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Obama’s Last State Dinner – Analyzing Wines

October 18, 2016 15 comments

Today the President Obama and the First Lady will be hosting the last (presumably, according to all the notes in the press – but he still has another 2+ months in the office) State Dinner in honor of the Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi and his wife, Agnese Landini.

Yes, this is not typical for this blog to talk about the state dinners, but you know, I’m always curios about the food, and most importantly, the wines which the most powerful man on Earth chooses to serve at such grand events as State Dinners – not sure if the President of the United States personally decides on the wines, but I’m sure he can weight in on the decision.

As this State Dinner will be honoring an Italian PM, it is very appropriate that the food theme will be Italian. What is even more appropriate that Mario Batali, one of my absolute favorite Chefs, will be in charge of this dinner event, working together with the White House kitchen staff.

So far, the Eater provided the description of the event and it is the only web site which posted the dinner menu, including the wines. I took the liberty of copying the menu from the Eater’s web site, so here it is:

First Course

Sweet Potato Agnolotti with Butter and Sage

Wine: 2015 Patina Vermentino “Santa Ynez”

Salad Course

Warm Butternut Squash Salad with Frisee and Pecorino di New York

Wine: 2012 Villa Ragazzi Sangiovese “Napa”

Main Course

Beef Braciola Pinwheel with Horseradish Gremolata and Broccoli Rabe

Wine: 2014 Ridge Vineyards Zinfandel “East Bench”

Dessert

Green Apple Crostata with Thyme Caramel and Buttermilk Gelato

Petit Fours Display:
Sweet Corn Cream and Blackberry Cup
Concord Grape Bittersweet Chocolate Leaf
Orange Fig Slice
Pumpkin Cranberry Tart
Tiramisu

Food sounds very delicious, and I’m sure Mario Batali’s work will be flawless. Let’s talk wines now.

Palmina Vermentino 2015 Patina Vermentino “Santa Ynez” – well, to begin with, there is no wine under such name, or at least I was unable to find it. As with my grape explorations, I had to play a “wine sleuth” many times, so in this case, I can only make an assumption that we are talking about the Vermentino wine from Palmina Winery in Santa Barbara county:

2015 Palmina Vermentino “Santa Ynez” ($28?) – the winery doesn’t list 2015 as available vintage yet, and 2014 vintage of Vermentino is sold out. The 2014 vintage is listed on the web site at $28. Overall, Palmina seems to be specializing in Italian varietals, so this should be an interesting wine. Note that the only bottle image available on the web site was from 2013, so this is what I’m using here.

Villa Ragazi SangioveseNext wine comes from another California winery I never heard of – Villa Ragazzi. The web site modestly advertises Villa Ragazzi Sangiovese as the best Sangiovese produced in Napa Valley – may be it is, I will let those who tried it be the judge.

2012 Villa Ragazzi Sangiovese “Napa” ($36) – 2012 vintage is not available at the winery anymore, and according to wine-searcher, there is only one shop in US which offers it at $39. The winery offers 2013 vintage at $36 per bottle – with the total production of 112 cases, I can imagine that this wine is pretty hard to find anywhere.

Ridge ZinfandelThe last wine on the list comes from the one of the most iconic producers in the USA – Ridge Vineyards. Ridge Vineyards needs no introduction to the wine lovers, producing cult Cabernet Sauvignon wine called Monte Bello and the range of Zinfandel wines from the number of appellations in California, plus many other wines.

2014 Ridge Vineyards Zinfandel “East Bench” ($25 – $30) – 2014 is the current vintage of Ridge East Bench Zinfandel, so all the information is readily available on the winery web site. According to wine-searcher, this wine can be found in many shops, in the price range of $25 to $30.

There you are, my friends – 3 California wines, hand selected for the State Dinner. I’m curious if the sparkling wine will be served before the dinner, and what would be the choices of dessert wines/drinks, assuming those will be served as well – but at this point we can only speculate about those.

Have you had any of these wines? What do you think of the wines, both on their own and as a choice for the State Dinner event? What do you think of intended pairings? Cheers!

 

 

 

Casa Mono – Tapas Delight in New York City

March 19, 2012 2 comments

I always admired Mario Batali as an Iron Chef, and after visiting his flagship restaurant, Babbo in New York City, I fell in love with his cooking (tasting menu at Babbo is probably one of my biggest ever epicurean highlights). Thus when we decided to stop by Casa Mono for lunch after attending Michael Skurnik wine tasting (blog post to follow) in New York City, I was one happy camper.

Never mind 100+ wines we tasted right before, we had to have some wine with lunch, right? Casa Mono sports an excellent wine list, focused on Spanish wines as one could anticipate. After tasting lots of young, big and dense red wines, we wanted to drink wine which would be easy enough to drink, but still the one which would complement the variety of Tapas offerings. Our choice was 2001 Lopez de Heredia Vina Gravonia, a white Rioja wine. Rioja wines are some of my favorite overall, but additionally, I think white Rioja is some of the most amazing white wines when it comes to aging – I had 18 years old Vina Gravona which was fresh and beautiful (you can find notes here). This 11 years old wine, 2001 Vina Gravonia, was just perfect – medium body, good acidity and minerality, good amount of fruit without being fruit forward, with hints of eucalyptus and anise. Very well rounded wine which paired perfectly with variety of the tapas dishes we had.

So for the food, as usual, it would be mostly a photo report. We were absolutely delighted with all of our choices, so without long overdue, here is the happy report.

Duck Egg with Moyama was one of the first tapas to arrive. Chicken eggs are boring – this is what I want for my breakfast!

The next one was Mussels with Cava and Chorizo – perfect combination:

Sweetbreads with Fennel Al Mono – delicious and perfectly executed in the small bites format:

Cod Cheeks Pil Pil with Pickled Chiles – I almost forgot to take a picture. The texture and flavor profile of this dish – with garlic, savory broth and chiles, it was “more bread, please” kind of dish – not a drop of that delicious liquid can be lost!

Potatas Bravas in the perfect tangy sauce:

And the Skirt Steak with Onion Marmelada – meat perfectly done, and very tasty in combination with the caramelized onions:

Do you think we skipped the dessert? Ha, of course not! Here it is:

Deep Fried Bay Leaves with Burnt Vanilla Custard – who would’ve thought that you can deep fry a bay leaf??? But it was delicious, and paired perfectly with the custard:

And last but not least, Orange Infused Bread Pudding with Horchata Ice Cream – the orange infusion makes this bread pudding feel absolutely the lightest and literally effervescent:

This was a great food experience, and I can only conclude with the words of the Iron Chef show host – Thank you for the wonderful meal, Chef Mario Batali!

 
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