Virginia wine was featured last night at President Obama's first State Dinner. The president, his guest of honor, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and invited members of D.C.'s elite washed down pumpkin pie tart and pear tatin with Thibaut-Janisson blanc de chardonnay, from the Monticello district near Charlottesville.
Thibaut-Janisson is an up-and-coming specialist in fine sparkling wine. Winemaker Claude Thibaut is convinced that Virginia has the climate and terroir to produce excellent bubbly – and evidently the president agrees.
“Here's more evidence Virginia can produce top-notch fizz,” I wrote about this wine last year in my Thanksgiving recommendations in the Post. “Elegant and stylish, with palate-refreshing acidity and subtle fruit that emerges about an hour after opening.”
Other wines served at the dinner included the 2008 Modus Operandi Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley; the 2006 Brooks Winery Riesling “Ara” Vineyard from Oregon's Willamette Valley; and the 2007 Beckman Vineyards Grenache from California's Santa Ynez Valley. The dinner's menu is available on the White House Web site here.
I've always been a big fan of Brooks. The winery farms biodynamically and produces excellent Riesling - the Ara is its best - and Pinot Noir. I had the opportunity to visit the winery last summer during the International Pinot Noir Celebration, and enjoyed the 2006 Ara then. But if you want to taste what the White House guests enjoyed tonight, you'd better hurry - the winery has only a few cases left.
This caps a banner week for Regional Wine. Last week, I wrote in the Post that “the growth of local wineries throughout the country is transforming the American wine industry.” Yesterday, my buddy Jeff Siegel, aka “The Wine Curmudgeon,” offered more proof of the changing face of American wine. Jeff noted that Eric Asimov in The New York Times included a New York wine – Shinn Estate Merlot – in his Thanksgiving recommendations, while Boston Globe wine columnist Stephen Meuse praised Massachusetts Cabernet Franc, even if he didn’t include a specific recommendation for one.
“What's with these big deal wine writers suddenly hopping on the DrinkLocalWine.com bandwagon?” Jeff asked. Not that we're complaining!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Please comment here on what wines you'll be enjoying for the feast.