Answers from Our Experts (1)
Jennifer Knowles is the Wine Director at Plume, the fine dining restaurant at The Jefferson, Washington, D.C., and he has created a wine list that offers you the chance to pair your meal with a trip back to Thomas Jefferson's time. The list includes a focus on Madeira, a fortified wine popular among America's founders, but is also stocked with reds, whites, sweet wines and sparkling offerings that represent the wine travels and passion of the hotel's namesake.
While in office as the third president of the United States, Jefferson took time off to travel through Europe in search of great wines with which to stock the cellars of his estate, Monticello. Knowles, sommelier for both Quill (the hotel’s cocktail bar and lounge) and Plume, uses the paths of Jefferson's viniculture wanderings to build the restaurants' shared wine lists. The resulting list includes selections from Spain, Austria and France, but also similar vintages from places Jefferson never visited — Japan, South Africa, Oregon and California.
The hotel's research also inspired a passion for Madeira, a fortified wine that was popular with Jefferson and his fellow revolutionaries. The restaurants have gathered vintages of this strong beverage from three centuries, including bottles that date back to Jefferson's time (currently, the oldest on the list is from 1720). A taste is pricey ($1,720 for a 2 oz. pour), but offers a hands-on historical experience few American wine lists can match.