Speakers Table

The kickoff with the Tour de France

October 2, 2011

Skip the bikes, add five glasses of wine, and you’ll have the Tour de France for a sophisticated palate without the physical exertion. On Friday night, wine lovers, wine enthusiasts, and those new to the wine game gathered at La Maison Française (in The Embassy of France) to attend the first of four tasting classes offered by Le Studio this season. The program’s leader and renowned wine journalist Claire Morin-Gibourg, along with educator Vincent Morin and sommelier  and  wine connoisseur Philippe Marchal, presented five wines.

The group enjoying the Tour de France one region at a time (Photo by: Judith Beermann) The group enjoying the Tour de France one region at a time

The trio kicked off the evening with a glass of delicate Champagne Taittinger Brut La Française. Spoiler alert: this was definitely the table favorite. With its heavy Chardonnay presence (over 40%, twice the normal amount used in a standard cuvee), the buttery notes, and the light and dry mouth feel started the tasting with a bang. 

We then continued onto Bourgogne/Mâconnais where we sampled a 2008 white Burgundy from Pouilly Fuissé Domaine Ferret. The Domaine’s location is set in one of the most diverse appellations with a wide spectrum of rocks and soil. The mineral and chalky overtones of this terroir in the wine were a true representation of a southern Burgundy.

Chris Addison of Georgetown’s Addison-Ripley gallery enjoys a glass of the Savigny les Beaunes 1er Cru la Dominode Louis Jadot 2007 (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Chris Addison of Georgetown’s Addison-Ripley gallery enjoys a glass of the Savigny les Beaunes 1er Cru la Dominode Louis Jadot 2007

We stayed in the Burgundy region with our next wine, but traveled to the Côte de Beaune province to Savigny lès Beaunes. The vineyard is set between Beaune and Pernand, and third in production of red wine in the Côte de Beaune area. We sampled the 2007 1er Cru la Dominode Louis Jadot. The wine had a true Pinot taste with a black pepper finish, a perfect spicy end to our Burgundy stop.

What’s a wine tour without hitting Bordeaux? The Pomerol Christian Moueix 2006, while not the best year (admitted by Vincent Morin), was deep in color, and rich in nose. While we were slightly disappointed with the flavor, we were assured that we would not be disappointed with a change of year.

Our tour ended in Rhône at the Châteauneuf-du-Pape to sample the 2007 Château Mont Redon. The wine consisted of four different grape varieties that each brought out a different feature of the wine. The Cinsault grape emphasized the fruitiness, the Grenache spiced up the wine, Syrah added the structure, and Counoise (not found in any other blend) enhanced the alcohol and added a degree of acidity.

Georgetown Smile’s Dr. Peretz enjoyed the tasting with Emilia Pawlowski (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Georgetown Smile’s Dr. Peretz enjoyed the tasting with Emilia Pawlowski

The wine experts were thorough in their presentation of each wine, and passionate about their subject giving us pairing suggestions and tasting techniques to enhance our wine experience. After the tasting, guests were invited to indulge in the cheese and charcuterie buffet, and try some our own pairing creations.

The program has four classes remaining. October 18th will be all about Burgundy, November 10th will consist of wines from the Loire Valley, and the last class on December 1st will indulge in Cognac Hennessy.

Marie-Helene Zavala pictured here with the assortment of cheese and charcuterie available after the tasting (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Marie-Helene Zavala pictured here with the assortment of cheese and charcuterie available after the tasting

“The great thing we are doing this year, is inviting actual winemakers from these regions,” says Vincent Morin. “We are hoping this will add an extra element to these classes so participants can interact and talk with the people who actually make the wine.”

All the wines tasted were made available at a discount through Bassin's Mac Arthur Beverages.

Classes are $75 per person and can be purchased at La Maison Francaise.


Written by Hillary Leeb

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D.C. Council luxury tickets need to go

September 28, 2011

Next Saturday, Oct. 8, the Washington Capitals start their regular season. Under a sweetheart deal arranged by our elected officials, Councilmembers and the Mayor enjoy two free luxury suites in the Verizon Center. A similar sweetheart deal has been arranged with the Washington Nationals. The late owner of the Verizon Center, Abe Pollin, gave the Mayor access to a suite as a thank-you for $50 million dollars the District put into renovations to the arena. A second suite was given to the D.C. Council once Councilmembers demanded their own.

Bob Kabel, Chairman, D.C. Republican Committee (Photo by: D.C. Republican Committee) Bob Kabel, Chairman, D.C. Republican Committee
These so-called "free" luxury tickets are provided to our elected officials each year and famously caused a rift between former Mayor Adrian Fenty and the Council in recent years. Obviously, the luxury suites are a distraction for our elected officials, not to mention an invitation for more ethical problems. Like moths to a light, some D.C. Councilmembers compete for premium events and just can't help themselves from talking about it.

While the NHL regular season hasn't started, that didn't stop Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander. Councilmember Alexander, who is up for reelection, offered her free pre-season Capital's tickets on Monday night to any takers on her Twitter account.

You would think, under any normal circumstance, the practice of shelling out free luxury tickets to elected officials would be perceived as an ethical conflict, not to mention their easy conversion into election-oriented currency. Why should Councilmembers get free tickets when the rest of us have to pay for them?

