Last Thursday evening, the Canadian Opera Company hosted their 13th Annual Fine Wine Auction. Held at the art-deco chic Design Exchange, 400 attendees indulged in a lovely soiree of wine, hors d’oeuvres, cheese, music, and of course the auction of fine wines and unique experiences… all in support of the COC who relies heavily on the generous donations from corporations and individuals.
There certainly was a benchmark to surpass; last year the COC raised a million dollars at this event. This year, the COC team must have been very busy, securing 92 lots of fine wines for the live auction, and over 80 lots of wines & spirits and 70+ experiences/items for the silent auction. Of course there were the usual Bordeaux finds such as a bottle of 1985 Château Petrus (price range $1,500-$3,200) or 5 bottles of 2005 Château la Mission Haut-Brion ($2,950-$6,500). However, the live auction included a number of other fine wines from Australia, Italy, and Portugal. The silent auction also included a large number of wines from California, Italy, Australia and France, along with a nice selection of Scotch Whisky and cognac. Regarding the experiential items, packages up for bid ranged from cookbooks, gift certificates, weekend getaways, concert tickets, jewellery, and a piece of art. One memorable one was a gift certificate to Ki – love that restaurant! No surprise, there was a lot to choose from!
The crowd was a mix of Bay St., senior executives, key influencers, and those just wanting to support the local arts. The mood was light but with a slightly serious undertone, as wine afficionados researched the line-up of wines and readied their wallets for the occasion. Serious bidders congregated at the front of the room to ensure their bids would not be missed during the live auction. Those in attendance for the ambiance continued to mingle by the wine & cheese. Keen silent auction bidders were often seen regularly checking their bids, to make sure they were in the lead. There definitely was an air of anticipation throughout the evening.
Trius wines were served, along with a selection of hot and cold hors d’oeuvres from caterer 10nation. From comfort foods like mac & cheese, pad thai, to vegetarian spring rolls, there was certainly something for everyone’s palate. Check out these ever-so-cute bite sized hamburgers. What a lovely idea, as no matter what, there is no elegant way to eat a slider at a reception! Truly bite size food is perfect.
An hour-and-a-half into the reception, the MC came out to introduce the rules of engagement. The crowd was quite lively at that point and may not have been the most cooperative, continuing to chat amongst themselves ignoring his pleas. The poor guy kept shushing them up. But what brought the crowd to a bit of a halt was a short opera programme by a young statuesque opera signer, dressed in a long coral gown. A duet with a piano, the singer engaged the crowd, serenading a gentleman which helped to bring some laughter to the room.
Then the live auction was off! It is always fun to see this in action; unfortunately the bidding happened so quickly, my camera was not speedy enough to capture the moment! The bids were not as subtle as you’ve seen in the movies, where even a nose scratch would be considered a bid. However the action was fast and furious…and there were 92 lots to get through! I lost track after the first few lots, but one memorable one was the sale of three bottles of 2005 Bouchard Père et Fils Montrachet. They sold for $2,100!
All-in-all, it was an absolutely lovely evening. Congrats to all the fine wine winners, hope you enjoy your wine! I do hope that the COC was able to surpass last year’s fundraising total If you were not able to attend, make sure to mark your calendars for next year. Click here for more information on the event and on the COC.