Fine Wines and an Unforgettable Meal at the l’Eté du Vin Patrons Party

When it comes to exquisite culinary events in town, there is simply no match for the l’Eté du Vin Patrons Dinner. The Nashville Wine Auction pulls out all the stops for the intimate black-tie affair, in which a world-class meal and exemplary wines take center stage, and this year’s event was truly one for the books.

The wines of Marchesi Antinori, a 635-year-old Italian winery, were the stars of the show, perfectly complemented with a meal prepared by The Hermitage Hotel’s new chef, Kelsi Armijo, who is heading up the Jean-Georges restaurant, Drusie & Darr. Guests began their evening in the spectacular lobby of the hotel, sipping a Tenuta Montenisa Franciacorta sparkling rosé and nibbling on cornmeal-crusted oysters, smoked salmon mousse crisps and brie puff pastries.

When everyone took their seats in the ballroom, Board Chair Lisa Maki began the program by honoring Holly Whaley’s 10 years leading the Nashville Wine Auction. “Thank you for all you’ve done for this organization,” Lisa said. “You are leaving it a better place.” Holly, who is retiring from her role as president and CEO this year, received a standing ovation and lively round of applause for her service. Lisa also introduced the incoming president and CEO, Loren Chumley, who paid homage to the legacy that Holly has created and championed the generosity of the organization’s patrons.

The leisurely evening included four superb courses — the duck confit gnocchi with orange-braised fennel and spiced pistachio was a standout — paired with eight wines from Marchesi Antinori’s cellars. In between courses, there were breaks to hear remarks about the wines from Niccolò Maltinti, brand ambassador for Marchesi Antinori, and to honor Bill Nunnelly with the Norman M. Lipman Award. And no Nashville Wine Auction event would be complete without feverish bidding over one-of-a-kind lots in the live auction! The biggest ticket item this year was a dinner for eight at La Bernardin in New York City with nine rare wines from the Acker Cellar. The package went for a whopping $26,000!

The evening was a memorable night of gourmet food, delicious wines and an exceptional amount of fundraising for cancer research — exactly what we’ve come to expect from the country’s longest-running charity wine auction.