Yesterday I attended a vertical tasting of single vineyard, vintage ports from Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas. Adrian Bridge, managing director of Taylor-Fladgate, was in attendance in NYC and regaled our group with stories not only about the wines but also about how a local town’s population astonishingly dwindled from eight to three and how an enormous St. Bernard slashed a local realtor’s pride.
More details to come on the wines, the Quinta de Vargellas, and Adrian’s comments on specialty port.
But what grabbed my attention for immediate posting was the fact that they keep a guest book at the winery at Vargellas where visitors are requested to write a poem. I don’t know if these are impromptu poems or if they are told about this before lunch and then have to produce one after lunch–indeed, some of the poems seemed quite “lunch” influenced.
Most of the poems do not have the author’s name attributed in the brochure, but a few did. In the latest addition to our series “leaders and liters of wine,” consider this poem from a visit (during a war!) by the sitting Defense Secretary of the United States.
I’ve redacted his name and his wife’s for your guessing pleasure in the comments.
“From out of the sky they flew into Vargellas,
Richard Cheney, his party and Lynne.
But the hosts in Oporto forgot to tell us
the numbers we had to fit in.
Mais Cabirto called “Gilly,”
the hostess so cool,
as forty turned seventy three.
While the wine-hacks with training stood by at the pool
serving port to all they could see. “
After learning that the wine vote carried Obama to victory, it’s no surprise that wine writers can barely contain the corks from popping until next week.
John and Dottie dig up this vignette from the the White House Historical Association: “In 1840, the Whigs presented their candidate, William Henry Harrison, as a simple frontier Indian fighter, living in a log cabin and drinking cider, in sharp contrast to an aristocratic, Champagne-sipping Van Buren.” But then they say they don’t know what Obama will have after the inauguration.
Cue Elin McCoy. She’s got the intel on this one. And it ain’t all pretty. To the tape: “Fortunately for Barack Obama, the first wines he’ll sip as president include some pretty nice California bottlings, though one of them poses a foreign-relations test. At the inaugural congressional lunch at the Capitol, right after the swearing-in ceremony, the wines will include 2007 Duckhorn Vineyards sauvignon blanc ($30; find this wine) and 2005 Goldeneye pinot noir ($55; find this wine). Two hundred dignitaries will toast the new President with 15 magnums of Korbel Natural sparkling wine ($15; don’t find this wine). It’s labeled “California Champagne,” so better not show it to the French.” Korbel? Puh-lease. And how did Duckhorn hit a double (they also make Goldeneye; see the inaugural lunch menu at their site)?
Mike Steinberger pops off a piece on Slate bristling with his usual brio. He has his own version of financial stimulus and suggests expanding the paltry White House wine cellar, introducing mature wines as opposed to current releases, and flattering foreign dignitaries by re-introducing wines from their own lands (presumably as an aperitif). I’ll raise a Montelena to that.
What will you pop next Tuesday? UPDATE: Or, if you were in charge of the inauguration lunch, what would you pour for the 200 honored guests?
SIPPED: too much
As G-20 leaders met in Washington this weekend while the economic world burns, they sipped Shafer Hillside Select 2003, a $250 Napa cab (find this wine). This raised the hackles of bloggers at CNN (perhaps because they could only find it for $500?). The era of the teatotaler-in-chief is soon over! (Thanks, Arthur!)
SPIT: too little
An eagle eyed publicist at Kendall-Jackson spotted a mention of their Chardonnay in an interview the Obamas did with People magazine. The maker of this supermarket staple then sent “a few congratulatory cases of the brand” to the Obamas, care of the Democratic National Committee. Celebrate a historic victory such as his with a $12 chardonnay? But what did Shafer send them?
SPIT: Sauvignon blanc
NYT restaurant critic Frank Bruni goes public about his dislike of Sauvignon Blanc as he tasted one from California, “he offered a grimace and a cry of anguish.” And what did his colleagues do to him after that. Why, laugh at him. Get the full story and their wine picks for turkey day in Eric Asimov’s column.
SPIT: 2008 Hospice de Beaune
The climate, both meteorological and economic, put a damper on the annual charity auction for barrels of red Burgundy. [Reuters]
SPIT: celebrity wine
Michael Vick’s 22 dogs will appear on a new wine line called “Vicktory Dogs.” A portion of the proceeds benefit the shelter in Utah where the dogs now reside. [ESPN]
Last week we heard about the Palin syrah and because it’s organically grown in Chile, we knew it was the perfect wine for the veep wannabe, Sarah Paleen (as they say in Alaska, methinks). Check out reader Nate’s tasting note.
In anticipation of this Thursday’s debate (when we will need mucho vino), put your country first and decide which wine is best suited to each of the three other candidates! I already had my say during the primaries, so now it is your turn.
