Three California wines with a Mexican heritage were on the White House State Dinner menu yesterday honoring President Felipe Calderon of Mexico.
Ulises Valdez Vineyard’s 2007 Chardonnay accompanied the first course of jicama with orange, grapefruit and pineapple, created by guest chef Rick Bayless.
“The White House wine steward called a month ago and said they were interested in serving our Chardonnay at the dinner,” said Adelina Valdez, co-owner of Valdez Family Vineyard in Sonoma County. “So, we sent a bottle of the Chardonnay and they liked it and ordered five cases.”
The Chardonnay, which retails for $50, is clean, buttery and was a comfortable fit with the citrus salad.
For the second course the chef chose a 2006 Herrera Cabernet Sauvignon from Mi Sueno Winery in Napa to go with a ceviche and beef in Oaxaca black mole with grilled green beans.
“This is the third time our wines have been served at the White House,” said sales director Tom Bracamontes. “The first time (2001) a person left a message asking Ronald Herrera, the owner of the winery, to call the White House. The caller did not mention the reason for the call therefore Herrera was nervous when he returned the call.”
The White House staffer convinced Herrera that his number was not a misdial; they were interested in his wines.
About two weeks ago the White House wine steward called to inquire about wines so Herrera sent the entire portfolio and tucked in one bottle of the Herrera Cabernet (only 100 cases were produced) as an afterthought. The White House was pretty tight-lipped about reason for the inquiry. The winery was not given a specific date (just sometime in May) or the name of the event.
“That (Herrera reserve) was the wine they wanted,” Bracamontes said. “They have access to wines from around the world and they must have been impressed with the quality and the pairing of the cuisine. They ordered four cases and we gave them a special price.”
The Herrera label Cabernet retails for $125.
The dessert was a sweet symphony of homemade marshmallows, graham cracker crumble and goat cheese ice cream paired with Mumm Napa Santana Brut ($35).
“Daniel Shanks, the White House wine director, called last month and said he was putting together a menu for a large event and was struggling with a dessert wine,” said Christee Buell with Mumm Napa. “He was familiar with the partnership we have with musician Carlos Santana, who chose the wine style, and the Milagro Foundation that supports underprivileged children around the world.”
Valdez, Herrera and Santana have their roots in Mexico and came to California to pursue their dreams. The wines represented brought both sides of their history and heritage together.