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May 19

Biltmore Estate Winery


Biltmore Estate 
COPYRIGHT 2006, Michelle S Lentz

The Biltmore Estate is one of the most beautiful areas I’ve seen in this country. It’s well maintained and spacious, perfectly set amongst the picturesque North Carolina mountains. If I lived in Asheville, I would use the Biltmore Gardens as my gym. I could walk through the gardens for hours.

The winery has several tours, two restaurants, a large tasting room and gift shop, and a reserve tasting bar. Our food at the Bistro arrived cold, so they comped us the entire meal. I was impressed. However, the wines at the restaurant (Biltmore, of course) were incredibly marked up, especially in comparison to what you could buy next door in the gift shop.

Overall, we thought most of their wines were overpriced for what you got. They offer around 40 wines, and we tried 22 of them. My personal opinion is that they are over-reaching. Why offer 40 so-so wines when you could offer 10 quality wines instead? I always advocate quality over quantity.

  Wine Barrels 

We ended up purchasing 2 bottles of their sweetest sparkler, the Pas de Deux. I enjoyed it and we
purchased one as a gift as well. The ballet shoes on the bottle helped
sway me, as I’m a former dancer. We also purchased another sparkler,
the Blanc de Noir Brut, which I really enjoyed I thought it was smooth
and velvety. We purchased two of the Chateau Reserve wines, including
the Cabernet Sauvignon (dark cherries, well balanced) and the Claret
(subdued pepper and cherry). Those are all non-vintage wines. We
purchased one vintage wine from the California vineyards – the North
Coast Syrah, which was peppery but well-rounded. I believe it is our
choice for the Wine Blogging Wednesday dinner. All of these wines were
only available to taste for a price, at the Reserve tasting bar.

I was incredibly disappointed in their Cab Franc, which I had read about. I thought it was acidic
and had an unpleasant kick to it. Most of the wines were dry and they
seem pretty proud of their dryness. The winery guides and pourers will
certainly remind you of it a lot. At the general tasting bar, you
receive 8 free tastings per person from a list of their wines. This
includes a Reserve Chardonnay, which was surprisingly drinkable and not
too oakey, when you first enter the room and collect your glass. Most
of their wines are basic blends and table wines. You can find a lot of
them in local stores. We can purchase the low end wines at the Party
Source near us. I won’t though. Those wines were disappointing. I
couldn’t find a single white I enjoyed, and even the viognier failed to
meet any of my expectations.

We took a behind the scenes tour, where we learned about their
filtering processes and their winemaker. Apparently they have an old
"traditional" French winemaker who insists on only making traditional,
dry wines. His assistant is a young girl from UPenn’s viticulture
program who wants to "bend to popular demand" and make bigger, fruitier
wines. Should be interesting to see how their competing styles pan out.
We also saw pallets stacked high with granulated sugar. Yep – the same
thing I use in cookies. They add this to their wine to raise the
alcohol content and add sweetness to their utterly dry wines. I had
never heard of this process, called chaptalization, and I even emailed Mark
to find out more about it. The tour was interesting, although I wasn’t
impressed with our tour guide. He was a college student who was
slightly cocky, turned 21 two months ago, and passionately advocated
boxes over both screwcaps and corks.

At the end of our tour, we were given a tasting of three Cabernet
Sauvignons: the standard, the Chateau Reserve, and the Chateau Reserve
pulled from a barrel 2 days earlier. I really enjoyed the barrel
tasting, as it had vibrant flavors that were missing in the other two.

We had a great time at the Biltmore Estate and Winery, purchased 5
wines, and then piled into the car for the 4 hour drive to Chapel Hill.
If you want to know more about the Biltmore Estate wines, shoot me an email. We took notes on just about everything we tasted. Photos of the Biltmore can be seen here.

