When planning these winery trips I check to see what events are happening beforehand. Across the board, an almost unanimous theme for this weekend was “Wine & Chocolate”. It seems that Valentine’s Day is as much a boon for the wine industry as it it for florists. I know that most guys write off Valentine’s as a meaningless Hallmark holiday but women eat this stuff up. Wine & chocolate? Are you kidding me? I’m in my wife’s good graces for at least a month.
Va La Vineyards is nestled on 7 acres in the middle of Chester County’s mushroom country. The wines here are of very limited quantity and are priced as such. As a relative newcomer to the winery world, I have not been to a vineyard outside of the PA/NJ region. Va La has gotten extremely good reviews from afficianados from all over and many feel that Va La is world class and a cut above all other wineries in the area. Is it the mushrooms? Who knows.
I made noon reservations at Va La for our small group of six. They had a special Valentine’s tasting for $25 that featured Neuchatel chocolate delicacies paired w/ 4 different “reserve” wines. This is a bit pricier than your typical tasting. There is a $10 tasting available which featured 3 wines minus the chocolate. As it was early in the day we managed to avoid the crowds and had a comfortable, exclusive tasting w/ our host Dave who was great. Here’s a breakdown of the wines that were offered:
La Prima Donna 2008 – A nice complex dry white that goes great w/ seafood or pasta & white sauce. There was a special truffel from Neuchatel that had a filling made from the La Prima Donna wine. Va La sends the wine over to Neuchatel and they get the custom truffles in return for the tastings and to sell in house.
Patina 2007 – This extremely small batch of wine (288 bottles) was aged in a single oak barrel for 24 months before bottling. A unique flavored red which is a blend of tempranillo, barbera, lagrein charbono & primitivo grapes. This was offered w/ chocolate covered potato chips, also from Neuchatel. Sound like an odd flavor combo? Trust me, you can’t eat just one.
Cinderbox 2008 – An earthy, rustico styled red that is made from the Carmine variety (A cross grape that includes Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon). A blend of grapes from the home vineyard and from a local farm were used to produce this wine. Goes great w/ red meats & sauces. Neuchatel made a special truffle for the Cinderbox as well.
Mahogany 2007 – This popular favorite is a staple of Va La. A blend of several red grapes (malvasia nero, barbera, charbono, sagrantino,
la grein, carmine, teroldego, petit verdot) is aged for 26 months in the barrel followed by 12 months in the bottle before release to the public. Va La actually has an “Aging cam” to keep progress on the Mahogany aging process. http://www.valavineyards.com/vala_webcam.html
The website is priceless. They have a great sense of humor over there.
Anyway, along with our wines (generous 2 ounce servings) and chocolates, Dave had different cheeses and roast chestnuts to round out the experience. Afterwards Michelle, Chip, Fran and I met w/ our friends Sheila and Debbie and we shared a few bottles upstairs in the artsy galleria. This is my 3rd or 4th visit to Va La and I have yet to be disappointed.