2011 Auction Wrap Up

l’Eté du Vin’s Nashville Crush Successfully Reunites the Wine Community in the Fight Against Cancer

l’Eté du Vin’s Nashville Crush—sponsored by Higham Management, Kenny Chesney, and American Airlines — was held Saturday, July 16, 2011 at Loews Vanderbilt Hotel and achieved marked financial success with new leadership, auction night format changes, dedicated volunteers and event professionals.

Totals last year dipped as a result of the Nashville Flood of 2010 displacing the wine auction. Then staff changes left the organization at a standstill for six months, but the wine community did not want to lose their auction. In addition to the auction’s hardworking board of directors and new staff, many long time patrons rolled up their sleeves, dug deep into their cellars and marked their calendars to assure America’s oldest charity wine auction not only happened, but was kept afloat.

Nashville Crush, chaired by Steven and Pam Taylor, grossed more than $544,000 – a 14% increase from years past with 13% less spending. “These great results were due to several factors,” states l’Eté du Vin Co-Executive Director Holly Whaley. “With the help of many volunteers, we reached out to the serious wine collectors in town and out of town to build an auction catalog any oenophile would drool over.”

“Once the auction preview catalog circulated through the wine community,” reported Co-Executive Director Tom Laffey, “we got very good feedback, and proxy votes from around the country started coming in.”

Another positive factor was adding the structured wine tasting to the auction night. To start the evening, guests tasted Krug Champagne, Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay and the rare Cloudy Bay Tekoko along with little known powerhouse Spanish wine, Numanthia and Termanthia and others. The tasting, sponsored by Pinnacle Financial Partners, was led by Elise Loehr, wine director and proprietor of F. Scott’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar, and Seth Box, wine educator from Moët Hennessy, USA.

Next the Silent Auction sported new bid sheets with preset bid raises and a Buy Now Guaranteed Purchase price set at 200 percent of the value of the wine. These changes helped bidders get down to business as the silent auction was cut short to one hour and the lots kept to 65. The auction raised just as much money with 65 lots as it has in years past with 200, indicating the desirability of the wines on hand. Fourteen of those lots were purchased with the Buy Now Guarantee. Overall the Silent Auction sponsored by Stites & Harbison Attorneys snagged 93% of the value of the wines put out.

Another big success of the evening came with the “Bring Your Own Wine” (BYOW) program, a feature that was designed as a vehicle to allow the wine lovers to bring out their prized bottles to pair with the seated dinner and share with friends.

The Live Auction, sponsored by Tennessee Oncology and produced by Gary Musick Productions, featured precious French wines, aged Italians, cultish Californians and large formats in all categories. The highest priced wine, a double magnum of 1995 Chateau Latour, went for $5,500. But the crowned jewels of the evening were the tastings auctioned by the seat: A Horizontal 1990 Bordeaux tasting of 29 different bottles, to be held at 360 Bistro; A Vertical Chateauneuf-du-Pape tasting of Chateau Rayas and Chateau Beaucastel from 1978 through 2004 held at F. Scott’s; and A California Cult Wine Tasting including 12 high priced, perfectly aged rarities to be paired with dinner at Watermark.

The special dinners in the auction also contributed a fair share to the grand total: Dinner at Nancy Hearn’s Whitehall townhome with Kix and Barbara Brooks went for $12,000; A Gourmet French Dinner at the home of David Morgan; Dinner at the Taylor’s Richland home prepared by local Chefs Cathy A Lewis and Deborah Pacquette with wines from Tom Black; Dinner in the kitchen at the Schermerhorn with the Maestro and the Hearns; Coach Fisher at Fleming’s; Giovanni’s for 12; Cult wines at Kayne Prime; the traditional Foie Gras Dinner at Sunset Grill; and A Port Tasting at Capitol Grille. Bringing in the highest bids were the trips: First Class American Airlines to Champagne and Cognac, France; A Yacht Cruise for two in the Caribbean; Napa for 4; Carmel for 2; Santa Barbara and Au Bon Climate for 4; and Blackberry Farm with Wine Weekend Tuition.

The Live Auction ended in record time, at 9:55 p.m., and every table was still full. The energy throughout the evening was contagious from the dramatic event opener with cancer survivors giving toasts, to the heartfelt plea by Kix Brooks where over 100 bidders raised their paddles, all the way to the last lot of Dom Perignon. Then the music started. Scat Springs Band kept the party going until midnight as bidders celebrated their spoils and the younger set came in for Late Night Crush sponsored by McGraphics, Jaguar, Gary Musick Productions, United Healthcare, and Ste Michelle Wine Estates, along with a long list of desirable in-kind sponsors.

All told, numerous Middle Tennessee cancer fighting organizations will reap the rewards of the proceeds from the evening: American Cancer Society’s Camp Horizon and Hope Lodge, Dan Rudy Cancer Center, Gilda’s Club, Make a Wish Foundation of Middle Tennessee, The Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

Next year’s auction will be held on Saturday, July 21, 2012 at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel with special guests, Jean-Charles Cazes of Chateau Lynch Bages, Dennis Cakebread of Cakebread Cellars and others yet to be announced. As always reservations can be made at www.NashvilleWineAuction.com.

In addition to the annual July auction, l’Eté du Vin also hosts several other wine events throughout the year to engage the wine community in the fight against cancer. The next event, $29 & Under, is scheduled for Sept. 22 at Cabana with an additional event targeting women, “Champagne & Chardonnay,” currently in the planning stages.