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Wines fit for a president

The US press has been trawling over presidential wine stories in celebration of next week’s President’s Day on 16 February.

The leading presidential wine connoisseur was Thomas Jefferson followed at some distance by Richard Nixon.

Jefferson, founding father of American wine as well as America itself, honed his palate in France where he was US minister in the 1780s before returning to pioneer European grapes at his Monticello vineyard in Virginia.

Two centuries later Christie’s sold the first of the infamous Jefferson bottles for £105,000 in 1985 – a world-record auction price for a single bottle that stood for over twenty years. It was the subject of Benjamin Wallace’s ‘The Billionaire’s Vinegar

President Nixon was not quite in the same league as Jefferson, but he was keen on Bordeaux First Growths and Germany’s Bernkasteller Doktor.

On the wine site, Gregory Dal Piaz wrote: “Nixon economized by serving lesser wine to his guests while drinking, according to lore, Château Margaux from a napkin-covered bottle kept out of sight.” Before Nixon, JFK had a fondness for Château Haut Brion Blanc, while Dom Perignon Champagne was the Kennedy’s house wine according the The Wall Street Journal.

President Jimmy Carter dabbled in wine from grapes grown on his peanut farm in Georgia, and Ronald Regan enthusiastically embraced top Californian wines and swept Bordeaux from the White House. George W Bush renounced beer and Bourbon in favour of diet Coke when he turned forty, while Barack Obama told People magazine that Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay was a staple in his house. First Lady Michelle Obama is said to enjoy a glass of Graham Beck’s South African sparkler.

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