Opinion, Rants, and Stories

The Zuma Obama Dinner Wine List [UPDATED]

Obama Attends Luncheon At UN

UPDATE: As I thought, by trawling twitter over the weekend I managed to find out which wines were served at  President Zuma and Obama’s official dinner. I’ll leave the original post below.

It turns out the wines were not every exciting, and I would have far preferred to have drunk from my selection. According to Christiaan Smit  the Presidents drank:

 Graham Beck MCC Brut

 Knorhoek Chenin Blanc 2010 

 Zandvliet Cab Sauv Shiraz 2002

It’s as safe a wine selection as you could hope. Safe and very very boring. If anything it gave Barack a good idea of what it’s like to eat out in SA. No extreme wines here. All straight down the middle. The Obamas are partial to a little MCC from Graham Beck so that was an obvious choice. Good to see some Chenin in there, although it’s not clear whether it was the unoaked or barrel fermented version. The barrel ferment version is quite a monster with oak, butter and a whack of RS. I hope the Zandvliet was in OK nick as even the producers website recommends only keeping it until 2008.

All in all, a rather average wine list, but at least we can be thankful there was no Champagne on the list.

[Original Post]

I haven’t yet come across any article or post outlining what wines are served at dinners between our President and travelling foreign dignitaries. I wonder if this is perhaps out of some faux-modesty on the part of our government, or simply that no one really gives a toss.In the US it is something of a sport between the bloggers. Each one trying to guess which wines the White House will serve to foreign heads of state. Having found out they  critique or celebrate the wines as bloggers are want to do. 

I have tried this morning to find out what is on the menu at Saturday night’s official dinner where President Zuma will host the POTUS. Those in various government offices who I spoke to were rather surprised by the question, but could not help me, and others said the information about state dinners is not disclosed. But with the other pressing affairs of state – Madiba’s health and Obama’s landing – most of the calls were simply not answered.

In the US  there was a tradition of disclosing state dinner menus and wine lists after the fact. However, after, Obama’s government served a 2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon that originally sold for $115 (a 100 Parker point wine, which now sells for $300 plus) to Chinese president Hu Jintao a hullabaloo that followed – how in a time of economic woes can a president be so lavish –  and as a result the government no longer officially discloses its wines.

I will continue to try and find the wines that are served at the President’s dinner with Obama, and I am sure by Sunday they will be far easier to name. Until then here’s what I would put on the list

Aperitif: Graham Beck Brut Zero

Everyone knows that Barack loves his bubbles. The story of the First Lady and himself sipping on the Graham Beck Brut NV before his first inauguration speech in 2009 is stuff of SA wine legend. I’d serve the Brut Zero because it’s my favourite of the range – apart from the Cuvee Clive which is a little too big for an Aperitif

Starter: Cape Point Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc

Let’s be honest here, as much as we can do value wines, there are plenty of perfectly drinkable Sauvignon Blancs for R60, let’s serve the US president the best. Cape Point Vineyards is up there with the best in the world, and it covers the Southern Peninsula vineyards.

Fish Course: Chenin Blanc: Stellenrust Chenin Blanc 2012 and Mrs Kirsten Chenin Blanc 2012

It’s not all fancy pants expensive wine at Harry’s presidential dinner. Despite our ability to create truly fine wines from Chenin Blanc, we also make some of the best value wines around with the grape. This wine, for a mere 40 Randelas, shows off how clean, fresh and fruity and pleasing Chenin can be. And also that our President can – when he wants to – be economical. But if the President had the budget and wanted to show off Chenin Blanc and very very old vines, he could try and get hold of a bottle of Eben Sadie’s Mrs Kirsten, a Chenin Blanc made from nearly 100 year old bush vines.

Meat Course: Mullineux Syrah 2011 and Columella 2004

The Swartland has proved itself a damn exciting region for South Africa over the last decade, and we should be proud of the wines coming out of there. These two wines represent a snapshot of the recent history there, and how our wines can develop.

Dessert: Boplaas 1997 Cape Tawny and Klein Constantia Vin De Constance 2007

I guess we have to have the Vin De Constance in the mix here, and the 2007 is excellent. I love Boplaas’s 1997 tawny and it highlights the breadth of South African’s wine expertise.

Brandy: Van Ryn’s 12 year old

Because, Van Ryn’s 12 year old! A beautiful, complex brandy over which all world affairs could be solved.

Not a bad dinner, and I think we hit most of the bases. Stellenbosch red wines wont be happy with the selection. But I’ve kept it a very simple dinner. If the courses got more extravagant I’d have added some red blends from Stellies, and possibly a real oldie from the 70’s.

I wonder how far from my list the wines will be on Saturday night. Let’s all pray the ANC doesn’t serve their favourite tipple – Moët & Chandon – because that would just be embarrassing.

What would you serve to Presidnt Obama to give him an idea of the brilliant wines we produce in South Africa?


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