"Big" More Than a State of Mind When It Comes to White House Wine

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By Courtney Cochran

Admittedly, Daniel Shanks has an important job. He's the man, after all, who fields phone calls from the Oval Office about which Chardonnay to pour for Queen Elizabeth II (Newton Vineyard Unfiltered Chardonnay, since the winery's British founder was knighted by the queen) and which bubbly to uncork for French President Nicolas Sarkozy (NV Chandon Étoile rosé, since the Napa-based winery is owned by the French). And thanks to a recent report at Bloomberg.com by one Elin McCoy, we now know a whole lot more about the method behind Washington's number one wine man's maneuvering.
State of the Chardonnay
At a lunch and tasting in New York last week, McCoy prodded Shanks for the details on which wines pass muster for important White House affairs. The balding 59-year-old responded -guardedly and gamely, if such a thing is possible - that he selects exclusively American wines and that he is particularly fond of versions that highlight new directions in American winemaking. To wit, he chose a Biltmore Estate Chardonnay from Virginia for one of the First Lady's recent private luncheons, a selection that underscores his penchant for wines from emerging regions. Another common thread, he added, is that the wines must bold in aroma and flavor: "You need that," he insists, "for any wine to be noticed in the context of the White House experience.'' Note: wines of meager stature need not apply!

And, in a tidbit that came as a relief to me (and likely every taxpayer out there), Shanks added that he mostly eschews expensive wines out of deference to American taxpayers. At last, some good news from Washington amidst all this economic turmoil.

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3 Comments

Biltmore is from North Carolina although the juice is tanked in from California.

Love Daniel...met him years ago when he worked at Domaine Chandon ...glad to hear he's still making us all proud at the White House!

If you have a bottle left, diienftely include that in the lineup. It probably doesn't have enough acidity to stand up to all the dishes. But it could be a real treat. Thanks for the suggestion. I might just have to include a bottle in my lineup. Cheers!

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