Friday, May 21, 2010

The Wines Served at President Obama's State Dinner for Mexican President Calderon

Picture: President Obama with President Calderón of Mexico and Mrs. Margarita Zavala and the First Lady Michelle Obama.

Following the Obamas’ 1st State Dinner, in November 2009 for India’s Prime Minister, on May 19, the Obamas welcomed President Calderón of Mexico and Mrs. Margarita Zavala to the White House. A State Dinner in Washington DC is supposed to reflect the best of American cuisine. But as an immigrant country, what is American cuisine? This dinner clearly had a Mexican soul, both the food and in particular the 3 wines. Two of the wines are made by Mexican-born winemakers who worked their way up to become America’s best. The sparkler is a French-Mexican-American joint venture, with even some German blood in it.

The Guests

Lots of celebrities were there, including Beyonce (who performed), Eva Longoria Parker, Whoopi Goldberg and talk show host George Lopez. The rest of the guest list was a mix of the usual crowd: Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and other administration officials; members of Congress and various association types.

What Food and Wines did the First Couple Serve?

Jicama with oranges, grapefruit and pineapple citrus vinaigrette.
Wine: 2008 Ulises Valdez Chardonnay Russian River

Herb green ceviche of Hawaiian opah. Sesame-cilantro cracker.
Oregon Wagyu beef in Oaxacan black mole. Black bean tamalon and grilled green beans.
Wine: 2006 Herrera Cabernet Sauvignon Selección Rebecca

Chocolate-cajeta tart. Toasted homemade marshmallows. Graham cracker crumble and goat cheese ice cream.
Wine: NV Mumm Carlos Santana Brut Napa.

Chef Rick Bayless

Fittingly, award-winning chef-restaurateur, cookbook author, and television personality Rick Bayless from Chicago prepared the meal; he has done more than any other culinary star to introduce Americans to authentic Mexican cuisine and to establish Mexican cuisine in the US. The first couple are no strangers to Bayless' cuisine, having dined out on his cooking in their hometown.

The Wines

2008 Ulises Valdez Chardonnay Russian River

From a remote village in Mexico to the elite winemakers in Sonoma County - this is the story of Ulises Valdez. He was borne in the rural areas of Mexico, quit school after third grade, went to Mexico City at age 10 to work with an uncle selling clothing at a flea market, and then moved to the State of Sinaloa to cut sugarcane. In 1985, he crossed the American border and made his way to Sonoma County, joining older brother Nicolas Cornejo to toil in the vineyards.

This year marks 25 years in the vineyard business in America for Ulises, first as field worker, then as a partner in the vineyard management business, and now owner of his own, Valdez & Sons Vineyard Management and Valdez Family Winery. He is now 37 and American citizen.

Sourced from Valdez's Silver Eagle Vineyard in Sonoma's Russian River Valley, the wine was released after the dinner with a suggested retail price of $50.

2006 Herrera Cabernet Sauvignon Selección Rebecca

Like Valdez, Rolando Herrera comes from Michoacan in Mexico. He began as a dishwasher in a Napa restaurant and now owns the highly regarded Mi Sueno Winery in Napa Valley. "Mi sueno" means "My Dream." In between, over a span of more than 20 years, he worked at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, moved over to Chateau Potelle and, Vine Cliff Winery, and became Director of Winemaking at Paul Hobbs Consulting.

The Seleccion Rebecaa, named after Herrera's daughter, is produced in very limited quantities, 100 cases, and sells for $125 a bottle.

NV Mumm Carlos Santana Brut Napa

The third wine is a Mumm Napa – not Mumm France – sparkler, which is produced by Mumm Napa in collaboration with Grammy Award-winning, Mexico-born rock super star Carlos Santana. It sells for $35. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Milagro Foun¬dation, Santana’s organization for underrepresented and underprivileged children around the world.

Santana Brut is the second collaboration between Santana and winemaker Dervin from Mumm Napa. Santana Brut contains only Napa Valley fruit. It is a classic blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Established in 1979, Mumm Napa is a partnership between France's Mumm Champagne family and American bourbon moguls Seagram & Sons. The Mumm family, whose lineage boasts barons and knights, can be traced back to the 12th century. In 1761, the German Peter Arnold Mumm started a wine production and distribution business in Cologne, Germany. Thanks to the good relations between France and Germany at the beginning of the 19th century, Peter Arnold Mumm’s three sons, Jacobus, Gottlieb and Phillip, were able to establish a Champagne house in Rheims in 1827 and the success story of Mumm Champagne began.

Schiller Wine - Related Postings

Wine event: The Wines at the 2009 Nobel Peace Price Banquet in Honor of President Obama.

Wine Event: The Wines served at President's Obama State Dinner of the Indian Prime Minister

Wine Event: Wines served at the 2009 Nobel Prize Banquet in Stockholm

Wine Event: President Obama and the First Lady eat at the "Green" Restaurant Nora and have a "Green" Spottswoode Wine

Benzinger Wines Served at the "Green" 2010 White House Correspondents Dinner


  1. Sounds like a perfect setting, all of it. I'd love to try the wines. Michelle looks gorgeous.

  2. Thank you for the publicity and nice comments. If you are ever in Napa please be sure to look us up.