Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
When it comes to Presidents and wine, there’s pretty much one name floating around out there: Thomas Jefferson.
Sure, Reagan enjoyed Beaulieu Vineyards' Private Reserve Cabernet, and Nixon was a fan of first-growth Bordeaux (and, somewhat surprisingly, Riesling from the Mosel’s Bernkasteler Doctor vineyard), but Jefferson put them all to shame. He made a number of attempts to grow grapes and make wine at his Monticello estate; during the five years he served as U.S. Minister to France, he undertook at least two lengthy tours of French, Italian and German wine regions; he had wine shipped to him in the U.S. from many of Europe's greatest estates; and he built a subterranean wine cellar for himself, complete with iron-barred, fortified, double-locked door (no one was getting their greedy hands on ol' Thomas J's private stash).
So what did Jefferson drink? A lot of things: Madeira, Port, Sauternes, Bordeaux (he was particularly fond of Château Haut-Brion), Champagne, Hermitage, Rhine and Mosel Riesling, Sherry, Tuscan reds, Volnay and Montrachets from Burgundy, you name it.
In any case, here are a few wines from some of his favorite regions; drink a glass or two, then write yourself a Declaration of Independence. Always a great thing to do with a spare evening.
Haut-Brion will set you back a pretty penny—about $900 a bottle for the ’09 vintage. But its owners also make a much more affordable yet quite good Bordeaux red, called Clarendelle; firm and lightly earthy, it runs about $20 for the ’05 vintage, which is still in stores. For about the same price, and from roughly the same area as Haut-Brion, the 2009 Chateau Haut-Vigneau is worth seeking out; for ten dollars more, Chateau Haut-Bergey’s 2006 and 2009 vintage are both terrific.
Champagne is pricey by nature, but there are some great quality-for-the-money plays lurking in the world of ‘grower’ Champagnes (also referred to as ‘farmer fizz’). These are small estates that produce their own wines, rather than selling off their grapes to the bigger houses like Clicquot, say, or Moët. A few names to look for are Milan, Barnaut (particularly the Blanc de Noirs), Camille Saves, Rene Geoffroy, Paul Goerg, and Gimonnet.
A broad category: Tuscany produces over 50 million gallons of wine per year. Amongst all of that, there are some super values to be had. Capezzana’s Barco Reale bottling, from the Carmignano zone, is bright with cherry fruit and spice, and can usually be found for under $15. The basic Chianti from La Maialina is about $10, and is a berry-bright steal. And Monte Antico, in which the local Tuscan grape Sangiovese gets a bit more oomph from small percentages of Merlot and Cabernet, is a perennial value, about $12, give or take.
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Sorry, but this article doesn't even mention Madeira. This was a favorite.
Sure it did. Paragraph 3, second sentence.
The article does mention Madeira. First, actually.
What they said. There is no presidential wine without Madeira. So it got mentioned. Way up top.
I see you got your Internet Glasses on. Side effects include wanting to point out a mistake so bad that you make a huge blunder yourself instead. LOL
How (and why) do you guys dig up these old threads?
Keeps them looking busy to the boss. LOL. Like when I'm typing here, looks like I'm working.
Did you ever notice that tea party patriots still like to build their own stills and make moonshine? Drinking out of a mason jar is a time honored tradition for those people. Especially south of the Mason-Dixon line.
Please killeth thyself forthwith.
Did you ever notice how morons like you smoke pot and lower their IQ...permanently.
There he is. Wondered where he went.
People did a lot of drinking in the 19th century. Much more than we do now. Furthermore, pot was legal. Sort of makes you want to go back in time, doesn't it?
My favorite at present is Robert Mondavi's Cabernet Sauvignon as it is not as sweet as others and its subtle flavor makes it go well with most foods particularly ribeye steaks of which I have at least two per week!!!
How do you drink like a founding father? Drink a lot of everything. Are you guys hiring?
wow no desert wines
Nah. They're too hot & dry to write about.
Sauternes are desserts, so are, in some uses, Ports and Madeiras.
Times were different...wine and beer was a good thing, slavery was in effect, and there were also hot clothing and uncomfortable shoes. It is 2012 and we now do things the way we want and not like 230 years ago. Although, I like TJ's mindset when it comes to all wines deserving a taste or two.
CNN needs to stop spreading lies about our Christian, family valued, founding fathers drinking alcohol.
Doesn't matter that they were Christian or a founding father, drinking was part of everyday life during that time period. Neither one of those are deterrents from drinking alcohol. It was a business and a hobby to some during the found fathers era.
family values eh? are dozens of slaves part of your family too? I hope you were being sarcastic
I bet POTUS and Muchelle drink well on the tax payers dime
Michael: I bet you complained about your mother's milk too.
Not only are you a disgusting whiner but ignorant too: THE US PRESIDENT PAYS FOR ALL OF HIS OWN FOOD, DRY CLEANING, SNACKS, EVERYTHING. Google it if you dare, Michael.
It's one thing, michael, to waste bandwidth. It's another thing to do so in such an ill-considered, obnoxious way.
so what you think now stupid?
I wouldn't mind drinking like our founding fathers as long as it din't mean ending up plastered and laid out under a rough hewn table with a 300 lb. serving wench. That's where I draw the line.
Jefferson brewed his own BEER as well and promoted the idea of a government run brewery. This looks like a veiled attempt to foist wine as being something special when in fact it was simply one alcoholic beverage made at home by a president. George Washington had his own home brewery as well as did John Adams, etc. So hoist a glass of any of these fine drinks, but let's not make wine his unique beverage of choice. It was simply one among many.
If the Founding Fathers could have tasted the craft beers brewed now out in San Diego (especially the IPA's), they would have made San Diego our nation's capital.
Washington was also the nation's leading producer of whiskey at one time.
PBR me ASAP
They also smoked Pot... But thanks to Nixon and his lies... that won't happen anymore.
As opposed to Dem Presidents who run and claim to hate the war of drugs, then grow the DEA as soon as they are in office. Obama wont even answer the question when it was presented to him on a Q&A webcast.
Why does the price of wine tripple when it gets to Tn. stores?
realize that the Man's sole goal is your unhappiness
and just eat some pschedelic mushrooms
Because the bottles are three times as big?
Because you cant spell triple?
Shortly before the Founding Father became such, there was a piece written lamenting the demise of the two bottle-a-day man. The reference was to the fairly common practice of a man downing two bottles of spirits a day.
The title would sound better if it was: "Drink like Thomas Jefferson"
No wonder Jefferson died heavily in debt! Fortunately wine making has come a long, long way since his day and you can get perfectly drinkable, quality wines for a fraction of what his favorite wines would cost today.
2-Buck Chuck still wins!
Ah, yes. A fine bouquet. Impudent... yet bovine.
It is a shame the author forgot (or missed in his research) to mention the OTHER red Bordeaux that Jefferson loved: Chateau Rauzan Segla, a 2nd growth from Margaux which is much cheaper and rarely disappoints. Since the elevation of Mouton Rothschild to 1st growth status in 1973, it is the highest ranking 2nd growth, though it has been eclipsed by some so-called "super seconds." And, it has an even more affordable second wine called Segla that also provides a fine price-quality ratio.
What about American spirits like beer, cider, brandies and whiskey?
They don't hold a candle to a good Bordeaux!
Why would anyone drink wine when there is Beer and Whiskey?
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