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Jan 14, 2009 07:42 AM

Change in 2009? The White House Wine Cellar

Just read an interesting article on Slate about the state of the Executive Wine Cellar under the last few administrations:

I would love to see some more diversity the the First Cellar, myself.
My favorite factoid from the piece is that, while the current collection is approximately 500 bottles, Thomas Jefferson had 20,000.

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      1. Oh, and page two gets even better with the suggestion of stocking foreign wines. Brilliant ! Maybe the Prius can be the official car of The Whitehouse as well.

        1. Folks, we've had to remove some overly political responses and want to remind everyone tha our focus here is chow, not politics. Please feel free to discuss the wines mentioned, what wines you'd suggest the White House stock, what types of wines should be served at diplomatic functions, etc. but please avoid making political statements about current or former presidents, or politics in general. Thanks.

          1. Considering President Bush's abstinence from alcohol, I can understand why the White House cellar might not be that large.

            I'd wager that for state dinners, wines are brought in for each event and not drawn from the cellar.

            Going back some years and an administration, President Clinton chose an Arizona red blend for the “official White House wine.” That was unique, and it was a good wine, not often found outside the state of AZ.

            Now, had I been elected President, I’d have come with a much larger cellar. It would have featured wines from many parts of the globe, but unfortunately would not have been representative of a few spots, some of which are “up-n-comers.”

            I do not know President-elect Obama’s tastes in wine, if he has any. It might be interesting to see how the White House cellar changes over the next few years.

            Also, we must remember that President Jefferson was one of the few oenophiles to occupy the White House. Most have been more along the lines of Bourbon & branch. This is unlike the cellars of the heads of state of many other countries.

            Does anyone know how President Bush, the elder, stocked the cellar? Last comments that I have read were for President Clinton, and the Callaghan Buena Suerte Cuvée.


            4 Replies
            1. re: Bill Hunt

              Some indication of Obama's tastes may be gleaned from the choice of wines at the inaugural dinner. I read that there will be 2 wines, both from Duckhorn. The white will be their Sauvignon Blanc, and the red will be their Goldeneye Pinot Noir. Don't know specific bottles. I got this from today's LA Times.

              1. re: vickib

                according to a chicago newspaper article, obama is supposedly fond of kendall-jackson chardonnay, which is now doing a push.

                i've met the white house wine director numerous times over the years. (interesting he has stayed through several administrations.) he was very polite about the lack of bush's interest in wine. however the selection of wines for dinners is generally his -- the president has more important things to decide, lol -- so just like any sommelier, he chooses wines to complement the meal.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  Thank you both for that insight. I am also a fan of Dan Duckhorn, so I have no quibbles there. I guess we need to expose him to some other Chards, both domestic and imported, but then one's taste is one's taste. Some years back, we were at a resort where the upper-end restaurants all had K-J Vintner's Reserve as their upper-level Chard. I complained. Near the end of the week, we dined in some of the lower-end restaurants. All of a sudden, I was wishing that they HAD K-J's VR Chard! BTW, what wine goes best with "crow?"

                  Now, I must say that I have enjoyed the K-J "Grand Reserve" Chard on many instances. I find these to differ more, vintage to vintage, and to be much more interesting wines. One just does not see these that often on wine lists. The retail price-points are not that far apart, but so many restaurants stop at the VR. While not a favorite of mine, it's still much better than many - and it IS consistant, year to year. Kinda' like a "house style" in a Tawny or Ruby Port.

                  Interesting about the White House Director of Wine. Thanks for sharing. For the last 8 years, it was probably a good thing that he/she was at the helm. I've been to too many dinners, where a non-wine drinking host chose the wines. Many were total disasters. Good to have an expert on hand for this. What an interesting job!


                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    Kudos to choosing Duckhorn. I haven't had the Goldeneye, but love the Merlots