To sweeten the pot, I will be giving a away a signed copy of my book, Wine Politics: How Governments, Environmentalists, Mobsters, and Critics Influence the Wines We Drink, a book in which none of these four candidates is mentioned!
Post your pairings for the non-Alaskan candidates here in the comments. Friday after 3PM Eastern, check back to see the winner, selected at random. Everyone, to your snow machines!
SIPPED: Wine nationalism!
At the recent G8 Summit in the remote Hokkaido, wines from various of the countries (sorry, Russia and U.K.) were poured at the festivities, including: “Le Reve grand cru/La Seule Gloire champagne”; the Isojiman Junmai Daiginjo Nakadori sake; Louis Latour, Corton-Charlemagne 2005; Ridge California Monte Bello 1997 and Tokaji Esszencia 1999″ (Hungary–booyah! A non G8 country slips in.). The juxtaposition of the leaders’ banquets and global food shortages was not lost on The Independent. France won the vinous nationalism stakes with the most wines poured.
SPIT: Adolescent binge drinking!
France will debut it’s first ever anti binge drinking campaign on Friday. According to Decanter, it will run on TV, radio and in in movie theaters and “feature adolescents enjoying a ‘paradise-like universe’, which turns into a nightmare after they drink too much.” Whoa! Send in a clip if you see it.
SIPPED and SPIT: The St. Emilion classification!
Sweeping victory from the jaws of defeat (or, more likely, the other way around), the classification of St. Emilion producers that updates every ten years was thrown out by a judge last week–only to be reinstated on a temporary basis for three years by another authority later in the week. [Decanter]
SIPPED: summer all year!
Rosé surpasses white wine as the most popular in France. [Times.co.uk]
We know international summits are tough. They’ve been known to make a teetotaler go weak in the neck as recently as, oh, last year.
Now we have this photographic intel that the Teetotaler-in-Chief raised a glass with President Yushchenko in Kiev last week! The Dr. Vino cam only has this one angle, but it looks distinctly like the fruits of the vine that he his holding in the glass behind his goobery hand. My guess is that it beats fermented yak milk!
UPDATE: thanks to a comment from reader Mark, please feel free to “CAPTION THIS PHOTO!”
Eric Asimov of the NYT had a thoughtful article in Wednesday’s paper about exposing teenagers to wine in the home. It’s great to see a constructive discussion (325 comments long!) on his blog about fostering wine enjoyment in the home rather than the usual discussion of excesses. Related: we’ve discussed kids at wineries and how appropriate is the drinking age of 21 here. [NYT]
SIPPED and SPIT: NYC wine bars
Closing tonight is Divine Wine Bar East. Zagat reports they have having the Mother of All Happy Hours tonight to liquidate (ha) the inventory. Opening: Bowery Wine Company and the new wine lounge at Le Cirque. See the action on the NYC wine bar map!
SIPPED: The audacity of nope
French President Sarkozy, a self-proclaimed teetotaler (although see here and here for evidence to the contrary), has the nerve to ask to see the wine list at Windsor Palace before a state dinner. [Times of India]
“Researchers at the University of Rochester have shown for the first time that resveratrol, a natural antioxidant found in grape skins and red wine, helps to destroy cancerous pancreatic cells by crippling the diseased cells’ mitochondria, the minute organelles found in the majority of living cells which provide them with energy.” [FT.com]
Image: fair-use is made of a reduced size crop of an image that appeared in the NYT attributed to Lisa Adams.
Schramsberg is an iconic American sparkling wine and it’s no surprise that it as been poured at the White House over 100 times. Last week, I caught up with Hugh Davies on the phone to ask him about the experiences for this second installment of our two-part mini-series, Entertainer-in-Chief. Two instances stood out to me of serving Schramsberg at state events.
Hugh, 42, told me that in 1972, his dad, Jack, got word from the Nixon White House that they would need 13 cases of Schramsberg 1969 blanc de blanc. And those cases had to be delivered to Travis Air Force Base. Hugh said that it was all a bit mysterious but his dad loaded up the cases into his jeep, drove them over to the Base where he got paid and left the wine.
Then three weeks later, images of Nixon’s historic trip to China were broadcast back to the US. And there was good old Nixon raising a glass of Schramsberg with Premier Zhou En Lai in a “toast to peace.” Hugh said that Barbara Walters reported from Tiananmen Square that Nixon and Zhou had just toasted with the Schramsberg “blank de blank.” Thirteen cases must have kept the whole delegation happy!
In what would be a bookend to state dinners and Schramsberg during Hugh’s mom’s lifetime, the Schramsberg brut rose 2004 was served at the state dinner with Queen Elizabeth II in Washington last year. The Teetoaler-in-Chief did not call and there was no drop-off at an AFB. Instead, the head usher just ordered it through the local distributor and Hugh didn’t even know it was being served.