Three wines, including one from the Napa Valley, were served at the Sept. 20 state dinner honoring Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife Jennifer.
A 2017 Spring Mountain Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc was paired with Sunchoke Ravioli with a Reggiano cream sauce and shaved, late-summer vegetables.
Dermot Whelan, vice president of sales and marketing for SMV, called the pairing “mouth watering.” The 2017 Bordeau-style Sauvignon Blanc was made with 95 percent mountain-grown Sauvignon Blanc grapes and 5 percent mountain-grown Semillon. The winery has been making Sauvignon Blanc since 1993, shortly after Don Yannias bought the 845-acre estate in 1992.
The Sunchoke Ravioli was the first course. The second was Dover Sole with a Fennel Mousseline sauce and Zucchini Squash Blossoms. Whelan said the Dover Sole is traditionally paired with another white wine, but the White House’s executive chef paired with a 2016 Argyle Reserve Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley. The dessert course was a Lady Apple Tart with ice cream spiked with Calvados Apple Brandy. The wine pairing? A non-vintage Demi-Sec sparkling wine from Sonoma’s J Vineyards & Winery.
The Spring Mountain Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc was served at only the second state dinner thrown by President Donald Trump.
Interestingly enough, each of the wines had to be connected to Australia, to honor the Prime Minister.
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Whelan said the Argyle Pinot Noir was chosen since the Oregon winery’s founder was Australian Brian Croser. Searching the J Vineyards’ website, the connection to the Demi-Sec is winemaker Nicole Hitchcock, who spent a harvest season in 2004 at Houghton Winery in Nannup in Western Australia.
The connection to the Spring Mountain Vineyards’ Sauvignon Blanc also includes its winemaker, Barrett Anderson, who earned a graduate degree in Oenology and Viticulture from the University of Adelaide in Waite in South Australia. Curiously enough, though, Anderson was hired about a month before the dinner was held, so Whelan said, “There was literally only three or four weeks that they had to make the decision. The fact that we put his photo and bio up on the website literally happened at the same time they were making the pairing decision.”
SMV’s former winemaker, Justin Hirigoyen, is the person who made the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, but Whelan said he recently left to join Twomey to make Pinot Noir and to “run their entire Pinot program,” Whelan said.
It might have been that the White House staff knew of Napa Valley and Spring Mountain Vineyard , but there’s another connection, Whelan said. He said because of Yannias’ extensive connection in the business world, David Ryder, the 39th director of the U.S. Mint, and his family visited Spring Mountain Vineyard a few months ago. “Ron Rosenbrand and I hosted he and his wife and his daughter for the afternoon. They’re a lovely family, it was great to get to know them,” Whelan said.
On the morning of the state dinner, Whelan said he got an email from Ryder’s wife, Monie, with a photo saying, “I’m sure you’re aware, but your exceptional Sauvignon Blanc, the 2017 is paired for the first course for the state dinner this evening for the Australian prime minister.”
Whelan said he wasn’t aware, but he thought it was wonderful and he appreciated the email and the photograph. “We’re absolutely thrilled. One hundred percent,” he added.