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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Thursday, January 22 2009. 10:45

California Wines for Obama Inaugural Lunch

At the official post- inaugural lunch in the Capitol building, President Barack Obama was toasted with three Californian wines which are reasonably priced, making the wine industry hope that his presidency will help promote wine drinking culture in the country.

Duckhorn Vineyards 2007 ($25), Sauvignon Blanc, Goldeneye 2005 Pinot Noir ($52)  and Korbel Special cuvee sparkling wine NV ( $14 for a regular Brut)  as a dessert wine adorned the luncheon table.

The lunch was attended by 237 guests that included former Presidents Bush, Carter, Clinton and Bush, as well as Supreme Court judges, members of the Congress, senior Cabinet officials and several  political and government honchos.

Seafood stew topped with puff pastry had Sauvignon from the Napa Valley on the side while the Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley, also from the house of famous Duckhorn  pared well with the 'brace of pheasant and duck served with sour cherry chutney and molasses sweet potatoes.' 

Korbel Natural 'Special Inaugural Cuvée' , the off-dry bubbly from the Russian River Valley was paired with the dessert, apple cinnamon sponge cake and sweet cream glacé. Korbel has been making sparkling wine for 120 years (and still defiantly calling it Champagne!), using the traditional method of second fermentation in the bottle. It has been popped at the previous five presidential inaugurations and was the preferred bubbly during Kennedy's years at the White House.

While the former occupant, President George Bush was a teetotaller , Obama is a known  moderate wine drinker and reportedly has a glass or two of wine daily with food. The selection of wine suggests that   at the formal White House dinners, only American wines will be served. Although the lunch had only Californian wines in the Wine List, vintners from other producing states hope that they would have an opportunity to showcase their wines as well.

President Lyndon Johnson started the practice of serving only American wines  at White House state dinners and the practise continues, although President Richard Nixon reportedly had a passion for French wines and occasionally drank Chateau Margaux secretly. Kennedys were also Francophiles.

Unlike the Queen' s wine cellars at the Buckingham Palace which stores wine reportedly  worth about  £ 2 million, there is no formal wine cellar at the White House.   A small team selects the wines which are pared with the dishes depending upon the political and social profiles of the guests and are purchased, or even sponsored on occasions on an individual event basis.

Obama has a 1000 bottle wine cellar in his million-plus dollar mansion in Chicago but no one knows his collection so far.



Posted By : Subhash Arora

January 23, 2009 16:26

This is a diktat by EU and the most nations internationally, have been following it. I believe CIVC Champagne has been taking legal action against several producers-they would have the latest status. Try telling Korbel to export their 'Champagne' to the EU countries. No doubt Schramsberg, Korbel, Domaine Chandon make some great value-for-money high quality bubbly but they are sparkling wines, nevertheless, like similar French wines from outside Champagne. Incidentally, the term Methode Champenoise can be used for the process in this region only. I think this too is incorrect terminology for Korbel to use.It would be great to get their comments.

Korbel uses the term Champagne utilizing a loophole in U.S. law called 'semi-generic' which the Wikipedia defines as referring to a 'specific type of wine designation. The majority of these were originally based on the names of well-known European wine-producing regions. Consumers didn't recognize grape varieties at that time and New World producers used the familiar names to suggest the style of wine they were offering for sale. U.S. regulations require that semi-generic names, for example, California Champagne, may be used on a wine label only if there appears next to such name the appellation of "the actual place of origin" in order to prevent any possible consumer confusion.'

Mercifully, over the past thirty years, with the popularity of varietal labeling and the need to protect American AVA system, semi-generic names have largely fallen out of fashion. They are typically used for inexpensive jug and box wines and even most of those wines now use the more popular varietal labeling.

We know California churns out cheap wines like 'Burgundy, Chianti, Chablis, Tokay' and similar names used for quality products in Europe, which are not legal outside the US. I wonder how you would react if some obscure winery in Maharashtra started producing 'Napa wines' or a 'Walla Walla' red wine. Anyway, thanks for your comments and Cheers!


Posted By : Joe Blow

January 23, 2009 12:34

As far as I know I live in the United States of America and there is no law saying Korbel can't be called Champagne.


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