Sunday, April 22, 2018

VaLa Vineyards Continues to Impress - Everyone! (PA)

So I was traveling to Washington DC with a good friend of mine, David Falcheck, and we decided on planning our trip to stop somewhere along the way and visit a winery or two. David is the Executive Director at American Wine Society. He had never been to one of my favorite haunts - VaLa Vineyards! I texted the incredibly gifted Anthony Vietri, and asked him if we could stop by, since it was a day they were normally closed. He was incredibly gracious as always!

Anthony is a growing figure on the east coast wine scene. He is hermit like, in that he rarely eaves the confines of his vineyards at VaLa, in southern Pennsylvania, and he rarely travels outside of his large family circle. Yet, he is a gardener and viticulturalist extraordinare! All of Anthony's wines are blends, and almost all are Northern Italian varieties.

Anthony's family has been in the United States for more than a century, and his roots are on display at the winery. 

The first wine we tasted with local cheese and honey was the amber-hued 2013 La Prima Donna white wine. It comes in at a whopping 14.4% alcohol, and you barely taste the alcohol. It is a blend of tocai, malvasia bianca, fiano, pinot grigio, petit manseng. This rich, layered, textured white wine has dried apricot and peaches, fresh apple, and hints of pineapple an tropical fruits. The vines are 18 years old, and the wine is aged 17 months on the skins (sulle bucce in Italian, i.e sur lies). It's done in small batches, then blended, and was bottle aged for 10 months before release. An incredible wine.

The next wine was the 2015 SILK with an alcohol of 14.5%. Silk is a dark rosato made from corvina veronese, barbera, nebbiolo, carmine, petit verdot, etc. It is the color of a dark rose or a light pinot noir. It is filled with flavor and richness usually not accustomed to the category. Bright raspberry, cherry, and fresh blackberry offset lovely notes of cedar and dark wood. Lovely for tuna steak, poultry, pork chops or salad, this is the perfect lunch wine. This wine is what lazy afternoons in summer were made for. Wonderful. 

The 2015 VaLa Castana is a blend medium bodied red, a resulting blend of Barbera, Carmine, and Petit Verdot, etc. It is an immensely impressive wine with a combination of light and dark fruit. Highlights include young raspberries and bing cherry, alternating with a brambly dark blackberry, tinged with wood and vanilla. An impressive red wine for any region, Castana is among my favorites.

Anthony was very generous and treated us to a bowlful of his mother's sauce. OMG was this incredible. With the cheese and the light pasta and the wine, it felt like a sunny day in Tuscany!

The Farmer VaLa himself.

Then came the grandaddy of all east coast wine, Mahogany. It is hard to prepare someone for what their first taste of Mahogany will be. If there was a First Growth classification of the east coast, VaLa Mahogany would asbolutely be on it! This 2015 VaLa Mahogany did not disappoint. This rich wine, dar in color, with notes of dark cherry, dark raspberry and bramble, is the reuslting blend of malvasia nera, barbera, sagrantino, carmine, lagrein, charbono, teroldego, petit verdot. This wine is absoluetly one of the best Italian reds you will ever drink! Astounding!  

As you can imagine, David was an immediate convert. Anyone I have ever sent there usually is.

Always sad to leave VaLa, but always satisfied and thrilled at the experience! YOU MUST GO TO VaLa!