Sunday, May 27, 2012

Wines of the Giro Stage 21: Oh Canada

A 30.1 km time trial in Milan to not just complete the race, but to decide the winner. Hard to imagine an ending that could be more fun. Well, except Basso in pink and Cavendish in red. That said, I'm hoping for a Hesjedal victory in the race and Phinney for the stage. The facts before the start of the day:
Joaquim Rodriguez leads Ryder Hesjedal by 31 seconds, with Michele Scarponi and Thomas De Gendt lurking in the background at 1.51 and 2.18. 
The first surprise of the day: road conditions have led to today’s course to be shortened by nearly 2 kilometers. It will now be run over 28.2km instead of the originally scheduled 30km.
The second surprise, and not a good one, was Taylor Phinney's lead bike making a big mistake. From Twitter:
nealrogers 5:24am via Web
Crushing that Phinney's been slogging over mountains thinking of this Milan TT, only to have lead moto miss turn & take him off course #giro
And later:
nealrogers 6:38am via Web
Phinney: "I don't think it's worth trying to estimate how much time I lost. At the end of the day, shit happens. It's bad luck." #giro

That done it was time to wait for the gc contenders. And they made it exciting. Ryder Hesjedal became the first Canadian rider to win a grand tour when he finished 47 seconds ahead of overnight leader Joaquim Rodríguez to claim the Giro d'Italia title by a mere 16 seconds.

A picture is worth a thousand words #ryderhesjedal #Giro #Victory

Stage: Marco Pinotti
Final GC:
  1. Ryder Hesjedal, Garmin-Barracuda
  2. Joaquim Rodriguez, Katusha, at 0.16
  3. Thomas De Gendt, Vacansoleil, at 1.39
  4. Michele Scarponi, Lampre, at 2.05
  5. Ivan Basso, Liquigas, at 3.44
  6. Damiano Cunego, Lampre, at 4.40


Zuliani Garda Classico DOC Groppello Riserva

From the producer, with some help from Google translate:
Zuliani's family is among the most ancient and glorious families of Valtenesi. Historical sources say that this family was already present in Venice in 741 AD where he held high offices of state. Was the wealthy who shunned the din of political and social activity, preferring the tranquility of rural living, where the growing interest in research and study of the arts and sciences. The Zuliani were defined Homini of great intellect and just maybe because of their nature shy and withdrawn, this clan was born, over the centuries, with the most eminent astronomers, doctors, painters, sculptors, military and chemicals.

Son of the oldest wine-making tradition Valtenesi Groppello is made from grapes coming from the vine to 90% - considered a rarity in the wine grown only in Valtenesi-and 10% from Marzemino. In the range of wines of Lake Garda is one of the emblematic products of the area. Our Company reserves special treatment to this wine carefully selecting the grapes, the harvest is the correct maturation of the grapes, paying particular attention to the health of the cluster and in particular to the skin - the main source of the scent and taste characteristic of this type of grape. The fermentation on the skins lasts about 20-25 days, then proceed to the separation of the wort slowly decanting wine.

two years with effect from November 1 of the year the grapes of which at least three months in bottle
Ruby red color with garnet, intense and spicy sweet spices, rich taste, soft and enveloping, with a good consistency, a slightly tannic with almonds.
Tasty dishes of meat and processed, roasted venison and Brescia.

I say:
And we have the final Giro wine of 2012. Red berries, mineral notes and tannins. Smooth. In honor of Ivan Basso perhaps I should say tranquilo?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Wines of the Giro Stage 20: Stelvio and Marzemino
Caldes/Val di Sola to Passo dello Stelvio
Stage type: High Mountain
Length of the course: 219 KM

From Podium Cafe (and there is a lot more to their preview that you should read):Stage 20 runs from Cales/Val di Sole to the summit of the Passo dello Stelvio. To reach the finish, the riders must climb five significant passes: Passo del Tonale, the Aprica, Teglio, Passo di Mortirolo, and the massive Passo dello Stelvio. The stage runs 219 kilometers and will be a long day out for even the top riders. Spare a thought for the sprinters' gruppetto, as they will have a hard job of it to make it to the summit of the Stelvio in time.

And here we go. From twitter a good look at the road ahead (click the link):
EuroHoody 5:40am via Twitter for iPhone
Nice view on the Stelvio; wicked climb -glad I did it in a Peugeot (not much faster) #giro
 The break is established, with most of the favorites having teammates ahead to help later in the day In the maglia rosa group, Rodriguez decided to test his rivals:
TeamSky 5:57am via Web
Rodriguez in the maglia rosa attacks on the Mortirolo! Huge move with Hesjedal and Scarponi following! #Giro

But it went nowhere and the group stayed together. Ahead, Zaugg went out alone.  
With about 40 k to go and the Stelvio looming they remained together. 

37 km to go: Zaugg on the front > De Gendt, Carrara, Cunego, Losada at 2'27 > Gruppo Maglia Rosa 5'49'' #giro

The De Gendt move is causing some concern Das he is 5:40 down on GC and he's riding into a very strong position. After catching Zaugg, the group is 7 including Cunego and Amador. However, Christian VandeVelde had dropped back as planned from the early break and came to the front of the favorites group to push the pace. 
With the Stelvio climb looming the gaps are:
giroditalia 7:08am via Web
25 km to go: on the front Cunego, De Gendt, Zaugg, Amador, Kangert, Izaguirre with 3'33'' #giro

Eurosport tells us that "if you have not made a cup of tea, it is too late. There is no tea time now." Otherwise put, drama expected ahead. With about 15 km to go, an incredible effort by Christian Vande Velde (VdV) has the maglia rosa group down to around a dozen riders and the gap at 3:33.
Very impressive, Vdv.

