A Map For Marguerite

South Eastern New England AVA

South Eastern New England AVA

It seemed wrong that Marguerite was heading out on a new adventure in a new AVA without a map. So, I got my geek on and made one for her. Obviously this is not to scale…so please don’t use it for navigation purposes.

Merci and enjoy.

Happy Birthday, Mom

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

The Birthday Girl and Celia

The Birthday Girl and Celia


You aren’t seeing things.

It is just that Marguerite and I are very close.  Close enough to be sisters.  And as further proof of that we have mothers that are born one day apart.

Which means that both of us were involved in birthday celebrations this weekend.  Marguerite back in the aulde sod and me, here in the Chicagoland area.

Voga Pinot Grigio

Voga Pinot Grigio

We went with my Mom to Villagio Ristorante in Roselle, Illinois.  A  nice little Italian place with home made pasta and a nice wine list.  Saturday night, they also had live entertainment with Vito Zatto, who styles himself as a Las Vegas-style singer and entertainer.

The restaurant was PACKED.  And virtually every table was a table of six or more.  Balloons proclaiming Happy Birthday could be seen in every room of the restaurant. It was noisy. It was crowded. It took a long time to get served and strangely, everytime we ordered wine, it was out. Well, in all fairness, people were drinking alot of wine. We ended up drinking a very light pinot grigio called Voga.  The bottle was the same shape as a mineral water that I have had before Voss.  The label was clear so I couldn’t read it.  I was pleasant and while not crisp, I would certainly describe it as brisk.

Santedame Chianti Classico

Santedame Chianti Classico

Another of the wines that we drank was the Tenuta Santedame Chianti Classico which was robust with Sangiovese’s red fruits.  It was perfect with our main courses.

After that, I lost track of the wine as what we ordered continued to be out and as Mom and I would head down to catch part of the show.  The birthday girl even got to sing, which is her favorite thing to do… and Vito sang to her as well.  She was the birthday girl after all.  And in truth, he sang to ALL the birthday boys and girls in the restaurant.  At least eight tables near as I could count.

Mom Dancing to YMCA

Mom Dancing to YMCA

As we finished up our dinner, my girls were dragging… Sophie had been at a school retreat and had been up for nearly two straight days.  Celia was tired and wanted desperately to make use of her text messaging functions.  But the dinner was a success.  Mom, who’s birthday is today, was happy.  And wasn’t that the point?

So, Happy Birthday Mom!  Hope today was as good as your party!

Red Belly Black

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Red Belly BlackConfused you, didn’t I?

Red Belly Black 2008 Chardonnay was a belated birthday gift that I received from my father-in-law recently. It is named after a snake native to South Australia outside of Adelaide where the Angove Family Winemakers have been producing wine since 1886.

I liked this wine. The oak was well balanced which has been a pet peeve of mine about Chardonnay for a while. This wine spent time in small French oak barrels and was bottled sur-lie or out of the barrel without further racking or filtration. This technique adds a creaminess to the wine.

The wine tasted of  crisp almost under ripe nectarine with some mellow melon and vanilla mixed into it.

It has a bite to it.  But unlike the snake it is named for, the bite isn’t fatal, but rather pleasant.

Chilean surprises

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Taking a break over the weeked to celebrate my father’s birthday, this delightful bottle was opened.

Casas del Bosque was a Sauvignon Blanc from the Casablanca Valley of the Valparaiso Region of Chile.

For me, there are two really interesting aspects to Chilean wine. The first is that while the main European influence in Chile is Spanish, their wine typically has a very French flair. When the Chilean people visited Europe, they fell in love with French wines and brought vines back with them. This helped Chile become a repository for French grape varieties that ended up being hard hit in Europe by phylloxera. Which leads me to the second really interesting thing about Chile. The country has never been hit with an outbreak of phylloxera so as a result the grapes are not grafted onto more resistant rootstocks.

The Casas del Bosque Sauvignon Blanc shows that French influence. It smelled of grass and tasted of piquant grapefruit that was so initially strong that I said, “GRAPEFRUIT!” when Kevin asked me what I thought of it. In all fairness, while the citrus flavor it was strong it did give way to raspberry and a slightly tart (under ripe) peach. Overall it was very pleasant and I would go out of my way to find it again.

What I was drinking

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor


What do you think? We were celebrating. And nothing says celebration more than Champagne!

This one, The Ernest Rapeneau Champagne was interesting.

The color was more gold than champagne. The flavor more bitter.

Sadly, we didn’t limit ourselves to this single bottle.

We drank everything fizzy in the wine fridge. There weren’t that many… but they are all gone.

Ironically the cheapest was the best. But then I have always been partial to Cava.

Thank you Freixenet!

What is next?

I may not be able to drink the wine for the next 5 weeks but that doesn’t mean that I can’t think about it constantly, right?

That being said, I have gone ahead and purchased supplies to vint (is that even a word?) some more wine.

I have purchased two additional kits from The Home Brewery in Ozark, Missouri. The first is a Spanish Rose. Yes, I am making pink wine. You have an issue with that? You can take it up with someone else. This is a blend of Tempranillo and some sort of white. I love French Roses from Provence and had some amazing roses at the ENYE wine tasting last week, which I will be writing about in the near future. So this is a perfect choice for me. Sophie will be naming this wine. Or it will be named Sophie Bear in her honor.

The second wine I will be making will be Chilean Carmenere. I have had this type of wine before and loved the story of a wine called, Ooops! Carmenere is the lost Grape of Bordeaux. It turns out that in Chile the grapes that were traditionally viewed as Merlot were really Carmenere… or essentially.. a Bordeaux grape that all but disappeared after phylloxera ravaged France. Anywho! The point is that is wine number two that I will be making. And it will be named by Celia. She is, naturally, thrilled to tears at the honor that I am bestowing on her.

Now I just need the materials to arrive.

Can She Do It?

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

I am about to undertake a challenge the likes of which no wine blogger has ever undertaken.

I am about to give up wine for Lent.

Why? I have precious few moments left in my children’s lives to teach them about sacrifice and faith…

Plus, it requires me to exercise some creativity.

Lent is only 40 days, right? And with Aunt Maggie. I only have to write half of those, right? Piece of cake!

Look! I have written this post without talking about wine at all.

Now the only question is… CAN I DO IT!? Or will I will be experiencing the DTs by Saturday?

Oy. It sucks be a Catholic Mama. Gentlemen? Place your bets!

Pink Bubbles

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Pink wine has always had an image problem. In the old days (and maybe I am the only one old enough to remember) there was Lancers. A Portuguese wine in a funky bottle.

Then there was white Zinfandel. A sweet pink wine for old ladies, women who want to look klassy by ordering wine and as part of a hot summer day’s guilty pleasure. But virtually no one admits to liking it.

White Merlot fell into that same category. White became the new pink…

But really, pink has been screwed over.

Why? Well, most of it is dry, fruity and the best are on the edge of effervescent anyway. Which is why I present to you the final sparkling wine from my birthday dinner.

Albert Sounit Caprice Rose

This wine is made in the Cotes d’Or region of Burgundy of Pinot Noir and Gamay grapes.. The most masculine rose you can find. By definition? A Cremant de Bourgogne.

Though at this point, if you think that pink wine is for girls, all I can say is “Grow Up!”