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Obama ups the ante with awesome wine at Chinese state dinner

on 21/01/11 at 10:11 am


The current administration continues to prove how much more wine-friendly it is than the last. That became even more evident with last night’s state dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao.  The White House served three American superstars — a return to the heyday of the best U.S. wines being showcased for the world’s leaders.

Though White House usher Daniel Shanks, who serves as the president’s wine buyer, held the job under the Bush administration, it’s clear that Shanks has had a bit more latitude to get fabulous under the Obamas.

First came a 2008 DuMol Russian River Valley Chardonnay, offered with poached Maine lobster.  This Orinda-based label from Michael Verlander and Kerry Murphy has set a new benchmark for the powerful style of California Chardonnay, and the Russian River bottle comes from a mix of top sites in the appellation: several parcels of Dutton Ranch, plus about one-quarter from Charlie Heintz’s vineyard (a star in this year’s Top 100 Wines), the DuMol estate holding and Searby. It’s a classic Russian River expression, barrel fermented in 40 percent new oak.  Ambitious, of course, but certainly a great framing for the dish. And at around $53 per bottle, it’s a relatively affordable way to enjoy the designated Chardonnay of the geopolitical set.

For reds, there was the 2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. Followers of Parker scores are probably nodding right now, for the ’05 Quilceda, from Washington State’s Columbia Valley, followed in the tradition of Quilceda’s ’02 and ’03 in getting a perfect 100-point score from the Wine Advocate — still the only Washington wine to receive that honor. A mix of fruit from three of the state’s defining vineyards — Champoux, Klipsun and Tapteil — it is the very essence of powerful Washington Cabernet.

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