T.G.I.F. Champagne And The Like…N.V. Biltmore Estate Blanc de Blanc Brut

This week’s sparkler is from Biltmore Estate based in North Carolina – a state that’s not top-of-mine when it comes to wine!  If that name sounds familiar, it may be because it’s part of the Biltmore Company which runs the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C.  The estate features the largest privately owned home (175,000 sq. ft and 250 rooms!) in the U.S.  It’s a national historic landmark, and property includes 75 acres of formal gardens, a winery and the Inn on Biltmore Estate.  It was built by George Washington Vanderbilt II, a member of the Vanderbilt family, between 1889 and 1895.  Today, the Biltmore Company is run by thee great-grandson of George Washington Vanderbilt II, William A.V. Cecil II.

The Biltmore winery is housed in what was formerly a dairy barn. The first vineyards at Biltmore were established in 1971. Today, according to their website, Biltmore is…

The most visited winery in the United States isn’t located in Napa Valley. It’s at Biltmore in the mountains of North Carolina, where approximately 1 million visitors stop by to sample award-winning estate wines each year

These days Biltmore is looking to expand outside of North Carolina, having recently partnered with Young’s Market, an Orange-based spirits and wines distributor, to distribute its wines in California commencing this month, Arizona next month, and the Pacific Northwest later this year.  They are hoping to have distribution in all 50 states by 2014.

They produce a variety of wines from their 94 acres of estate vineyards, including Chardonnay, Riesling, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.  In addition to their vineyards in North Carolina, their portfolio includes wines from California –  a Russian River Pinot Noir, Napa Valley Chardonnay and Syrah, an Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and a red blend from Sonoma County. On the sparkling front, in addition to this wine they also produce four other sparklers. This wine is made from Sonoma County Chardonnay grapes.

N.V. Biltmore Estate Blanc de Blanc

Where it’s from: USA>California>Sonoma County

The grape(s) Chardonnay

Production method: Traditional Method 

Alcohol: 12.5%

Dosage: Brut

 Retail: $25

Media Sample

My tasting notes follow:

Pale yellow straw color with plenty of pinprick bubbles, that dissipated somewhat quickly. The nose offers biscuit dough, green apple and lemon peel aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with a moderately creamy mousse and  apple, pear and hints of hazelnut and lemon flavors. Short finish – 86pts

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). While this wine is labeled as Brut, it was closer to Extra-Dry for me (as are many sparklers labeled “Brut”).  This would be good both as an aperitif, and owing to its touch of sweetness, slightly spice foods.

Recommendation:  While this is a very good sparkling wine, I wouldn’t purchase at the $25 SRP.  There is simply too much competition, I believe, that offers better value.

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