Bedell Merlot a Special Guest at the Inauguration

The Dems may have won, but inauguration attendees will be seeing red on January 21.

Or, even better, tasting Long Island red.

Congratulations are in order for Bedell Cellars, whose 2009 Merlot will be poured at the 57th Inauguration ceremonies.

The wine was chosen by New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who is Chairman of the Inaugural Ceremonies, and it will be paired with hickory-grilled bison as the second course at the 2013 Inaugural luncheonLong Island’s finest will be enjoyed by President ObamaVice President Biden, members of Congress, the Supreme Court and the Cabinet.

“We’re really honored,” says Rich Olsen-Harbich, the winemaker at Bedell. “And the merlot is perfect for a luncheon—it’s a good food wine.”

Schumer personally tasted the wine, which ultimately received the green light from Design Cuisine, the Arlington, Virginia-based caterers.

Bedell is known for its merlot, as is the North Fork,” says Olsen-Harbich. “Having it as a part of the inaugural ceremonies is a new exclamation point on the Long Island wine region.”

Long Island is now in its 40th year of producing wines, and the fruits of its labor, once perhaps snubbed by more traditional wine enthusiasts, have become increasingly recognized. Serving Bedell at the Inaugural luncheon shines an additional spotlight on Long Island as a world-class wine destination.

Wine Enthusiast recently named Twin Forks wine country as a Wine Travel Destination 2013. And Long Island came in at No. 5 on TripAdvisor’s list of Top 10 WinDestinations in the United States, which was released last October.

Because of the relatively small quantities of wine produced on Long Island, it’s primarily been a regionally lauded label. But the small batch process may work in Long Island’s favor as the local and sustainability movements continue to gain traction on the national stage.

Long Island pour appeals to oenophiles who hope to whet their palate with a bottle that tells a more unique story.

“Our style is very different,” says Olsen-Harbich. “Long Island wine is more elegant—there’s a crispness to it.”

Key to achieving Long Island’s distinct taste is the region’s terroir and, in particular, the maritime climate.

“The area has grown up around wine. It’s really untouched from what it was,” says Olsen-Harbich, who has been a winemaker on the East End for 32 years and part of the Bedell team since 2010. “The farmland rolls to the sea—it’s not common to find that combination together.”

Bedell Cellar is a member of Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing (LISW), which recognizes vineyards that practice sustainable agriculture. Launched in 2012, it seeks to proliferate knowledge of green wine-making methods.

As Long Island wines achieve fame outside of the tri-state area, Bedell is one of the area’s oldest and most established vineyards. A fixture on the North Fork for 30 years, Bedell Cellars encompasses 80 acres.

The 2009 merlot received 91 points from Wine Spectator, the highest score the publication has ever awarded to a red wine from eastern North America.

“The 2009 vintage has been particularly successful,” says Olsen-Harbich. At the luncheon, the paired bison will be served with wild huckleberry reduction, strawberry preserve and red cabbage, red potato horseradish cake, baby golden beets and green beans and a butternut squash purée. Bedell CEO Trent Preszler will attend the ceremonies.

“I’m pleased to be able to showcase a fantastic New York company, one of many wineries that strengthen our economy,” said Schumer in a release.

New York agricultural products dominate the Inaugural luncheon menu, including the third course—a Hudson Valley apple pie with sour cream ice cream, aged cheese and honey.

It’s no secret that Obama’s favorite dessert is pie. But will he soon admit that his favorite wine hails from the East End?

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