A Presidential Porterhouse: Obama, Flay, & Geyserville

The occasion was what is called, in proper politico parlance, a “working dinner.”

In this case, it was a Superpower rendition thereof: heading up the guest list? U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

And paired with the steak course? 2008 Ridge Vineyards Geyserville!


Ridge wines have gone some amazing places over the years, and been part of some remarkable moments.

Births, engagements, weddings, anniversaries, graduations, reunions, and more.

But this was something else altogether.

This was history with a capital H.


This was the brainchild of world-renowned chef Bobby Flay, and Jean Pierre Francois (GM and Beverage Director of the famed Mesa Grill in Las Vegas).

It was in fact Jean Pierre who proposed our 2008 Geyserville, and upon approval from both Bobby Flay and The State Department, it became the pairing of choice for the following from Chef:

Porterhouse of American Beef
Smoked Steak Sauce
New Potatoes with Blue Cheese
Meyer Lemon Honey and Whole Grain Mustard
Fava Beans and Asparagus


Bobby Flay himself joked recently on the Today Show about the experience; in a great photo by the great Pete Souza (Chief Official White House Photographer for President Obama, and Director of the White House photo office), Flay can be seen purportedly asking everyone how they want their steaks cooked!


This photo was taken by Pete Souza on June 7th, at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California.


Jean Pierre is a pretty amazing story. According to a wonderful tale recently retold in Las Vegas Magazine, he started with Mesa Grill in NYC in 1995, by simply walking in off the street and cold-calling for a job! 11 years later, he came to Las Vegas, and now heads up Mesa Grill at Caesar’s Palace.


The 2008 Geyserville is a pretty amazing story as well. 2008 was a dry year, with less than 35 inches of rainfall. Harvest played out across a full month, with individual attention being paid to each and every sub-parcel of fruit, to best capture every nuanced complexity on offer. Quick extractions and rapid primary fermentations meant reduced pump-overs and early pressing, to avoid harsh tannins. Natural secondaries were swift as well, and the wine was racked to barrel a month early. The final wine was beautiful, structured, and complex. In late fall of 2009, winemaker Eric Baugher estimated a developmental trajectory of 10-15 years. Based on how it’s been showing of late, Eric’s prediction looks to be a very good one, as the wine is aging out to perfection. But not even Eric’s crystal winemaker ball could have foreseen this amazing development: a presidential dinner! That said, when Robert Parker reviewed the ’08 Geyserville for the Wine Advocate, he did describe it as being “rich, fleshy … juicy and succulent,” so maybe at least HE saw a Presidential Porterhouse in its future?


The full menu:



For more about our Geyserville, please click here: Ridge Vineyards Geyserville

And to watch winemaker Eric Baugher discussing the latest vintage, please enjoy video tasting notes below:

Categories: Events, Food & Wine Pairing, Geyserville, Press Reviews, Tasting Flights, Tasting Notes, Varietals & Blends, Video, Viticultural Salmagundi, Wine & Food Pairing, Wine Quotes, Wine Tales, Zinfandel

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