It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

With Thanksgiving over, the inevitable slide into the Christmas holidays has begun. Usually in the weeks before Thanksgiving, this depresses me. However, this year I got the opportunity to taste a wine that made me wish for the arrival of holiday and mistletoe.

The Biltmore Estate has been producing wines since the 1970s and presently producing wines from both estate and contract grown grapes. VinoVerve had its first taste of wines from the estate when Marguerite Barrett first tasted the Century White on 2009’s Open That Bottle Night.  Besides good wine, I love the sense of history that comes from the Biltmore Estate and their wines.

The Estate was built by George Washington Vanderbilt II a scion of the great Vanderbilt family.  Being the youngest of his father’s eight, the bulk of his father’s wealth went to his older brothers, but G.W. was not left penniless.  He build the Biltmore with the plan to pursue intellectual pursuits which he did, including experiments with horticulture, animal husbandry and silvaculture.  Unlike many intellectuals of his time, his goal was to make the estate self-sustaining.

In furtherance of this goal, GWV’s grandson began the winery.  Starting with French-American hybrid grapes, the estate is now growing Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling and Viognier.  The wine makers are using North Carolina grapes as well as those from California and Washington to produce award winning wines.

The Christmas at Biltmore® White Wine is the perfect wine for a holiday meal or party.  It is fruity and off-dry to semi-sweet which will match perfectly with spicy foods.  It is lovely for sipping in a crowded party and if sweeter wines aren’t your thing, you probably have an Aunt Rita who drinks nothing but.  The flavors of orange, spices with a touch of mint scream Christmas and the bottle label with a holiday tree seals the deal.

This wine is available at the winery, online and in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington D.C., and West Virginia.

Enjoy your holiday season!

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor
December 1st, 2011


Disclosure:  I received this wine as a sample.



Christmas Wish

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Some place deep inside of each of us, there is a child who is dying to get out and enjoy the holidays with the abandon that we did as kids. At Christmas time, or Hanukah for Rory (Mozel Tov!) we are celebrate traditions that make it easy for us to forget that we still aren’t 12. (though, frankly I would prefer to regress to six, thankyouverymuch) Remember when you thought that the sky was the limit? You could ask for a pony and all the ice cream in the world and were disappointed that you didn’t get it (You were going to give your Daddy all the rum raisin, so you weren’t being selfish)? How long did it take you to lower the expectations on your dreams? Maybe a year, two tops?

This year, I want to re-invigorate my Christmas flight of fancy. I want to dream big again . And I am using the holiday season as a way to exercise this kind of dreaming.

When I grow up I want to be a professional VinoVerver. I want Marguerite and I to be able to devote our time to traveling around the country and visiting wineries. Heck, I would like to visit wineries WITH Marguerite. I would like Marguerite and I to road trip and attend the Wine Blogger’s Conference in Walla Walla, Washington this year too. So here, it goes. My letter to Santa

Santa letter

Dead Soldiers

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve, Editor

Here are some of the wines that we consumed with our Christmas feast. Before you get too judgemental, there were five adults at dinner and it was a leisurely dinner. Most of the wines that we had were red, including a Tablas Creek Syrah, a Warm Lake Estate Pinot Noir (which didn’t get photographed) but also a Riesling from Luxembourg. These wines were drunk with my homemade Turducken (a chicken stuffed into a duck and then stuffed into a turkey), salad, scalloped potatoes, Cajun dressing and creamed spinach.

After dinner, it was coffee, a cranberry and orange trifle (made with pannetone) and my homemade liqueur, Fiori di Sicilia…

I hope that your holiday feasts turned out as well!

Happy Holidays!

