Statuesque Patricia Kluge, once a dramatic presence here with a couture wardrobe and great jewelry, is seldom seen in Washington these days. She is a farmer now in Charlottesville, and wears jeans most of the time. She recently presided over a special dinner at the St. Regis Hotel showcasing foods and wines from her own property.
A newcomer to viticulture, Patricia set her standards high, emulating a Charlottesville neighbor who predated her by almost 200 years: our third president, Thomas Jefferson. He wrote of his travels in the Bordeaux vineyards he loved so much and attempted to produce similar fine wines in Charlottesville, at Monticello. While in that region hybrid grapes are the most easily grown, Patricia, passed them by to plant European classic vines, but with far more success than Jefferson.
After planting her first vines in 1999, she wisely brought a “guest winemaking team” over from Bordeaux and Champagne with the latest expertise.
Today her luxury sparkling and still wines are hand made and bottled at her state-of-the-art estate winery. Pat's 1,300 acre Albemarle County property was part of her divorce settlement from tycoon John Kluge. His fortune ($13 billion at last count) has long made him one of Forbes' Richest Americans, enabling him to make a $60 million gift to the Library of Congress that has endeared him forever to that institution. The donation was made years ago, when his net worth was smaller, but at that time the $60 million represented a mere 1% of his estimated net worth.
Wine buffs and wine writers rejoiced at the dinner organized by Daniel Mahdavian, the St. Regis wine and spirits director. The aperitif was a 2002 Sparkling Kluge Estate SP using Chardonnay, the classic blanc de blanc Champagne grape, as well as the classic vinification method of that region. Quail stuffed with chorizo and Virginia ham partnered a rubytinted 2002 Albemarle Simply Red, a Bordeaux-style Cabernet Sauvignon with the traditional Bordeaux blend grapes, Merlot and Cabernet Franc added. A mid-meal sorbet from heirloom yellow tomatoes brought a 2003 Albemarle Rosé that rivaled the dark pink wines of Tavel. Truffle-sauced Virginia bison filet drew a full-bodied 2001 Kluge Estate New World Red, then artisan local cheeses ended it all splendidly with a Kluge Estate Cru, New World Fortified White Wine.
Co-hosting was husband Kluge's husband Bill Moses, a retired IBM executive who is CEO of the many-faceted enterprise she is creating. Most of the food sold at the on-site Kluge Farm Shop is produced on the estate, prepared by her chef and her pastry chef to produce a very sophisticated “take-out” that attracts gourmets from great distances. With that, and her vineyards, you would think she has her hands full, but she will soon be opening a fine-food restaurant in downtown Charlottesville, housed in a rebuilt gas station, and whimsically named “Fuel.” And, she heads an investment group, as well.
Pat is a major philanthropist and has generously funded many charitable projects. She also serves on a myriad of local and national boards, ranging from the American Foundation for AIDS Research to the Asia Society.
“KILL ALL THE LAWYERS!” That was the oft-quoted advice of a treacherous plotter in Shakespeare's “Henry VI.” The phrase, sometimes seen on spoofing plaques in law offices, went unheeded one recent afternoon when 250 lawyers assembled. It was quite unusual, and touching, that so many of them attended a retirement party in the Alexandria Federal Courthouse for Nash Schott upon his retirement as a criminal prosecutor and assistant United States attorney.
High-ranking court officials remarked on how many of the young lawyers present had been mentored by Schott during his 26 years there. Calling him a “warrior for Justice,” they spoke with regret of his retirement, and of his dedication and true love for the law. Schott's wife, Aniko Gaal Schott and a few personal friends were there, including Nina and Philip Pillsbury; John and Giselle Theberge Jepson; Maximo and Sedi Flugelman; Jill Smart Gore; Samia Farouki; Ruthie Leffall; Jim and Nancy Rosebush; Laurie Monahan, and John Giacomini. Ambassador friends included Hungarian Ambassador Andras Simonyi and his wife, Nada; Kuwaiti Ambassador Salem Al-Sabah; Bolivian Ambassador Jaime Aparicio and his wife, Pamela; Jellie van Eenennaam, wife of the ambassador of the Netherlands; Maria Felice Mekouar, wife of the Moroccan ambassador; and former Afghan Ambassador Ishaq Sharyar and his wife, Hafizah. Up from Palm Beach were Nash's father Lewis and stepmother Mary Schott, while Mary's daughter, NBC news correspondent Felicia Taylor, came down from New York, as did Nash's brother Steven. Their sister, Victoria de Rothschild, came from farthest away, as she flew in from London.
