Saturday, August 22, 2009

Vietri on Va La's La Prima Donna: 'Our initial goal was to create a white wine with some richness and complexity'

If you've read this blog you know the respect I have for Anthony Vietri and the work he and his staff are doing at Va La Vineyards in Avondale, Pa., as far as I'm concerned a must-see of wineries in suburban Philly. Asked Anthony on Friday what was going on in the cellar and he said that they just bottled the 2008 La Prima Donna, the 2008 Zafferano, and our 2008 Silk. All will be released at different times next spring, he noted.

I asked about La Prima Donna, a distinctive blend of grapes you mostly haven't heard of: Malvasia bianco, friuliano, viognier, pinot grigio and petit manseng. Wine writer/critic Roger Morris and esteemed foodie/critic Craig LeBan of the Philly Inquirer have put their stamp of approval on the wine. Wrtoe Morris, for Sommelier Magazine: “La Prima Donna…is perhaps the best east coast table wine that I have ever tasted — a beautiful blossom of aromas, exotic and spicy flavors of green figs, nectarines, with a crisp finish.” And LeBan wrote: “A flamboyant, showy white, with layers of aromatic grapes…that dance exotic on the palate.”

I asked Vietri to shoot me an e-mail with his thoughts about what he has tried to do with that blend and wine, and he sent me the following: "I actually first got the notion of wanting to create this wine when I was living with a family of fishermen in Campagne," he said. "I had made white wines with my family since I was a boy, but I wanted to do something different. The wines of that coastal region inspired me, and I wanted to take their ideas a few steps further. When we started this vineyard our initial goal was to create a white wine with some richness and complexity, and to have those elements come strictly from the grapes themselves, and without the aid of oak, so that the wine would directly translate our vineyard to the glass. When we taste it we smile and say 'that's our vineyard.' It is a horribly antiquated way to look at things, but it is now in its now in its ninth version, believe it or not."

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