Unexpected Gifts

Marguerite Barrett

Contributing Writer
A few weeks ago, I received an email from a friend of mine, Ansgar Dierkes.  Ansgar and I worked together about 5-6 years ago when we were both with TMP Worldwide Executive Search.  At the time, Ansgar was a Partner in our Frankfurt, Germany office, and I was traipsing around the world rolling out our new database and global business process.
Since then we’ve both moved on to other firms, and Ansgar recently opened his own search firm, Dierkes Partners, Gmbh based in Frankfurt.   Ansgar was in the process of purchasing the software we used at TMP for his new firm and reached out to me to see if I still had copies of the manual we wrote and the training handouts we used in our original roll-out back in 2002.  Being a total packrat I had most of the material and emailed off what I could, photocopied the rest and dropped it off with the US Postal Service.
Then, the other day I’m sitting at home making lists of all the things I have to get done before heading off to spend Christmas with my family when FedEx shows up with a case of wine: 6 bottles Felipe Rutini 2005 Malbec (Argentina) and 6 bottles of Nobilo 2007 Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand) – with thanks and holiday wishes from Ansgar.  Needless to say I was (am) completely overwhelmed!   
Cheers to unexpected gifts.  Merry Christmas, Ansgar!

Not even a mouse

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

A Post and A Prize for YOU!*

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads,
And Mama(n) in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap —

Yeah, yeah.. Don’t worry this isn’t a Kevin post… I wouldn’t want you to all drop dead of surprise!

This IS the way that I ended up looking last night while trying to get in one more post..

Luckily, Santa took pity on me and woke me up and patted my head, and gave me some water and sent me to bed… at least I think it was Santa. I was a bit bleery eyed at the time.

Either way, he told me that if I was a good girl that there would be wine for us all to drink on Christmas Day.. so I hope you enjoy yours!

Merry Christmas from VinoVerve… and enjoy your Hannukah too!

* A prize to the first person (non-VinoVerve, otherwise Aunt Maggie will win this in a heartbeat) to guess BOTH Christmas stories referenced in this post. To win, email your answer to me at:

Good luck and Happy Holidays!

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Marguerite Barrett

Contributing Writer
My true love gave to me…
12 Wineries Remaining (on the CT Wine Trail)
11 Pinots a’Drinking
10 Parties Attending
9 Syrahs a’Sipping
8 Glasses Raised
7 Ports a’Sharing
6 Days to New Year’s
5 More Wine “Trails” (MA, RI, NY, NJ, Long Island)
4 Wine Expos (Boston, CT, New England; Newport Mansions)
3 More Posts (in 2008)
2 Whites for Science
And a New Wine – Rebel Girl!

Happy Holidays!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

By Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Alice Feiring wrote the other day, that she doesn’t “go in for the what I drank last night kind of blogging but every once in a while I have to give in to the temptation, “. I, however, do. You might call it my bread and butter, assuming of course that this blog was more than a labor of love. So I am compelled to tell you why I am feeling Christmasy.

Is it the snow?

No, although we have some of that!

Is it the cold?

No, although it is bitterly cold here…

Is it because Santa brought me some wine?

Well, not Santa. But surely one of his elves. I received a sample of the Robert Oatley Vineyards Chardonnay the other day. A Shiraz too, but I haven’t tasted it yet.

It took a while to get a good taste of the chardonnay because, like all wine served in this house, it was too cold. Because of that, it had a green and grassy taste, which I don’t necessarily mind.. I like vinho verde and that is supposed to taste that way. But this was chardonnay and it generally doesn’t. I think that Kevin likes to keep the wine cold so every sip is a new discovery.. the wine constantly changes. Sure enough, as the wine warmed up, the flavors opened and became buttery, but the grass was still there. As was a minerality. It was tasty indeed.

I also love the story about the winery. These wines are produced in the Mudgee Region of Australia (New South Wales), one of the oldest in the country. Additionally one of the vineyards that grew the grapes for this wine is the Craigmoor, which is the oldest continuously operated winery in Australia. While the wines are produced at a central winery, the old Craigmoor winery has been turned into a cafe (The Wild Oats), The Cellar Door tasting room and a wine museum.

The bad news? It won’t be available in Chicago until later in 2009, but it is coming…

The best news? Since I wasn’t expecting to receive this wine… it has restored my faith in the Christmas spirit. Who knew that Santa was in PR?