AG Pick: Biltmore Estate Chateau Reserve Blanc de Blancs 2008

Small and energetic bubbles. Citrus and tropical fruit flavors.

This description could apply to a number of Champagnes and sparkling wines. But I’m not talking about French bubbly — I’m talking about North Carolina.

The sparkling wine: the 2008 Biltmore Estate Château Reserve Blanc de Blancs.

This brut is made from Chardonnay grapes grown in North Carolina and produced using the same traditional method as Champagne.

You may not have heard of the wine, but you most likely know its name. The Biltmore Estate is the home of George Vanderbilt and is a popular attraction in Asheville, North Carolina.

While the estate and gardens date back to the late 1800s, the winery is more recent. The first French-American hybrid grapes were planted in 1971, with vitis vinifera (traditional wine grapes) planted a few years later. Today the estate grows Chardonnay, Riesling, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The winery also produces wines made with grapes from California.

Though it may not have the recognition of a California winery, the Biltmore Estate is the most visited winery in the United States, welcoming more than one million visitors each year.

Biltmore Estate’s wines have won awards at national and international competitions.  One sip of the 2008 Château Reserve Blanc de Blancs and you’ll understand why.

Without seeing the label, you would never guess this sparkling wine comes from the southeast United States. It is dry and elegant, with flavors of tart lemon, white grapefruit and pineapple.  A hint of toast rounds out the palate, and the finish is clean and crisp.

This brut is versatile and can be enjoyed on its own, with shellfish and seafood, light pasta dishes and spicy Asian cuisine.

Biltmore Estate wines are sold at wine shops throughout the eastern part of country and online. A bottle of the 2008 Biltmore Estate Château Reserve Blanc de Blancs costs approximately $29.

12.5% alcohol by volume

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