaigrette and crawfish etouffee.

What a look! An Arista 2017 chardonnay from Sonoma Coast was paired with this.

Everyone was table-hopping. Featured vintner Ben McWilliams was in serious discussion with Mimi and Milton Turner.

Steve Bailey dropped in on Bill Haslam and Annie Colquitt.

Carole Martin dropped by our table. She’s with my hubs, Alan Carmichael.

Also at our table were Ashley Capps and Birgit Clark. They are fun.

So are John Winemiller and R.J. Hinde.

And Fran and Chris Leonard. We had a great table!

By the time this course came, I was too full to eat it! But everyone raved about it. It was an aged rum and molasses-lacquered Texas quail stuffed with a boudin sausage dressing and served over vinegar steamed cabbage and butternut squash with Crystal hot sauce pepper jelly and sticky quail bone jus. Wow.

It was paired with two wines! A 2017 Arista pinot noir from Perli Vineyard in Mendocino Ridge and a 2015 Arista pinot noir from Toboni Vineyard in Russian River Valley. Both were fantastic. (Notice that, although I was too full to eat the quail, I managed to enjoy BOTH wines!)

June and Rob Heller are huge supporters of the Knoxville Museum of Art.

I caught Penny Lynch and Kimbro Maguire taking a break.

David and Martha Reynolds looked like they were having a good time.

Callie and Brett Drummey were happily holding down table 6.

Here are Nordehl and Susan Unbehaun. He’s general manager of Lexus of Knoxville, the presenting sponsor.

From left, George Baddour, Ann Bailey and Rusty and Chase Russell.

Dessert was a New Orleans classic: strawberry and white chocolate bread pudding with berries, a crisp pavlova and melty warm white chocolate ganache. It came with another pinot noir. This one a 2018 Arista from Russian River Valley.

Andy Chabot, Blackberry Farm’s food and beverage director, introduced the chef and the vintner.

Chef Tory McPhail garnered a big, grateful round of applause.

As did Ben McWilliams of Arista Winery. He was accompanied by his wife, Tatiana.

The auction at this event is always quite spirited. You don’t think all that wine has anything to do with it, do you? Alan Williams, left, and Bear Stephenson did the honors.

State Senator Becky Massey helped out by being a spotter. She has good eyes!

Ron and Melissa Feinbaum went home with that “Perfect Lot” I described earlier. They paid generously for 13 bottles of once-in-a-lifetime grape juice! (I was afraid to move a muscle when this bidding was in full swing!)

OK. That was fun. Now, back to the quarantine.

 

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