Saturday, May 28, 2011

American Oenophiles: The Obamas Serve California Wines At Return State Dinner

At London dinner, President & First Lady uphold White House tradition of exclusively pouring American wines: Iron Horse, Stag's Leap, and Kistler Vineyards chosen to honor The Queen...
The White House didn't specify the wines that were decanted for President Obama and First Lady Obama's small and intimate Return State Dinner held in honor of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on Wednesday evening at Winfield House in London. But Joy Sterling, CEO of Iron Horse Vineyards, alerted ObFo late on Friday that a wine from her family's vineyard in the Green Valley in Sonoma County, CA, was featured on the three-course menu for the black-tie affair. The two other wines served were from the Golden State, too. The glittering guest list included J.K. Rowling, Tom Hanks, Colin Firth, and David Beckham. (Above: The dinner menu; inset is the Obamas greeting Her Majesty as she arrives at dinner)

Sterling's wine, Iron Horse Russian River Cuvée 2005, was paired with dessert, a "Classic Pecan Pie" served with Brandy Ice Cream.  It's a sparkling wine, with a pale hue and the undertones of cream and apples. 

"We couldn't be more pleased and proud," Sterling wrote in her e-mail.

Kistler Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay 2006 accompanied the first course, Lobster Ravioli. The vineyard is in Carneros, CA. The Stag's Leap "Fay" Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 that accompanied the main course, griddled Filet of Aged Highlands Beef and vegetable sides, is made in Napa Valley, CA.  All three wines have received top marks from those who rate wines.

Only American wines are poured at White House functions, a practice that began during the Johnson administration, and which the Obamas have continued without exception for public events. But that doesn't necessarily mean the tradition will be continued if the President and First Lady entertain while abroad, and it's nice to know that it is. Mrs. Obama's attire for the evening honored another kind of American talent: She wore a floor length black gown with a silk bodice and crepe skirt, designed by Ralph Lauren.

After the very small but star-studded dinner, Her Majesty signed the Distinguished Visitor's Book. The evening was the capper to two days of events, which also included the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace in the President's honor, his first address to Parliament, and a barbecue at 10 Downing Street with Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha. They also attended the Return State Dinner. (Above: The President holds open the guest book as he Her Majesty signs)

The full menu:

President Obama's Return State Dinner Menu

Lobster Ravioli
Norfolk Samphire

Wine: Kistler Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay 2006 (Carneros, CA)

Griddled Filet of Aged Highlands Beef
Red Wine jus
Crushed Jersey Royals with Rosemary
Asparagus and Minted Broad Beans

Wine: Stag's Leap "Fay" Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (Napa Valley, CA)

Classic Pecan Pie
Brandy Ice Cream

Wine: Iron Horse Russian River Cuvée 2005 (Green Valley, Sonoma County, CA)

*Menu from Joy Sterling, with thanks; AP photo