Thursday, March 15, 2012

White House Wines: Embargo Broken

Well, that didn't take long. Despite Obama Administration efforts to keep secret the wines poured at last night's White House dinner for UK Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, we now can report that two of the four were Californian, while one each was from Virginia and Washington state. Whether this geographical diversity has more to do with smart electoral politics than smart culinary matchmaking is solely a matter of conjecture.

At any rate, thanks to the tasting notes of one guest at the dinner, Eric Levine, founder of the wine website CellarTracker, and Tyler Coleman, founder of the blog Dr. Vino, we know that the crisped halibut with potato crust was accompanied by the Peter Michael 2009 Sonoma County Knights Valley Ma Belle-Fille Chardonnay, while the bison Wellington was paired Leonetti Cellar 2008 Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The chardonnay sells for about $80, the cabernet sauvignon $65.

The other wines were the Thibaut-Janisson Brut from Virginia and the Iron Horse Vineyards 2007 Sonoma County Green Valley Russian Cuvee, the latter a particularly peculiar choice to accompany what sounds like an especially busy and rich dessert - steamed lemon pudding on Newton Pippin apples with a sauce of Idaho huckleberries.

For what Levine made of the pairings, visit Dr. Vino. In past administrations, the menu for state dinners at the White House specified the wine to be poured with each course. The Obama Administration, without explanation, has suspended that practice, perhaps because of the expense of some of the wines it has selected in these recessionary times, perhaps because of criticism over its occasionally unorthodox pairing of food and wine. Last night's menu, which goes into enlightening detail concerning the traditions and ingredients of the dishes, simply says of the wines: "An American wine will be paired with each course."

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