WHAT THE PARTY-POOPERS MISSED: Hafizah and Ishaq Sharyar gave a surprise birthday party for Pamela Aparicio that drew more than 80 of the city's most-oftenseen party-goers. A fascinating latecomer that many missed, because she arrived very late after another dinner, was Pakistan's former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.
Long-rumored to be planning to run again, despite accusations of corruption that earlier got her ousted from office, she was peppered with questions by the remaining guests. Despite a 7 a.m. interview the next day, she stayed very late, proving a lively conversationalist both in group discussions and in one-on-ones as people took turns sitting by her on the sofa. In one such twosome, we talked of Hunza, the Shangri-la type land that was once an independent country and is now part of Pakistan. She told me welcome news of the family of the mir, the traditional ruler of Hunza, whose Christmas cards I cherish.
MUSICAL GRACE NOTES: Author Joe Horowitz is a major advocate of post-classical music, advisor to several symphony orchestras and an outspoken critic who manages to be soft-spoken at the same time. A linked series of events, and the outstanding musicianship of conductor Angel Gil Ordoñez last month brought many Washingtonians insights on post-classical music—the controversial “new directions” musical movement that retains some elements of classical structure, but is often performed with unconventional instruments.
It was much discussed when Barbara Gordon gave a cocktail party honoring Gil-Ordoñez, who is the music director of the Post-Classical Ensemble. Austrian Ambassador Eva Nowotny had invited him to conduct Mahler's “Das Lied von der Erde” (“The Song of the Earth”) at the embassy to what became a fascinated audience. The piece itself, as written by Mahler, embodies 8th century Chinese poetry in its texts, (which were sung by mezzo-soprano Dolores Ziegler). Angel presented the Mahler in conjunction with Tang poetry, traditional Chinese music played on a twostringed erhu fiddle, and music played by four-members of the Music From China ensemble. Washington Post critic Joseph McLellan's appreciative review, spoke of conductor Gil- Ordoñez's “precise sense of idiom and style” and quoted the concert's opening remarks by Horowitz, who introduced the Post-Classical Ensemble, saying that crossing boundaries is what this music is about and may be a key to the future of classical music.
THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT: When Gertie D'Amecourt gets an inspiration, nothing stops her until the idea become actuality. She has to get it done. Gertie has a passion for music, and ever since she was invited by famed clarinetist Gervase de Peyer to hear pianist Stanley Babin play, she was determined to hear him again. Deciding that Babin needed to give a concert in Washington, she went into action. With the assistance of Chateau and Stanley Gardecki, sponsors of the Washington International Piano Arts Council, and the Austrian embassy for the setting, it all fell into place. Gertie gave the kick-off cocktail party for the event, which raised funds to benefit Tsunami victims, and garnered plaudits for Babin's performance.
GLOBE-TROTTING POSTCOLLEGIATES: Former State Department spokesperson Phyllis Oakley once made history by answering a reporter who wanted to know if it was true that then-Secretary of State George Schulz had a Princeton Tiger tattooed on his rear. Unflappable Phyllis took a breath and said, “I am not in a position to comment on that.”
Recently she and a Northwestern University pal, foreign affairs columnist Georgie Anne Geyer, celebrated their joint “Jubilee” birthday with a tea dance for 200 at the Cosmos Club, complete with a 600-balloon launch in purple and white, their college colors. Guests included many foreign service types and a few journalists, who wondered if “tea” dance was to be taken literally. The reassuring answer: “No, there are three bars.”
Hardy musicians Ramón Ballvé and Dave Wundrow from the Prime Rib supplied non-stop dance tunes (and Susan and Hedrick Smith turned into Fred and Ginger). Musicallyinclined members of the Gridiron Club serenaded the girls in a program emceed by Robert Novak. Taking a cue from the heading on the invitations “How Two Midwestern Girls left Northwestern and Took on the World…the adventures of two infamous globe-trotting Wildcats,” Don Larrabee did the lyrics (to the tune of “Thank Heaven for Little Girls.”) which began: “Thank Heaven for Older Girls They're bolder when they're older S'il vous plait Thank Heaven for Older Girls They're wiser in December than in May There's virtue in the ladies who have mileage They know the way to go, and how they go, is sty-lish”
The ultimate birthday tribute.
Do you have an item “Around Town” should know about? Send it to me at email@example.com.