Dining | Wine: White House Vino | Restaurant Reviews | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Eat & Drink » Restaurant Reviews

Dining | Wine: White House Vino

Susie Selby has something you don’t. No, I don’t mean a winery, though she has that too. But she has an official George W. Bush Sharpie pen. “It was slightly chewed on one end,” she said as we sipped and supped at last week’s Selby Wine Dinner, hosted by the good folks at Fleming’s Steakhouse & Wine Bar. Apparently, Dubya signs important documents with a Sharpie. “I’d always assumed he used crayons,” cracked one wiseacre at our table.

Back during the Clinton administration, the White House began serving Selby wines for certain dinners, luncheons and important events. Selby herself was working at her winery, and got a call from the White House. “Yeah, right,” she said, and promptly hung up, thinking it was a hoax. The White House staffer called back, “No, really, this is the White House.” Selby wines have been featured at The White House ever since.

During Selby’s recent trip to Maryland, the head food and beverage (F&B) guy for the White House invited her over for a private tour of the White House and Oval Office. It turns out he’d visited the Selby Winery many years ago, and Susie took the time to educate him about wine. He remembered her kindness and hospitality and when he took over F&B for the White House, he suggested they try Selby wines. Bill and Hillary liked them, and the rest is history. That’s how she came to own a slightly chewed George W. Bush Sharpie.

Selby doesn’t do many wine dinners or appearances. She’s too busy making wine—very good wine. So we were lucky to have her in Salt Lake City last week, thanks to Fleming’s and Francis Fecteau, wine broker and owner of Libation. The dinner kicked off with an amuse bouche of poached pear and prosciutto salad with mesclun and apple cider vinaigrette. The pairing of Selby’s Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County 2006 ($10.35) was absolutely flawless, and surprised even Susie. The crisp acidity of the wine and intense, concentrated melon flavors danced beautifully with the rich salad.

Next up was a very unorthodox pairing of a peppery yellow-plum-tomato gazpacho and red-tomato-basil sorbet with—get this—Selby Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Love 2005. Pinot and gazpacho? Well, this was a case of opposites attracting. And frankly, this gorgeous single-vineyard (from Jim and recently deceased Peggy Love’s vineyard in the Russian River Valley) would pair well with anything, it’s so luscious. We were fortunate to be able to sample this rich, elegant Pinot Noir since Selby only made 50 cases of it. It’s not available here in Utah yet but her regular Russian River Pinot Noir 2005 ($29) is; it’s like a lovely walk through Burgundy.

I adore Selby Chardonnay, and her Russian River Chardonnay 2005 vintage ($20.75) is really exquisite. Tropical fruit and floral flavors and aromas mix with malolactic creaminess in this very sexy wine, a nice match for chef Brandon Mikulich’s killer pan-seared and mustard-glazed escolar. Then it was back to red wine for eight-spice-rubbed braised short ribs and roasted sweet corn on the cob with chipotle compound butter—in this case, Selby Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County 2005 ($20). This is a silky, elegant Cabernet loaded with black currant, clove, tobacco and cherry flavors. Selby says she fell in love with Cabernet on her 21st birthday, drinking a bottle of Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon. You’ll love Selby’s version.

Finally, we were treated to bananas Foster along with an as-yet-unnamed late harvest white wine, which I thought should be called Susie’s Sexy Rot (as in, noble rot). Like Selby herself, these wines are seriously sexy.