Kelly J. Hayes: Oregon wines poured at White House
The current news cycle is so volatile that it is often difficult to remember what happened yesterday. But just last week, the White House hosted the first State Dinner of the Trump administration for French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte. Remember? The hugs, handshakes and kisses that made all the news? And that was just the two Presidents.
Anyway, the folks on Pennsylvania Avenue faced a dilemma familiar to many of us when we host meals for friends: What to pour?
Start with the consideration that POTUS, the Commander in Chief, the host of the dinner, the man who was to make the toast, is a teetotaler. That’s right, the man does not drink. Not even wine. In fact, he has claimed that he has never had a drink, though there are a plethora of photos that would seem to indicate that that might not necessarily be accurate. In any event, selecting wines is easier if we know a bit about wines.
Next is the obvious question of whether The White House would simply pour wines from the winery that bears the name of the President. Donald Trump purchased a winery in Virginia at a foreclosure auction in 2011 and promptly put his name on it. He has said that he owns it (August 15, 2017… “I own actually one of the largest wineries in the United States, it’s in Charlottesville”), but according to a disclaimer on the Trump Winery website that might not necessarily be accurate.
And lest we forget, the White House was tasked with satisfying a pretty sophisticated crowd in this first State Dinner. You would expect the President of France has had the opportunity to taste, and pour, many of the world’s finest wines. And a working understanding of both Burgundy and Bordeaux would likely be part of his curriculum vitae. Not to mention that the billionaires invited included Rupert Murdoch, who has a small vineyard in Bel Air, and Bernard Arnault whose LVMH owns Château Cheval Blanc, Château d’Yquem and Dom Pérignon. It was a tough crowd.
So what to do?
Someone got it right. The selections included two wines from Oregon, a Domaine Serene Chardonnay “Evenstad Reserve” 2015, and a Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir “Laurène” 2014, along with a slightly sweet sparkling desert wine from California, the Schramsberg Demi-Sec Crémant 2014. All three were inspired choices. American wines with French ties that fit the bill perfectly.
Interestingly, the four top wine states in terms of production, California, Washington, New York and Oregon, were all blue states in the 2016 election. Coincidence? Perhaps.
And maybe, yet another challenge for the White House’s wine selection process.
Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be-designated appellation of Old Snowmass.