30 November 2011

Biltmore Wines for the Holidays

These are the third and fourth wines I've tried from the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. (See previous reviews of the 2009 Biltmore Estate Reserve Pinot Noir and the NV Chardonnay Sur Lies.) While the grounds are home to vineyards, the grapes for these two wines came from California while the winemaking took place in North Carolina. In the future I'd love to try more of the Tar Heel grown and vinted wines from this interesting bit of architectural history.

2010 Christmas at Biltmore
Grapes sourced from California: Gewürztraminer, Muscat Canelli, Chenin Blanc, Riesling
$12, 12.5% abv.
The label was designed by Meagan Warren of Matthews, NC, the winner of a design contest they held for the first time last year. I haven't been to the Biltmore for Christmas or at any other time of the year, but as a child I attended a lot of tours of holiday-decorated mansions (to my mind, anything with more than four bedrooms, but including some legitimate Victorian and Gilded Age wonders). The bottle obviously makes a good Christmas party gift, but it's a legitimately good wine. Despite the presence of three sweet grapes, it is only mildly sweet and the Chenin Blanc gives it a good structure. A crowd pleaser that will appeal to the wine enthusiast as an enjoyable sipper.

2007 Biltmore Estate Blanc de Blancs Brut
100% Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley
$25, 12.2% abv.
Méthode Champenoise
A skillfully made sparkler with medium bubbles, firm acidity, and a slight toasty nose. It holds up very well with food, particularly with salty/savory appetizers. The label is dignified (which I think is important for New Year's Eve or classier parties), the structure is serious, and it's got a fun story behind it.

Also note the first appearance of my beloved moose mugs this Christmas season. I prefer sparklers in wine glasses, then flutes, then in coupes, but on the second day a splash of leftover bubbly in a moose mug is worth the odd looks from friends.

Note: These wines were received as samples.

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