Wine: Biltmore Century Red Wine
Grapes: merlot (58 percent), sangiovese (42 percent)
Region: Antler Hill Village, N.C.
In the glass: Biltmore Century Red is a fairly deep ruby red in color with a semi-opaque appearance, going out into a light pinkish-red rim definition and surprisingly high viscosity.
On the nose: There is excellent red and black berry fruit at first, then crushed brambleberry, loganberry juice, hints of vanilla bean stalk, oak references and raspberry jam, with a hint of underlying mineral character and good sweet tobacco and spice notes.
On the palate: It is a lovely rounded blast of berry fruit with dominance by raspberries, blueberries and boysenberries. The fine structure of the wine goes into a soft, lush fruit midpalate with lots of berries, then sweet minerals and aniseed hints. The finish is wonderfully supple with no obtrusive tannins and a nice, lingering blackberry and licorice finale. Tasting this blind, there’s no way you’d be able to guess East Coast and not California, which is a great achievement in itself.
Odds and ends: This is a fantastic and quintessentially American story. Biltmore Century Red Wine is produced at the famous Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. It is the only property in the United States that looks like one of the greatest fairy-tale Chateaux ever built. The most important — as far as this column goes — feature here is the vineyards that today produce a tremendous array of wines. I am not certain that all of these wines reach the kind of quality that could be termed delicious, but Century Red is definitely among them. Given that I found this in local retail at about half of what it is sold for at the estate winery and most of the East Coast, this is a pretty sweet deal. Try it with a traditional beef roast with potatoes, and drink it now through 2014.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at email@example.com.