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LI's Bedell wine part of Capitol's inaugural lunch

Ripe merlot grapes ready for picking during harvest

Ripe merlot grapes ready for picking during harvest at Bedell Cellars Vineyard in Cutchogue. (Oct. 2, 2012) Credit: Randee Daddona

Along with local politicos and influence peddlers, Long Island wine is heading to the nation's capital for President Barack Obama's second inauguration on Jan. 21. The North Fork's Bedell Cellars 2009 Merlot is one of three wines that will be served at the presidential luncheon in the Capitol after the ceremony.

"It's a rare honor, for sure," said Trent Preszler, CEO of the Cutchogue-based winery.

Bedell sent several bottles for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies to consider, but Preszler was not surprised that the 2009 merlot, which retails for about $30, was selected. "Merlot is a grape that has worked really well for Long Island," he said, "and the 2009 vintage resulted in some of the most elegant red wines we've ever made."

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the inaugural committee, has seen to it that the whole meal is suffused with Empire State products. The Bedell merlot will be served with the luncheon's second course (hickory-grilled bison), but the first course (steamed lobster with New England chowder) will be accompanied by Tierce 2010 Dry Riesling from the Finger Lakes.

Dessert will feature an apple pie made with Hudson Valley apples, cheese from Otsego and honey from Rochester. In what appears to be a concession to interstate harmony, it will be paired with Korbel Natural, Special Inaugural Cuvée Champagne from California.

The inaugural luncheon is attended by the president, vice president, their families, congressional leaders, cabinet members and Supreme Court justices. The 200 guests are served in the Capitol's Statuary Hall right after the president's address. The next item on Obama's agenda will be the inaugural parade -- a good reason, perhaps, to go easy on the wine.

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