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Drinking local at the White House dinner

It wasn't just local foods that were celebrated last night at President Obama's first state dinner. The menu also featured a Virginia wine. 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.

Sparkly from Thibaut-Janisson.

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 White House 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, a biodynamic wine and a great example of what Oregon's Willamette Valley can accomplish with Riesling; and the 2007 Beckmen Vineyards Grenache from California's Santa Ynez Valley.

Diners had a choice of entree with the Beckmen grenache -- either roasted potato dumplings with tomato chutney, chickpeas and okra (the prime minister is vegetarian) or green curry prawns, caramelized salsify with smoked collard greens and coconut basmati rice. That last pairing, the curry prawns with a high-alcohol California red, is already raising eyebrows among the vino blognoscenti. Indeed, I've rarely found a red wine that plays well with shellfish; something in the crustaceans seems to turn red wine harshly medicinal. Perhaps wine-savvy guests were able to read the menu and save some of their Brooks Riesling from the soup course, or just go with the flow and stay veg.

If you were there and have opinions about the match-ups, please weigh in.

-- Dave McIntyre

By The Food Section  |  November 25, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Wine  | Tags: Dave McIntyre, White House state dinner, local wine, wine  
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Yeah Virginia wines!

Few know that there are 143 vineyards in Virginia, producing award winning wines of all types.

Good for the Obamas for touting American wine.

Posted by: mjambrosino | November 25, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Sounds great. We'll have to get a bottle for our sushi-and-sparkling New Year's Eve. For my dessert, I tend to prefer Barboursville's Phileo. Sweet, but not overpowering.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | November 25, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Fantastic news! T-J sparkling is wonderful. And this is at least the second time that it has been served at the White House. The Bushes served it to commemorate Thomas Jefferson's 400th birthday two years ago. Congratulations to Claude, born and educated in Champagne, but dedicated to showing the world the quality that can be produced from Virginia fruit!

Posted by: Scott_in_Shaw | November 26, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

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