WHAT: Originally conceived as a limited production wine to celebrate the new millennium, the Biltmore Century Collection has grown to become one of the most popular wines among visitors to the Biltmore tasting room in Asheville, N.C.
It started with the Century White released in 1999 as a tasting-room-only wine.
That wine was so popular it became a permanent part of the portfolio. A few years later Biltmore added a red blend.
The white is semi-sweet, made from Gewurztraminer, Muscat Canelli, Riesling and Symphony. Mendocino and Monterey, Calif., provide 98 percent of the grapes and 2 percent are grown in North Carolina.
I’m usually not a big fan of sweet wines, but the Century White is a refreshing change of pace for summer drinking.
It is a pale straw color with a beautiful floral bouquet. Tropical fruit predominates with hints of honeydew, lime and lemon. It should be served well chilled.
The red is what I would call off-dry, a fruit-filled Italian-style blend of Sangiovese and Merlot. All the grapes for the red come from California.
In the glass you get a dark cherry red color and aromas of plum and oak. Though it is a smooth, easy-drinking wine, there are some firm tannins to give it some structure. The major flavor is plum with a whiff of smoke.
This wine will taste better if you serve it slightly chilled.
Both wines are labeled non-vintage, but the current releases come from the 2010 vintage. Each wine is packaged in an etched glass bottle depicting the iconic Biltmore House.
WINERY: The winery has only been around since 1985, but it has become one of the most-visited wineries in the country. It is a part of Biltmore Estate, a popular tourist spot in Asheville, N.C.
Richard Morris Hunt, the architect of Biltmore House, also designed the estate’s former dairy barn, the site of the winery.
The tasting room is a fun part of any Biltmore House visit, with barrel tastings, cooking demonstrations, food and wine pairings and jazz and blues performances.
Grape vines were planted in 1971, and wines are made from local grapes as well as from premium California vineyards.
The winery produces about 120,000 cases of wine a year from many varietals. The reserve wines and sparkling wines are especially good.
GOES WITH: We had the white with Chinese food, and it was perfect. It’s often difficult to find a nice wine to pair with Chinese food, but wines with a little sweetness are a great match.
I thought the sweetness was a nice counterpoint to the heat of my Kung Pao Chicken.
The red went well with a meatball sandwich that was swimming in a delicious tomato sauce.
For the white, the winery recommends Chinese or Vietnamese food, sweet and sour dishes, coconut shrimp, ambrosia salad, pear tart, coconut cake or as an aperitif.
For the red, it recommends prime rib, barbecue ribs and cherries flambe.