Wine diplomacy: UK tasters diss wine, then pour it for Obama

The BBC has a story out on the UK Government’s wine cellar, valued at about $5 million. Needless to say, it puts the dinky White House collection to shame. (Check out the slideshow from the London vaults.)

One item that grabbed some attention in the vinosphere is that they served Obama a wine their tasters had described as “soapy” at his last state dinner at Buckingham Palace. In 2008, they wrote, “Slightly soapy odd palate – hope it comes round. Review in 2011.” Upon review in February 2011, they wrote, “Not soapy, but harsh acidity.” Then the wine was served at the May 2011 state dinner. The article does not note the feedback, if any, from the Palace.

So what was the nasty wine? Well, digging through our “Leaders and Liters” series, we can inform the vintelligentsia that it was the 2004 Domaine William Fevre, “Les Clos,” a grand cru site in Chablis. (Find this wine at retail.) You can check out a few critical reviews here, where the scores ranged from 92-96 points, and none of them used the word “soapy” or comments on the acidity in a negative way. In fact, they bandy around terms such as “star of this extraordinary line-up” at William Fevre, “show-stopping,” “suave,” “seamless,” with an “incredibly intense finish that reminded me more than a little of a great Corton-Charlemagne.” (Whew, that read like a Zagat tasting note.) Clearly premature oxidation is an issue with white burgs, but harsh acidity is not commonly a premox note.

So, what say you: should the White House be offended that they were served a wine their internal tasters panned? Or is the BBC trying to gin up some controversy since the wine has a pedigree and was well-reviewed? See the rest of the wines served at the state dinner. Pity we don’t have the tasting notes for the rest of the wines–would love to have seen how their tasters reviewed the 1990 Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Echezeaux or the ’63 port–such dogs!

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7 Responses to “Wine diplomacy: UK tasters diss wine, then pour it for Obama”

  1. Here is what was served for President Obama’s 2013 Inauguration on schiller-wine

  2. From what I understand, the Barack and Michelle are both really into wine. I wounder if Barack would send back a bottle of premox’d White Burgundy at Buckingham palace.

    Anyway, I hear this is President Obama’s favorite wine:


  3. If they really wanted to diss him they would have served English wine.

  4. I have two thoughts about this. One is, he also drank Bedell wine at the Inaugural dinner, and that stuff I have tasted. I thought he could do better. So yea, he needs another sommelier.

    My other thought, though, is that this country has a lot of people who feel financially stretched to the limit. Do they care what Obama drinks? Probably not. If the Queen, in her antiquated role, drinks better than our President, it just goes along with the disconnect between a crown and the people. But this country really doesn’t have voters who want a President that’s disconnected.

    Let him have his bad sommelier. Its better than bad political decisions…

  5. My concern here is with the original descriptor followed by the second descriptor. To this palate, soapy often means high pH. But the second descriptor talks of a once soapy wine suffering from high acidity.

    If I were in charge of that cellar, and my palate was the arbiter, whoever ran the cellar would have been run out of the cellar by now.

  6. If they are really into wine, I imagine that Obama and his wife have tasted lots of wonderful wines along with a number of not so good wines.

  7. […] Wine diplomacy: UK tasters diss wine, then pour it for Obama. […]


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