A renaissance for Roussanne

Written By Jean Sexton

Posted 10/18/16

Updated 03/16/20

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Receipts in Biltmore’s archives document that George Vanderbilt purchased and consumed wine on a regular basis, both at Biltmore and during his travels. Records of some trips, including one to Europe in 1891, are especially comprehensive. From receipts it’s clear that Vanderbilt enjoyed a variety of wines and that they were almost always of French origin.

With that in mind, we’d like to introduce you to one of Biltmore’s newest wines. Meet Roussanne—a standard in the Rhône region of France and now a rising star in the U.S.

White grapes on the vineMaddening & majestic

Described as both “maddening and majestic” by some growers, the late-blooming Roussanne is notoriously difficult to ripen and often yields less fruit than other varietals. Named for its rusty appearance when mature, Roussanne may include shades of rust, gold, and green grapes in a single cluster, signifying multiple levels of ripeness which, in turn, may affect the flavor of the finished wine.

Once cultivated mainly in Europe, Roussanne now seems to be thriving around Santa Barbara, which tends to experience cooler temperatures than the rest of California’s wine regions. This inherent coolness combines with Pacific breezes and fogs to extend the growing season, allowing Roussanne to ripen completely without developing too much sweetness during the heat of late summer.

What to expect

Cool-climate Roussanne wines open with an intriguing floral aroma reminiscent of herbal tea. The taste features a complex richness associated with stone fruits such as peaches and apricots, and a surprisingly “oily” texture gives Roussanne a mouth-feel similar to red wines rather than white ones.

When our winemakers discover exceptional grapes such as Roussanne grown by our California partners, they are inspired to create distinctive wines for the Limited Release series. Handcrafted in small lots, this series allows you to experience their skillful artistry in each bottle.

Biltmore Estate Limited Release Roussanne

Our Limited Release Roussanne

Refreshing and easy to drink, our Biltmore Estate Limited Release Roussanne features flavors of lime, kiwi, lemon, and tangerine. It pairs well seafood, including spicy dishes such as the traditional bouillabaisse of southern France. It also provides a nice complement to Asian cuisine, which can be a challenge for most wines.

For our Vanderbilt Wine Club members, we have crafted a delicious Biltmore Estate Limited Release Roussanne-Viognier

blend available exclusively to them. The two varietals combine to create a delightfully rich, full-bodied wine featuring good tannin structure plus flavors of red berries and vanilla.

White V

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