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Posted by Michelle at 12:23 pm in Tastings, Travel, Wine Notes, Wineries | Permalink | Comments (11)

11 Responses to “Biltmore Estate Winery”

  1. Kim says:

    I just received a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from a friend who visited the Biltmore Vineyard. I am not a very advanced wine drinker or anything, but this bottle really struck me as being bad. I don’t know if you tasted the Cabernet Sauvignon on your visit, but to me, it was practically flavorless. I threw out the bottle after one glass.

  2. Shel says:

    You know, we tried 3 different Cab Sauvs. The first one, the low-end, was pretty awful. They got progressively better and based on value for price, I believe we picked up the mid-level one. We did have a barrel tasting of a Cab Sauv and it was pretty good.
    Of course, I say this now, but we thought the Syrah was good when we tasted it and were terribly disappointed when we got it home. Atmosphere (as in, gorgeous castle in the background) definitely helps sell their wines.

  3. j.thomas says:

    Was at BEW Aug. 05 and saw no evidence of grapes, vineyards or wine making. The production floor equipment was covered in dust and not a soul to be seen anywhere. The only tour we got was via our hushpuppies going up an down some steps to the tasting room. They were very generous and the lady working our bar was very glad to have us ask questions and ask what her preferences were and we tried them which seemed to please her even more. We got extra pours and tasted more than 8 wines. Their(?) sparkling wines were very good and paying $24 in the restaurant for a $12 retail bottle is the norm just about anywhere we go and we have been all over the world. I still don’t believe the wine is made there and saw nothing to prove otherwise. Their reds are not good and we aren’t much on whites except the occassional chard and the sparkling wines. The tour and tasting is free so not much to criticize there and we actually had a ball. I just about forgot that we went into the reserve room and paid for some sparkling wine pours, highly recommended. The restaurants are VERY hard to get reservations for any time resembling lunch or dinner and the whole Estate and grounds are wildly popular for some reason. Worth going to once I guess. I have never set foot in the “house” in 47 years and probably never will. The display of ostentatious wealth is not entertaining to me.

  4. JOhn says:

    Blitmore sounds beautiful in the picture above and you have added more beauty to it by writing such a fine blog about it. Thanks anyway.

  5. Tony Regan says:

    I live about an hour away from Biltmore and have visited it several times. It is truly magnificent to say the least. The wines I’ve had from there have been really good. I was very impressed to have quality wine from this region. I strongly suggest to anyone who claims they’ve had a bad bottle of Biltmore wine to give them another chance. Try a different type, it’s well worth it!

  6. Marlayna says:

    Helo there…
    If you’ve had a bad bottle of the wines I agree with the commentor above. Do give the Biltmore Estate another try. I work in the winery myself and the wines are loved… you can get a bad bottle anywhere and the estate itself isnt the only reason our wines sell.
    However some people just dont like wine…

  7. stephanie says:

    I am looking for a label with fireworks on it.

  8. stephanie says:

    I am looking for a label with fireworks on it.

  9. James says:

    “The display of ostentatious wealth is not entertaining to me.”

  10. Sean says:

    The price of admissions to this place is gloriously overpriced! $60 during the busy holiday season (of when I and a guest attended) and $35 during the least busy working season. The house is beautiful and amazing but if I built a house and charged people on average $45 per day visit throughout the year to tour it, I’m quite sure I can make it more pleasing with at least one roller coaster to boot plus with the ability for the guests to use the pool! On a serious note, maybe the fact that I’m from America’s playground of Orlando, Florida makes me feel this is a little overpriced to just walk around a richly historic house, which is pretty much all you can do unless you pay more for the other services they provide. Arrive early or expect to wait long. After the purchase of tickets we waited three hours touring the outside of the estate before we were allowed in. On the same day, we visited Chimney Rock Park, and for flat land dwellers, like us Floridians, this place was spectacularly amazing and was much more worthwhile with nature’s majestic beauty, thrills of vertigo, and the general low admission of $17 per person per day to tour (walk around). In my two-cents, nature’s richness beats man’s richness, but maybe this is just an argument between public vs. private.

  11. coupon says:


    Is this really the latest?…

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