Va La Cedar 2009
The fifth vintage of Va La Cedar, a blend of five clones of Nebbiolo with some Corvina, has recently been released (Jan 2014). Va La’s Nebbiolo – a grape known for being extremely difficult to grow – is famously influenced by “the ghost”, a steamy fog that emanates from a nearby compost lot and drifts over the vineyard, moderating the temperature and helping the grape live up to its name (which is derived from the Italian word nebbia, meaning fog).
Grapes were harvested by hand in November of 2009, a vintage Vietri described as “horrendous.” Efforts were made to thin every grape cluster that wasn’t “perfectly ripe,” so production matched only about a third of a typical year, he estimated. The wine was then aged for 27 months in barrels, then an additional 20 months in bottles before release.
Jeff and I tasted a sample last spring. It was quite tannic, as one would expect from a pre-release wine, but it also showed signs of something special. The rich nose evokes the name – cedar – as well as tobacco and underlying earth. As it opens, the wine manages to bridge a gap between bold and elegant, something to be expected from Piedmont Nebbiolo, but not typically PA.
Overall, this is a very nice Nebbiolo that will only get better with time. Vietri suggests a 12-24 hour decant for near term drinking, or patient cellaring for 7-12 years to bring out the wine’s very best.
$55 while supplies last, very limited quantity available at the winery in Avondale. 1 bottle per family limit.