Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Va La ready for sounds of 'play ball'

My 400th post. Thank you for all those who have returned my calls and given me your time during these past 11 months. I was reminded of that again today, placing a call to a Maryland winery that I'm sure would have found a minute to answer questions about its new red wine if had been Wine Spectator or Eric Asimov of the New York Times or, well, maybe even if they knew it was Gary Vaynerchuk. Congrats to all who have been talking wine and swilling the juice long, long before I came on the scene. As for a red wine called The Red Door, maybe I'll be surprised and get the call back tomorrow.

One person who has provided substantial help and support to this blog has been Anthony Vietri of Va La Vineyards, whose winemaking is surpassed only by his sense of humor. You've seen snippets of its in this blog before. Where is Va La? Well, according to his site, "Va La World Corporate Headquarters are located on RT 41 (Gap Newport Pike) in Historic Brandywine Valley, home to high sewer and school taxes, and right smackin the heart of the Mushroom Capital of the World. As the place to see and be seen, we invite you to come and experience the whole Avondale scene, the latest in farm fashions and celebrity watching, gossip, and culture from the world of Avondalia . . . "

In that world Vietri says he is content, "just living the life." For sure, the start of the baseball season can't come soon enough. But between now and then there's some pruning to do and several wines to release (the Zafferano, a cold-fermented 100 percent Pinot Grigio; and the Patina, a blend of red grapes that 98 percent of the American population probably has never heard of: Primitivo, Malvasia Nera, Charbono and Teroldego). Typical of most of Va La's vintages, between the small size of the vineyard and the amount of grapes they drop to improve the quality of the yield, what remains won't last long. In the case of the latter, the medium-bodied Patina has been aging in one barrel and will fill about 600 bottles. Anthony, the Philies would have gone through that amount by the end of the night that they clinched their title.

But there are more bottles to fill this month, some with the esteemed red called Mahogany and others with another red that the winery calls Cedar. Says the Web site: The intention of this wine was to createa Pietmontese-inspired, age-worthy red grown here in our region, to match to the flavors of wild game, local mushrooms,and other gifts of the forest. Four clones of nebbiolo and corvina veronese. Total production normally ranges from one to three barrels."

He also plans to bottle another mix of red grapes, all 2006 vintage, called Castana (which means chestnut in Italian), a blend of Barbera, Nebbiolo and Corvina that he says he's put together before, just not commercially. "I did that one back before we launched with our first vintage," he said. "I did a little experimenting with that one and it went over well, so we decided now and then that we'll mess with it when the year's right . . ."