Houston Symphony: 2018 Wine Dinner and Collector’s Auction: A Legendary “Symphony of Wines”

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Photos by Wilson Parish

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On Friday, January 26, 2018 the Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts was the scene of Houston Symphony’s 2018 Wine Dinner and Collector’s Auction titled A Legendary ‘Symphony of Wines.” Elizabeth and Alan Stein co-chaired the event and Beth Madison was honorary chair. The sumptuous fête benefitted Houston Symphony’s education and community programming.

A sell-out crowd of almost 350 guests gathered at Jones Hall for the black-tie event. The evening began with a cocktail hour during which guests mingled and perused the collector’s auction while enjoying tasty hors d’oeuvres. Wine served during this portion of the evening included Castelnau Champagne NV, Henri de Villamont Savigny-les-Beaune Blanc (2015), Francois Labet Ile de Beauté Pinot Noir (2014), and JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset No. 69 Rosé NV.

One of the evening’s highlights was the presence of Houston Symphony’s new executive director and CEO, John Magnum. He was there as a guest of Margaret Alkek Williams.

The stand-out collector’s auction, chaired by Bob Weiner, included over 130 lots. These consisted of rare and spectacular wines and spirits, as well as exclusive trips, dinners, and experiences designed to thrill all the wine aficionados present. Guests were especially excited to participate in the annual raffle for a curated collection of 12 special 100-point wines. Won by Maureen Higdon, the raffle itself raised $12,000.

Guests entering the stage of Jones Hall after cocktails were awestruck by its transformation. Thanks to Richard Flowers and the Events Company, they found themselves stepping into an intimate wine cellar with tables glistening with candles and wearing red floral arrangements. Immediately before dinner was served, guests were honored with a musical performance by musicians from the Houston Symphony.

Dinner, a multi-coarse extravaganza catered by City Kitchen, was accompanied by exceptional wine pairings chosen by Lindy and John Rydman and Lisa Rydman of Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods. The first course of torchon of foie gras with chardonnay gelée and toasted brioche and smoked breast of duck with a salad of roasted beets, shaved sunchokes, hazelnuts, and watercress was paired with Château de Santenay Chassagne-Montrachet (2014) and Berthaut-Gerbet Fixin (2015). Between the first and second courses, guests were served tomato fennel sorbet intermezzo. The second course of rack of veal with marchand de vin sauce with porcini mushrooms, butternut squash tart with peppered bacon and blue cheese, wilted kale, and gougères was paired with Château Branaire-Ducru (2008), Château Haut-Batailley (2008) and Château L’Evangile (2006). The dessert spread of new bananas Foster, spiced dacquoise with bananas and brown sugar cremeaux, vanilla bean gelato with rum caramel sauce, and cinnamon plantain was paired with Meukow V.S.O.P. Superior Cognac.

In all, the spectacular evening raised nearly $570,000 for the education and community activities of the musicians of the Houston Symphony.

Guests: Farida Abjani , Margaret Alkek Williams, Robin Angly and Miles Smith, Ann and Jonathan Ayre, Gina and Devinder Bhatia, Ralph Burch, Darrin Davis and Mario Gudmundsson, Viviana and David Denechaud, Beth Madison, Cora Sue and Harry Mach, Joella and Steve Mach, Mary Lynn and Steve Marks, Lindy & John Rydman and Lisa Rydman, Elizabeth and Alan Stein, and Betty and Jesse Tutor.

About Houston Symphony

Founded in 1913 the Houston Symphony has played a central role in Houston’s cultural and civic life for more than 100 years and is now one of America's oldest performing arts organizations. Today, the Houston Symphony’s 87 musicians perform approximately 170 concerts annually, making it the largest performing arts organization in Houston. The season, which starts in September and runs through May, includes 18 classical concerts, 9 BBVA Compass POPS concerts, 4 family concerts and a number of Symphony Specials. The Symphony also offers a Sugar Land Series at Sugar Land Baptist Church and often performs in The Woodlands at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. 

Its mission is to inspire and engage a large and diverse audience in Greater Houston and beyond through exceptional orchestral and non-orchestral performances, educational programs, and community activities. 

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