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Steve Winwood : Inside IWM

The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Winwood. Waxman. Wine.

A Generous Evening

John Lee Hooker did it with Jack, George Thorogood prefers Johnnie Walker, and Eddie Vedder currently goes with West Coast reds. On the evening of the benefit for the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation, Steve Winwood chose a glass of wine to accompany his live performance. I’ve always taken interest in people’s preferred choice of beverage; as a kid, if someone was drinking chocolate milk I had to ask Hershey or Nestles; this question graduated to Coke or Pepsi in high school, Dockstreet or Yuengling in college, and just a few days ago it was Don Julio 1942 Anejo or El Tesoro’s Paradiso. On the night of the benefit, it was nice to see the rock prodigy behind Traffic and Blind Faith have a half-filled glass of red rest beside his signature Hammond B3 Organ, as opposed to the more traditional bottle of Bud that adorns the stage of so many performers. (Though that being said—and despite being in the wine trade—I can attest that an ice cold Bud longneck served alongside seasoned crawfish on a hot New Orleans summer day has few pairing rivalries.)

Perry and Sue Porricelli in the pit, just twenty feet from Stevie playing Dear Mr. Fantasy. Not a bad place to be.

Perry and Sue Porricelli in the pit, just twenty feet from Stevie playing Dear Mr. Fantasy. Not a bad place to be.

But on this evening, it wasn’t a question of which beer or wine, it was about the music and, even more important, the Waxman Foundation’s efforts. Being able to participate in events like this one is certainly one of the rewarding aspects of my job, and over the past seven years we have contributed to hundreds of causes, raising millions of dollars benefitting displaced victims of Katrina to participating in the fight against cancer.  And while our blue chip donation packages, which ranged from White Truffle Dinners to Wine Adventures to Italy with Sergio, are consistent attractions, we are always looking for something new to catch the fancy of enthusiasts to provide them with an excuse to give generously to the cause.  This year, I went outside Italy and into our Cellar Management Division in search of creating the perfect Starter Collection. My goal was to fill a 54-bottle Viking Wine Fridge with stand-out wines from around the world.  I couldn’t resist including the obscure to the historic:  Chateau Musar’s Rouge; Chateau Montrose; Huet L’Echansonne Vouvray Moelleux Clos Bourg 1er Trie 1990; Mastroberardino—and that’s just the first four wines. I’m proud to say this collection raised $20,000, along with another $80,000 in other packaged donations from the team of IWM, Sergio Esposito, and Michael Nierenberg.

Looking back on the evening, I remember the amazing music, the fantastic vibe, and the incredible generosity. I feel great about the wines I put together for that generous cause, and I feel fantastic about how the Waxman Foundation will put the money to developing the most promising cures and treatment for various types of cancer.

Thank you Winwood, Waxman, and Wine, for a memorable and rewarding experience.