France's Macron Sips California Wine at White House State Dinner

Guest of honor French President Emmanuel Macron will be treated to an all-American menu featuring U.S. wines with a noteworthy French connection

France's Macron Sips California Wine at White House State Dinner
White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford (left) and executive pastry chef Susie Morrison presented the menu for the state dinner for French President Emmanuel Macron. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Dec 1, 2022

There’s at least one thing that President Joe Biden shares with his White House predecessor: Both commanders in chief (unlike most) are teetotalers. But that’s never stopped either of them from hosting an epic dinner party, and Biden and his staff are taking their first crack at an official White House state dinner tonight—hosting avowed wine lover and French President Emmanuel Macron.

“[Our first state dinner is] inspired by the shared colors of our flags—red, white and blue—and our common values—liberty and democracy, equality and fellowship,” said First Lady Jill Biden at a press preview for the dinner. "These form the bedrock upon which our enduring friendship was built.” (FLOTUS, readers will recall, is reportedly a fan of Tuscan wines.)

And the menu has the wine world abuzz, with an all-American selection paired with White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford’s menu and executive pastry chef Susie Morrison’s confections. (Do all the chefs in the executive branch carry the “executive” title? Food for thought …)

But let’s get to the good stuff: Tonight’s state dinner begins with butter-poached Maine lobster served with American osetra caviar, delicato squash raviolo and tarragon sauce, and paired with Newton Chardonnay Napa Valley Unfiltered 2018 (89 points, $55).

Hard to go wrong with butter-poached Maine lobster paired with Napa Chardonnay. What’s more—and here’s the scoop the mainstream media won’t tell you—Napa’s Newton winery recently celebrated its 40th anniversary and brand revival that was overseen by a Frenchman, Jean-Baptiste Rivail. He’s now the CEO of Oregon’s Ponzi Vineyards, which is now owned by France’s Bollinger family, but Rivail was Newton’s estate director when this 2018 Chardonnay was made. Really gives this lobster-Chardonnay pairing that extra je ne sais quoi, non?

 A place setting is seen during a media preview for the upcoming state dinner for French President Macron, at the White House on Nov. 30, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
Rented china will do for President Biden's first state dinner. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Up next: calotte of beef, with shallot marmalade, triple-cooked butter potatoes, sunchokes, creamed watercress and a red wine reduction, paired with Anakota Cabernet Sauvignon Knights Valley 2019 ($75). Is that Sonoma wine made by French folks? Mais oui! Anakota vigneron Pierre Seillan grew up in France and was making wine in Bordeaux when California’s Jess Jackson persuaded him to come make wine in Sonoma in the 1990s; Seillan is now joined in the Anakota cellar by his daughter, Hélène.

The boeuf course will be followed by an all-American fromage plate, including Oregon’s Rogue River Blue, California’s Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog and Wisconsin’s Dear Creek Cheddar. All perfect pairings with Roederer Estate Brut Rosé Anderson Valley NV (92, $36), the California sparkling wine producer founded by the owners of France’s Champagne Louis Roederer.

The grand finale is yet another all-American plate with a French accent: orange chiffon cake (not gâteau?!) with roasted pears, citrus sauce and crême fraiche ice cream. Bon appetit!

However, tonight’s festivities, held beneath a tent on the White House lawn, will be missing at least one standard state dinner staple: Just like our own, the official White House china isn’t allowed to go outside.

Opinion extra-extra France United States

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