Society Column: Fundraiser guests sampled rare cognacs


On Jan. 24 Dr. Margaret Watanabe of Indianapolis hosted a wine and cognac tasting fundraiser event at her estate to benefit the American Pianists Association. The evening offered exciting opportunities to enjoy both music and fine cuisine. Pianist Sean Chen, who performed at the event, is a graduate of Juilliard and is currently the association’s Christel DeHaan Classical Fellow – a position awarded to a competition winner that carries a cash prize and career assistance for two years.

Benedicte Hardy of Maison Hardy in the Cognac Region of France brought some of the rarest cognac in the world for those who purchased dinner reservations. The Hardy Privilege is a purely French pre-phylloxera (epidemic that destroyed 90 percent of French grapes around 1863 to 1870) cognac. Prior to the blight, American disease-resistant rootstock was grafted onto French vines to preserve and restore the industry.

Once these 19th century rarities are gone, there of course, will never be others. Currently, only six or seven bottles exist in the States, and 400 bottles worldwide. If someone were to buy it, the cost is about $12,500 per bottle. Also, dinner guests were able to taste 120-year-old Hardy Perfection and 95-year-old Hardy Rosebud cognacs, which together would retail for approximately $12,000. Laurent Drouhin of Maison Joseph Drouhin in the Burgundy Region of France, brought Drouhin Clos de Mouche Blanc 2011 and Drouhin Vosnee Romance 2010 for dinner guests.

The 5-course dinner was prepared by renowned Indianapolis chef, Trish McIlroy.

For those who purchased tickets for tasting only, pre-dinner tastings included 10-year-old Hardy VSOP and 20-year-old Hardy XO and 50- year-old Hardy Noces D’Or cognacs and Drouhin 2011 Chablis, 2011 Rully, 2011 Santenay and 2011 Gevrey-Chambertain wines.

David Honig and Kim Thomas co-chaired the event. Among the 70-80 attendees for the event were: Joel Harrison, Artistic Director, President and CEO of the association; Steve McNear, Chaiman of the Board with wife Deb McNear; Lamar and Jean Richcreek; Frank Allen; Donna Eide; Beth Ann Kendall; Brian and Susan Williams; Leanne and Michael McNeil; Joni and Nick Hrisomolos and Bridget Rawlins, to mention a few.

If you would like Current in Carmel to attend your party, gala or social function, please call Tonya Burton at 432-2451 to schedule your event. We would be happy to photograph guests and let our readers know about upcoming society events.

Tonya Burton is the Current’s social scene columnist. You may contact her at

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