Once upon a time it was just the city's premier wine event, a charity auction held on a spring Saturday evening in support of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. But now the Art of Good Taste is a month of events throughout April, a festival intended to celebrate fine wine, superb cuisine, and even better fellowship.
This year's festivities kick off Friday evening, April 5th, at 7 p.m. with a new event, Brooks Uncorked! On the museum's magnificent outdoor plaza, decked out for the occasion, guests will sample wines from around the world, graciously provided and served by local distributors, and cuisine from the Brushmark restaurant, enjoy the musical offerings of Hudson & Saleeby, and participate in a live auction of wines, trips, art, and dinners. Tickets are $75 per person.
"We wanted to create an event for people who already have an interest in wine but want to take that interest to a new level," explains David Tate, Brooks 2002 Art of Good Taste co-chairman. "We want people to understand that it doesn't take a high brow or a deep pocket to appreciate and enjoy excellent wine."
Given this emphasis, the Brooks has found a perfect fit in their selection of guest vintners for this event in Jean-Noel and Marketta Fourmeaux, the husband-and-wife proprietors of Chateau Potelle, one of Napa Valley's emerging superstar wineries. Nestled atop Mt. Veeder, with spectacular vistas of the valley below, Chateau Potelle was founded by Jean-Noel and Marketta in the mid-1980s, when they moved to California from their native Bordeaux. Since then, their top-of-the-line Chardonnays and Zinfandels (which carry the label designation "V.G.S." for, well, "very good horse manure") have won scores of national awards and routinely figure in rankings of the best producers in these categories.
Ideally suited for the role of wine-snob bashing, Jean-Noel Fourmeaux has long been an advocate of making his industry more user-friendly, particularly when it comes to attracting a new, younger audience for fine wines. "Though he's perfectly willing to play the game, Fourmeaux doesn't focus on wine scores," noted Wine and Spirits magazine in a recent issue. "To him, it's either good or bad."
Fourmeaux's goal has been, he says, "to get away from the big, oaky wines, trying to fashion our wines in a more subtle style, perhaps between the prevailing styles of California and French: not too rich and not too austere."
Jean-Noel and Marketta will be serving some of their own wines at Brooks Uncorked!, and several older vintages will be available as lots in the live-auction portion of the event. Perhaps the highlight -- along with a VIP tasting trip to California wine country -- will be a "Dutch auction" for seats at a lavish dinner with the Fourmeauxs, to be held the following evening, April 6th, at Erling Jensen's restaurant. The last five couples standing will enjoy some real V.G.S. with the winemakers themselves.
The Art of Good Taste season continues with other notable events throughout April and culminates with the Grand Auction on Saturday, April 20th, at 6 p.m. at the Brooks. Guest international vintner for that event -- which will feature cruises, trips, and art as well as superb wine offerings -- will be Thierry Gardinier of Chateau Phélan-Ségur, one of Bordeaux's best producers. Tickets for the Grand Auction are $100 per person.
For information on any and all events, contact the Brooks at 544-6219. All proceeds go to support the museum's exhibition, education, and acquisition programs.