Birthdays, Blessings and a Glass of Biltmore

Lately, I’ve been writing about white wines on Wednesday but I wanted to push it back for a very special occasion. It’s my girl’s birthday. What makes it doubly special is that her day is also my late father’s birthday. I still celebrate with a toast to him. My sister used to make the joke that while she and our other siblings got him traditional birthday gifts, I gave him a grandchild. On that one particular April 16th, I got marks for creativity, and timing (I wasn’t expecting her debut until the 18th). And her birth had no other inducement than a warm bath and watching the movie Jerry Maguire. I wonder how many other births have been brought on by hearing Tom Cruise yell, “show me the money!”?

To toast the occasion, I wanted to find something that would pair a simple but spicy dish. Riesling came to mind. Instead of finding the traditional Alsace version, I wanted to find an offering that was closer to home. The 2013 Biltmore Riesling fit the bill. Cultivated on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville North Carolina, the combination of mineral rich, yet tough soil and cooler climates create the perfect environment for producing some fine, complex Riesling.

Qualities of Riesling ~

  • thrives in cool climates and poor soil ~ cooler climates increase its acidity which gives it the bright complex quality.
  • aromatic and floral. stone fruit vibe : apple, apricot, peach, pear. clean in taste, clear in the glass, complex aromas in more mature vintages including a gasoline (yes).
  • the compact bunches on the vine make it prone to noble rot (botrytis cinerea) which is actually a good thing.

Noble Rot serves two distinct purposes to wine:

  • It intensifies a wine’s sweetness while adding intensity and complexity. It does this by causing grapes to dehydrate while at the same time keeping sugar levels constant. Grapes affected by Noble Rot are more syrupy, sweeter and some may have a higher alcohol content.
  • It adds flavor ~ noble rot grapes have have higher levels of phenylacetaldehyde, an aromatic compound that can be described like honey, rose, or beeswax.

If you can say ‘phenylacetaldehyde quickly three times, you get to take a sip!

On the scale of dry to sweet, this Riesling tended to be more on the sweet-ish but with a distinctive spice finish. It was full-bodied with a honey-like, viscous mouthfeel. Subtle floral notes of stone fruit (apricot) were prominent on the nose. Paired with grilled chicken tacos, it brought out a nice spiced pear vibe that was most satisfying.

One of the things about enjoying a glass of wine is that it allows you the chance to sit back and reflect on times shared with those you love. It helps to slow the world down to savor the moment because, as I’ve found over the past few years, those moments can be fleeting. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that my daughter is growing up so quickly; and that my dad has been gone for almost five years. And while I miss him every day, I feel very blessed that he and his granddaughter will always share this day. There’s a beautiful continuity in that, and it fuels the belief that some blessings were meant to be.


©TheWineStudent. 2015


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