I thought our tour of Fattoria La Vialla was both an interesting complement to our Bucchia Nera tour, and an interesting source of comparison to it. As a complement, we got to see the cellars and learn about the oaking and aging process, which filled in the next steps after the fermentation process that we talked about at Bucchia Nera. I was really interested in their use of different barrels of varying sizes, materials, and levels of burning on the inside to manipulate how the wine changes as it is aged. The coolest part of the tour was probably trying wine straight from the barrel. The white we tried was probably my favorite white so far. I’ve discovered over the course of this class that I definitely prefer reds, but that white was better to me than any we’d had up to that point. The red (Chianti) we tried was interesting. I really liked it, but it was very dry. When they said that wine had another year or so of aging to go, we had a really interesting conversation about how it may become sweeter by then because it may not be done with malolactic fermentation. That was surprisingly exciting, getting to apply our knowledge from class in an unexpected way like that.
As far as comparison, I noticed that both places started their tours by telling us what made each winery special or individual. Ironically, both claimed to be special because they were organic. La Vialla went the extra mile though, describing all the other farming and ranching processes that they run, and their biggest claim to individuality, their high quality unfiltered wine, was particularly fascinating. They argued that it protected the wine from oxidation, which let them use less sulfur as long as they kept the wine dry. The wines we tried were unfiltered, and I think that may be part of why I liked them better than the previous wines I’ve had. The presence of lees seemed to help cut the alcoholic bite enough that I could actually taste some vanilla and cinnamon in the white, which is more than I’ve managed so far. I had a similar experience with the Chianti; I detected pepper and even some tomato, which seemed unusual. Although this winery seemed a bit less prepared to host us – they selected wines for us as we were there and their vinter wasn’t available for long to talk to us – I actually enjoyed it overall more than I did the previous tour.