Updated: Dec 21, 2020
What has been your favorite travel destination in the US? Personally, I have a few places near and dear to my heart. The Finger Lakes, yes of course, but some of the most epic trips I’ve taken were to Asheville, North Carolina. For those who followed me during the height of the pandemic, you know I spent the entire spring season in Sapphire, NC. There’s something about the natural waterfalls and mountainous landscape that always lures me back. The highlight of my trips to North Carolina have always been my visits to Biltmore. She may be “beauty & grace,” but she’s also producing wine that you can sip on the estate, or in the comfort of your own home.
Let’s face -- it we’ve all been traveling through our wine glasses in 2020, so when I found out Biltmore's Winery has curated wine packages, I couldn’t have been more excited. I was ready to be transported back to those rocking chairs that overlook the property while having laughs with my sister on our last girls' trip. But before I delve into some of my favorite wines of the season, let’s take a stroll back into history to really set up a sense of place.
“We have a river. We have a château. We have the land. We have no vineyard. Every French château has a vineyard.” – William A.V. Cecil
George Vanderbilt’s love of collecting and cellaring wine started in the early 1900s, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that his grandson, William Cecil, planted the first vines. William traveled to France to secure a winemaker, and met Philippe Jourdain who was a sixth-generation winemaster. Philippe suggested additional varieties of vinifera be added to the estate, and that’s when things really took off.
Today the estate produces nearly 150,000 cases of wine annually. You can find them at the winery, online, retail, or at local establishments. If you can’t make it to the famed estate right now, I urge you to enjoy Biltmore Wines at home this season.
What I tasted: Holiday Cheer Wine Trio:
Biltmore Estate® Limited Release Sémillon
Clear, pale lemon at first sight with notes of Asian pear, melon, yellow apple, citrus zest and acacia jumping out of the glass. The body is quite full and waxy with notes from the nose carrying through. There is a noticeable creamy texture here that could only be achieved by resting the wine on its lees for an extended time. This wine would pair great with a cheeseboard and could even stand up to grilled white meats in a cream sauce.
Vanderbilt Reserve Merlot Dry Creek Valley
With fruit hailing from the Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma, the color shows a clear, deep ruby. The nose is quite intense with notes of black cherry, raspberry, stewed red plum, violet, cinnamon and toasty oak. These notes are confirmed on the palate with surprisingly fresh acidity and a medium (+) body. The tannins are slightly grippy allowing you to pair this with a hearty holiday meal, but this could also be paired perfectly with a wood-burning fire and warm, fuzzy socks.
Biltmore Estate® Romance Brut
The sparkling wine program at the estate is an ode to Edith Dresser Vanderbilt’s family. It symbolizes celebration and a generous gesture from Daniel Le Roy (a famous pioneer and summer resident of Newport) who provided exquisite bottles from his own cellar in celebration of Edith and George Vanderbilt's wedding in the late 1800s. None of the wines in this famous cellar were ever sold, instead, they were passed down through generations only to be used in celebration of weddings. These bubbles are made in the traditional method which means a second fermentation happens in the bottle to capture that beautiful effervescence. Grapes are sourced from vineyard partners in California, and notes of melon, citrus zest, green apple, brioche and walnut are abundant.
This article was written in partnership with Biltmore