Paul Craney, Executive Director, D.C. Republican Committee (Photo by: D.C. Republican Committee) Paul Craney, Executive Director, D.C. Republican Committee
Last week, the Council voted to raise taxes. Some Councilmembers used excuses that they needed to raise taxes for the sake of the "have nots" of our city. Others claimed there were no good alternatives but to raise taxes. Never mind the fact that they were voting to raise taxes when there was a projected surplus. Or the fact that Councilmember Michael Brown used taxpayer money to redecorate his office and Councilmember Vincent Orange floated the idea of pay raises. Moody's Investor Services and Fitch Rating placed the city's credit outlook from stable to negative.

It would be hypocritical for Councilmembers, to reverse course, a week after raising taxes for the "have nots" and hold onto the tickets. The D.C. Republican Committee sent a letter to D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown and challenged him to use the powers of eBay and auction off each and every ticket to raise money for the District. The letter to Chairman Brown encouraged him to deposit the proceeds into the General Fund. If some Councilmembers want to raise taxes, it is only fair they share a small sacrifice and sell the tickets for the public's good.

District residents deserve to be spared of the nonsense that seems to engulf our elected officials every year. Moody's may have downgraded the District's outlook but Chairman Brown can easily use eBay to upgrade our finances. We hope he will use this opportunity to permanently end this absurd practice and help increase our city's dwindling reserves.

Authors Bob Kabel and Paul Craney are Chairman and Executive Director, respectively, of the District of Columbia Republican Committee.

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Fashion feeding frenzy at the District Sample Sale

September 27, 2011

When Jimmy Buffett sang “You’ve got fins to the left, fins to the right,” who knew his lyrics would ring true for the fall 2011 District Sample Sale on Monday night, put on by the Haute Committee to benefit the WEAVE Charity. With prices up to 75% off  (yes, you read that correctly), dropping a discounted Marc Jacobs dress in a group of the fashion savvy and hungry could be just as dangerous as a shark feeding frenzy without the mess, but every bit as fierce.

Shoppers at the raffle table (Photo by: Guest of a Guest) Shoppers at the raffle table

Haute Committee (Photo by: Guest of a Guest) Haute Committee

The Haute Committee puts on the District Sample Sale twice a year, one in spring and the other in fall. The proceeds from ticket sales ($40 per person for general admission, $100 for VIP, and $250 for Benefactress), silent auction, and raffle go toward a charity of the Committee’s choosing. The spring sale helps a children’s charity, while the fall event benefits a women’s organization. This year’s proceeds go directly to WEAVE, a charity dedicated to eliminating intimate partner abuse.

WEAVE Charity table (Photo by: Guest of a Guest) WEAVE Charity table

Just walking to the event, you could start to feel the buzz of excitement as groups of excited shoppers seemed to triple by the block as they neared 1919 M Street. A 6:30 start time attracted swarms of Washington’s most fashionable as they circled the event’s clothing and shoe boutiques in search of the best deals. Over 25 of D.C.’s trendiest boutiques including Julia Farr, Caramel, Simply Soles, and Lettie Gooch set up camp in a loft donated by Vornado/Charles E. Smith to display summer mark-downs, and give guests a sneak peak at their fall looks.

Co-founders Mary Amons, Barbara Martin, Liberty Jones, Shannon Haley, Jayne Sandman (Photo by: Abby Greenwalt) Co-founders Mary Amons, Barbara Martin, Liberty Jones, Shannon Haley, Jayne Sandman

“I saw my first boot fight at this event,” said Barbara Martin, one of the event’s co-founders, “One woman had one boot, another had the match, and neither of them was going to give it up. But for boots originally $250 now going for $75, who wouldn’t fight for that?”

Clothing boutiques weren’t the only ones showcasing their best of the best. Restaurants such as Barcode, Current, and Hudson Restaurant & Lounge positioned themselves around the venue, sampling their menu favorites for famished guests who needed a break from the sales. Cocktails were also available for those wanting to take the edge off from all the excitement. Georgetown Cupcake also made for a delightful addition to the discounting affair. Strawberry cupcake in one hand, Diane Von Furstenberg dress on sale in the other - can life get any better?

For those who needed a little pampering, one80 Salon offered their services to give guests one of their famous “Gorgeous Glossy Blowouts,” (Allure Magazine 2009).

Jewelry by Allison Brooks at Queen Bee Designs (Photo by: Hillary Leeb) Jewelry by Allison Brooks at Queen Bee Designs

Celebrity sightings: Hark back to the cast of the Real Housewives of DC where Mary Schmidt Amons amazed with her super mom skills of running a five-kid household. In addition to her mom duties, she also found time to co-found the District Sample Sale along with Liberty Jones, Barbara Martin, Jayne Sandman, and Shannon Haley. Mary was spotted making her rounds at the event.


Fall trends: One thing is certain, backless dresses are "in" for those going out for a night on the town. High-waisted jeans, and big jewelry were also among the trends spotted at the District Sample Sale.

“We couldn’t have imagined this event having so much success each year,” said Martin. With lines out the door by 6:45, word has certainly traveled fast over the past five years.

Until spring, you fashion discount lovers!

For a complete list of sponsors visit District Sample Sale .


Written by Hillary Leeb

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