It was an American affair—a specially constructed facade of the White House as the backdrop; a menu meant to evoke the taste of America; the presence of guests who are American or have sojourned at fair Columbia.
Organised by Beaulieu Vineyard, guests were treated to a dinner pairing of the plantation's spirited offering at private-members’ club 1880. Sam Stephens, vineyard's Brand Ambassador, held court, as he took us through the history of Beaulieu Vineyard.
Watch the video below for a recap of our ‘White House State Dinner’—guests' favourite Christmas traditions—held at 1880.
As the story goes, Georges de Latour (not to be confused with the artist, Georges de La Tour), moved from France to California and bought land in Rutherford in Napa Valley. When his wife set eyes on the land that would become the cornerstone of their legacy, she uttered "beau lieu", which is French for "beautiful place". De Latour would purchase 127 acres more land in Rutherford and established Beaulieu Vineyard.
The growth of the company wouldn't be without its hurdles—in 1920, prohibition was enacted and while the Volstead Act was a death sentence for the alcohol industry, Beaulieu Vineyard continued thriving due to its contract to provide sacramental wines to the Catholic Church.
Beaulieu Vineyard was instrumental in shaping Napa Valley and even won over its hardened detractors: the French critics with its Cabernet Sauvignon. They were the go-to wine that's served in the White House for over 60 years, enjoyed by past POTUS like Barack Obama, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan (visiting dignitary, Queen Elizabeth, has also sampled the vintage). And the vineyard even garnered a score of 99 from Robert Parker Wine Advocate for its BV Rarity.
Over a dinner filled with conversation and sharing, guests remarked about the times in America that they had spent in and about the vintages that were poured readily into their glass. Stephens was a gracious host as he introduced the following vintages that were chosen to be paired with the meals.
BV Prestige Chardonnay 2016
This was the drink that started the evening. It's a white wine with an inviting aroma of citrus, pear blossoms and ginger. Full-bodied, this white wine is layered with lemon, apple, sweet nuttiness and spice; it's a complex drink that slowly unfurls with every sip.
BV Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Up next is the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015. Beaulieu Vineyard's diverse soils and microclimates contribute to the red's complex profile. It's an intense vintage with opulent layers of blackberry, black cherry and plum. The wine is like an open hug for your palate with cinnamon and caramel from the toasted oak barrels and culminates in a mocha finish.
BV Reserve Tapestry Red Blend 2014
What does the blend of five Bordeaux-heritage grape varieties add up to? The Beaulieu Vineyard's 2014 Reserve Tapestry Red Blend. With the Cabernet Sauvignon that offers a generous black currant, dark cherry and cassis; Merlot for its bright, fruit personality and Malbec for its burgeoning plum and blackberry notes. The Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot round up this expressive blend with subtleties of violet and dried herbs.
BV Private Reserve Georges de Latour Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
While the dessert (American apple pie) signals the end of dinner, the Beaulieu Vineyard Private Reserve Georges de Latour Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 is the perfect conclusion to the evening. This is 2015 vintage is manufactured with small yield berries with a mighty bouquet of berry fruit notes.
Grapes were hand-selected and aged in new French oak barrels. The wine is full-bodied with plush tannins that buoyed the palate: blackcurrant, bright raspberry, dark cherry and cassis give way to cedar, cinnamon, clove and mocha. It's recommended that for a heightened aroma and linger on the tongue, it should be bottle-aged for five years. If you don't have the luxury of time, then a simple decant before serving will do.
Beaulieu Vineyard is available at Lawry's The Prime Rib, Morton's The Steakhouse, Southbridge Hotel Whiskey Bar and as well as online at The Cellar.