Obama’s gift to Berlusconi: new American wine in old floorboards

What could President Obama bring Prime Minster Berlusconi as a gift for the host of the G8 summit? Berlusconi, an affluent and powerful man, can already get pretty much whatever he wants delivered to him poolside, after all.

Obama chose to present him with something he might never have had before, a gift of American wine! Specifically, a wine from the Vermentino grape grown in North Carolina’s Yadkin Valley made by Raffaldini Vineyards.

See the video below where Thomas Salley of Raffaldini explains how State Department officials requested samples of the wine from this Italian American family. And how the wine will be presented in a wooden case using old flooring from the Oval Office. Reduce, reuse, recycle!

Also note the transcript provided by FOX 8 in High Point NC, which hilariously misquotes Salley as saying, “The Vermentino grape is Sardinia variety so it’s native the the island of sardine.”

UPDATE: Whoops, Obama gave the wine to the Italian President, Giorgio Napolitano NOT Prime Minister Berluscsoni. Berlusconi will have to bum a sip from him.

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16 Responses to “Obama’s gift to Berlusconi: new American wine in old floorboards”

  1. The “island of Sardine”? That must be wine the wine pairs so beautifully with fish…

    Nice that a Vermentino from NC was selected as the gift and will garner some exposure for a wine region unknown by most consumers. It would be like Sarkozy bringing along a bottle of Irouleguy Blanc for Berlusconi.

  2. Yes, props to NC! I would be curious to try the wine.

  3. Sounds fishy to me! Sharon

  4. Hi Dr. Vino,

    Thanks for the mention. We are indeed honored to have been a part of such a unique and special opportunity.

    The gift actually went to Italy’s president, Giorgio Napolitano, although the video shows Mr. Berlusconi. President Napolitano’s role is largely ceremonial, but important to the country nonetheless.


  5. Hi Thomas,

    Thanks for stopping by and congratulations on having your wine selected to represent America.

    Yes, I did notice that error earlier in the day and made an update to the post. I had placed it below the video so now moved it above so that others can see it more easily.

    Any tips on where people could find that 07 Vermentino if they wanted it? I see it is sold out on your winery’s web site.


  6. Dr. Vino,

    We sold out of 2007 Vermentino today. The 2008 vintage, that was included in the gift, will be released in early-to-mid August.


  7. From one Vermentino producer to another: congratulations! The Great Vermentino Conspiracy has made even greater inroads than I suspected!
    Steve Edmunds
    Edmunds St. John

  8. Thanks for this interesting news Tyler! I propose this news also in my Italian wine blog Vino al Vino
    the link is here:

  9. Congratulations, Thomas. That’s truly admirable to have your wine representing as a gift from American soil.

  10. Drink Local Wine! If it’s good enough for the Italians….

  11. Glad to see some NC wines getting some press. Tasted this three years ago in Blowing Rock and was very pleasantly surprised. Been buying it at Harris Teeter ever since.

  12. Congrats to Raffaldini!

    I’m curious to know what the other American wines were that were presented to President Napolitano as mentioned in the video. I can’t find any info online about it at all.

  13. Dr.TC/V–
    visited Raffaldini two years ago next month- I *think* I tasted & bought the ’06?

    ‘As for the Vermentino, its refreshing but light, lemon zest & citron notes made me wish I’d saved it to pair with some seafood after I got back home.’

    Not to toot my horn too loudly, here’s a direct link to my post on visiting the area…

  14. But did the Italians actually drink any of it? The whole floorboards thing would have turned me right off.

  15. In answer to your question Tim D., Obama also gave a bottle of Octagon 2005 from Barboursville Vineyards. This is a Bordeaux style red from the Virginia property owned by Gianni Zonin. Coincidentally, Berlusconi gave Obama and other heads of state (including Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel) a bottle Castello d’Albola Acciaiolo 2004, a supertuscan from Castello d’Albola, which is a Chianti classico estate also owned by Gianni Zonin. Octagon won a gold medal at the Monticello Winegrower’s Competition in 2007 and Acciaiolo was chosen as a symbol of excellence, having won Tre Bicchieri for the 2004 vintage. Gianni Zonin purchased Barboursville in 1976 and defied all advice to plant tobacco by planting vines instead. Today there are over 100 vineyards in the area. And he purchased Castello d’Albola in 1979, at a time when the “smart money” was not interested in Chianti. Sometimes it’s good to follow your own instincts.

    Benson Marketing Group is the PR agency representing the Zonin family and estates here in the US and we just wanted to share this fun connection with you all!

  16. Having recently reviewed the 08 vermentino, though we haven’t published it yet, I have to say it is a great wine. One of the best US white wines I have had and heads above most NC whites.

    The folks at Raffaldini are doing a good job, this is one worth seeking out.


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