Thirteen of the city's leading sommeliers put their wine knowledge and creativity to the test Tuesday night at Houston Country Club, where 300 fans of the Periwinkle Foundation turned out for the "Iron Sommelier 2011" benefit evening.
It was a spirited gathering for guests who journeyed through the ballroom visiting each sommelier's station where he or she had selected three special wines from a favorite region. Ron Brandani of Carrabba's on Kirby, for example, offered a tour of the Piedmont while Philippe's Vanessa Trevino Boyd focused on Burgundy.
The sommeliers were rated on wine selection, presentation, creativity and knowledge of their selections. Casting their votes were judges Jonathan Honefenger, lead sommelier at Richard's, wine writer Randy McCrea and Houston Wine Merchant owner Scott Spencer.
Sean Beck of Backstreet Cafe, Hugo's and Trevisio repeated his wins of 2007 and 2009 with his focus on Grenache wines. Bryan Davis of Haven won the people's choice popularity contest with his introduction of Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs.
More than mere wine tasting, there was a certain amount of schmoozing as well as a colorful auction featuring the art work of children participating in the Periwinkle Foundation's Making A Mark program at Texas Children's Hospital. A jazz ensemble entertained as the money churned in at the big board auction which featured art from the foundation's 20th anniversary Making a Mark collection. Artists contributing to that included John Palmer, Kelly Gale Amen, Kermit Eisenhut and Jonatan Lopez.
Rounding out the contingent of sommeliers putting their best tasting forward were Le Mistral's Sylvain Denis, El Meson's Pedro Garcia, Fleming's Sam Governale, Republic National Distributing's Saree Mulhern, Mark's American Cuisine's Cathy Nguyen, Masraff's Ben Roberts, 13 Celsius' Mike Sammons, Evan Turner of the soon-to-open Fox Hollow Gastro Lounge and the duo representing Café Rabelais and Brasserie Max & Julie Tatiana Panirovskaya and Christophe Paul.