Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Biltmore Estate

NV Biltmore Estate Wines -- I just tasted through 4 of the Biltmore wines and quickly pointed out to the rep that they were all NV, which to me was a negative, but then I quickly remembered that we are talking North Carolina here. At first I thought it was the Biltmore Hotel in Miami, Florida, which has a great public golf course, but I never saw any vineyards when I lived down there. The pool in Miami is I think the largest in the State or Universe or something. Late night bar is good too! Anyway, back to North Carolina.

If these were NV California wines I would pass as unremarkable at the price point ($10 to $15), but for North Carolina (actually American AVA; I don't have time to research if NC has an AVA; it's Christmas damnit!) they are very drinkable and pleasant. The Chardonnay was a bit overdone on the oak and butter (Meridian-like) but the Pinot was varietally correct, the Merlot was tasty, and the Cab very pleasant with some nuances.

I couldn't find much on the website as far as production notes, but I am led to believe that the wine is estate bottled. Also, supposedly with 900,000 visitors each year it is the most visited "winery" in the country although I am not sure if they mean the Hotel or the "winery". The wines have been for sale at the Hotel in the past and online, but have just recently been offered through the local distributor. Look for them on the shelves!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

When we visited the Biltmore estate several years (8-10?) ago, the wines were produced from grapes or juice trucked in from California. They probobly truck /import them still.

8:35 AM  
Blogger jens at cincinnati wine said...

I have not researched this exhaustively but I did find a citation from the "Daily Press" in March of 2005 that some of the juice is in fact trucked in.

"Current winemaker Bernard Delille, who took over when Jourdain retired 10 years ago, also purchases grapes from nearby growers, and brings in refrigerated juice from California, Oregon and Washington. He crafts his bottlings in a 90,000-square-foot facility that once served as a dairy barn."

So without tasting/production notes on each of these wines, I cannot say where the juice comes from. If it is North Carolina juice, I would continue to support the efforts. If it is California juice bottled under the "Estate" name, I will not re-order as I don't need to carry souvenirs!

5:17 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

On a recent (Nov. '05) visit, I understood a small minority of the grapes are grown on the NC estate and most of the juice is from CA, and that this year's local harvest was worse than usual. They have 10 - 12 wines, including a couple of decent sparklers, available at the estate and the better ones are invariably made with CA juice. One thing that pissed me off was that we could only order wine other than Biltmore wines in one restaurant out of several in the entire complex. I didn't appreciate being forced to drink their OK wine.

5:58 PM  
Blogger jens at cincinnati wine said...

Actually this has given me a great idea of bottling some wine here locally. I could suggest that the vineyards are hillside (Indian Hill that is) and if I could get rid of the junked Mercedes in the back garage, I could throw in some tanks and barrels. Now for a name, I was thinking Chateau de Faux, after my great-great grandfather, the Duke Ferdinand Faux XVI. Or how about Cincinnati Garage Wine? Oopps, that one is already trademarked!

6:17 PM  

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