The presidential inaugural luncheon is a tradition that dates back to 1867, but this year’s bipartisan breaking of bread between the United States Congress and Supreme Court will feature something entirely new – Long Island wine.
Bedell Cellars’ 2009 merlot, a lauded local wine, will be served with bison at the Jan. 21 luncheon, which will celebrate the new year and the beginning of President Barack Obama’s second term.
Bedell’s road from its Southold vineyard to the president’s palate began at New York Farm Day, according to winery CEO Trent Preszler.
“[It's] an annual event held in Washington D.C. featuring New York agricultural products,” Mr. Preszler said. “It’s all thanks to New York senior senator Charles Schumer (D – N.Y.) and Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation. We’ve been working on this for several months now and are proud to finally be able to share the news with the world.”
The CEO, who holds a doctorate in viticulture, said merlots are historically important to Bedell, but that 2009’s vintage is ideal for the traditional toast as a wine that’s “truly expressive of the New York winemaker.”
Founding winemaker Kip Bedell said the vintage is a “classic Long Island merlot” with “ripe tannins and a beautiful balance between fruit and acidity.” The quality of the wine, he said, speaks not only to the crop, but to a successful winemaking style.
“It’s got beautiful fruit characteristics, though 2009 wasn’t as hot as the following year,” he said. “In almost any given year, we can make pretty nice wine. Once the grapes get up to the winemaker, it’s about directing those grapes into the best wine you can make with them. If there’s not a great year with tons of color and tremendous acidity in the fruit, there are ways to make the wine balanced and drinkable, without, say, aging it in oak for a long time so it comes out tasting like a toothpick.”
Mr. Bedell said the 2009 merlot, which has netted Bedell Cellars numerous awards since its release, is a fine choice for the celebration and should make for a “delicious” pairing with the bison.
“Serving Long island’s own Bedell Cellars merlot at the Inaugural luncheon shines a spotlight on one of New York’s world-class wine industry,” Senator Schumer noted in a press release this week. “President Obama, Vice President Biden, members of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Cabinet will all get a taste of Long Island’s finest with the addition of Bedell Cellars. I’m pleased to be able to showcase a fantastic New York company, one of many wineries that strengthen our New York’s economy.”