Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Best Tasting Room Experience We Have Ever Had

Now, again, I am not trying to brag. I am simply pointing out, aside from a lunch at Domain Chandon in Napa Valley, which is not really a tastingroom experince, Dominique and I have been to California (all over), Chile, France, eastcoast, Spain, and many other places, and what we experienced together in Avondale, PA mid- December 2006, was, without question, one of the best wine tastingroom experiences ever.

Va La is a small farm in Avondale, Chester County, consisting of a hillside cellar, seven acres of vines, and one family devoted to the creation of wine. Their passion is for creating wines made from rare varieties and unusual blends, from grapes grown entirely in Chester County. Their focus is on small-batch productions, of fruity and rustico style wines specifically designed to pair with foods.

The winemaker at Va La is Anthony Vietri (who owns it with his wife, Karen). Anthony told the September 2006 Sommelier magazine, “Terroir is sim-ple, and yet overwhelmingly limit-less as a concept,” he says. “For me, terroir is all the things that make up the environment in which a vine is grown,” and he lists many of the things that can go right or wrong in the vineyard. “I see all of these as separate,” he says, “and yet, all are intrinsically tied to each other. Tug on one, and they all tend to react.”

Va La Faimily Farmed Wines paired each taste of wine with spiced olive oils paired with fresh, rustica breads, and locally farmed artisan cheeses. We tried their white wine, La Prima Donna, with some extra virgin olive oil infused with rosemary and other spices. Another we tried with a fresh goat cheese dripping with honey. A red we tried was paired with a Spanish/Italian styled sharp cheese, which had a touch of crystalized sugar like a Red Cow Parmigiano. Each wine flourished, when paired with a food and made the tasting experince something absolutely incredible. I wanted to spend lots of money - on wine and cheese - and we did. Even Dominique wa moved to spend money - so you know it was worth while.

Some wine aficonados might blanch. Pairing any wine with food might enhance or detract from a person's ability to taste the wine itself. But I ould say, as an ameteur, that wine goes with food. And this expereince, taking the time to explain each wine, and parceling out morsels of cheese and bread, enhanced the overall experience ten fold.

I say to all the eastcoast wineries especially, as well as any other around the world, this is the new westcoast offense, the new black, the new it, when it comes to tastingroom expereince. Make sure you try it. You will not be sorry you did.

p.s. It also doesn't hurt that their wines, with or without food, are some of the best on the eastcoast. Long Island, Finger Lakes, Virginia, are you listening?

8820 Gap Newport Pike (RT 41)
Avondale, PA 19311

(photos of interiors and Karen's father courtesy us - sorry for poor quality)