So the favorites continued on together. Meanwhile, ahead, DeGent lost a new attack. Would he put in enough time to change the podium? In the end, maybe.
De Gendt pushed his lead out to five and a half minutes, nearly his entire deficit to the maglia rosa, before tiring a bit at the end and holding on for a one-minute win over Damiano Cunego and 3.22 over race leader Joaquim Rodriguez and 3.36 over challenger Ryder Hesjedal. Rodriguez did his usual escape in the final km as he gained a mere 14 seconds on Hesjedal and holds a shaky 31" lead heading into the itt tomorrow.
Tomorrow will not be dull.

Stage: De Gendt
Pink: Rodriguez
  1. Rodriguez
  2. Hesjedal, at 0.31
  3. Scarponi, at 1.51
  4. De Gendt, at 2.18
  5. Ivan Basso, Liquigas, at 3.18
  6. Cunego, at 3.43
  7. Uran, at 4.52
  8. Domenico Pozzovivo, Colnago, at 5.47

Wine: Costaripa 'Mazane' Garda Marzemino 2010
From the importer:

Single-vineyard, 100% Marzemino (an ancient native red vine yielding small crops of distinct elegance), now DOC!  Refraining from oak élevage enhances the variety's ripe red fruit flavors, crispness and fragrance.  Intense ruby in color, the bouquet jumps out of the glass, recalling marasca cherries, strawberries and violets, with notes of honey, penny royal and lemon verbena.  On the palate, the soft tannins, pulpy fruit flavors and balance make it easy to understand why Marzemino was such a Mozart favorite (...the "eccellente Marzemino" in Don Giovanni).
GRAPES: 100% Marzemino
Hillside vineyards in the Valtenesi, bordering Lake Garda; glacialed, morainic, clayey/calcareous soil with a predominance of clay, with a near-Mediterranean climate; Guyot training and small crops characteristic of the variety
Grapes are severely selected in the vineyard, + classically vinified in red; exclusively evolves in stainless steel, so as to fully maintain the fragrance, crispness and freshness of its aromas + flavors, reminiscent of ripe red fruit;
Intense ruby red in color, with characteristically fragrant aromas of ripe fruit (marasca cherries, strawberries) and violets; ample, very appealing; excellent balance & seductive roundness on the palate
In youth (within the first year from harvest), the wine's silky tannins and lively fragrance make it an extraordinary match with fish when served rather cool (13-16° C, i.e. 55.4-60.8° F)

I say:  A grape I don't really know at all. Like the pelaverga from a few days back, a very easy drinking red. Ripe fruit and violets indeed, along with a very welcome acidity.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Wines of the Giro Stage 19

Treviso to Alpe de Palpeago
  • Stage type: High Mountain
  • Length of the course: 198 KM 
Is today the day that the Gro will be won (or lost) or is that tomorrow? Anyway, I have been anticipating today's stage for a long time now.
From Steephill: Although this stage hasn't received the same build up as Saturday's Stage 20 summit finish on Passo dello Stelvio, it should prove to be the most important stage of the race in deciding the general classification.
Starting from Treviso, a frequent Giro host, we'll head north for a return visit to the Dolomites. The amount of climbing for Stage 19 is comparable to the previous Dolomites stage, Stage 17, but the climbs on this stage are even steeper.
Besides having five categorized climbs of cat 2 or higher, the most of any stage in this year's race, one of the climbs, Passo Manghen at km 123, is comparable in length and grade to Passo dello Stelvio. Passo Manghen is slightly shorter, but a little steeper.
After Passo Manghen, the race heads to Alpe di Pampeago, a ski resort climb that will be used for the fourth time since 1999 as a finishing climb. But unlike previous editions, Alpe di Pampeago will be climbed twice as part of a finishing circuit. 

And here we go. The morning breakaway is particularly large today and moving along well.
giroditalia 5:44am via Twitter for Mac
Maglia Rosa group is now at 8'16'' with 80 km to go

Early today, the grupetto has formed. From twitter, yesterday:
So Bernie Eisel has just calculated a guess at the time-limits for the next 2 stages. In doing so, he's added we'll do 11,000m vertically.

Eisel has the job of shepherding Cavendish through the mountains and calculating their necessary speed to make it in before the time cut.

It turns out that even Star Wars characters are excited about the stage today:
Chewbacca is at the Giro! / Chewbacca è al Giro! (via @mmmaiko)

Meanwhile back in the maglia rosa group of favorites, as they neared the oh so curvy descent, Liquigas was at the front, a phrase one could say on every non-sprinting day of this Giro. And down they went, the GC group all making it down safely, although ahead Robbie Hunter went off the road, though he did get back on his bike. With just over 50km left, the gap had been cut to 4:35. Liquigas trivia of the day: they travel with a refrigerated food truck. And, hey, a pink bunny!

And then, well things got interesting. Because I was watching most of the actions from my phone, yelling for Basso to ride faster, I defer to the folks at  Podium Cafe:
With 2.5km to go the favorites came unglued, with Hesjedal the aggressor. From there, he and Scarponi put small gaps into Rodriguez and Basso, with the former looking like he might close it up and the latter looking like he might crumble. Hesjedal continually looked back at his rivals' faces, digging deeper each time to press his advantage. He was in sight of Kreuziger, but the Czech climber and former GC hopeful was holding it together and got his deserved victory. Scarponi suffered badly in the final km and lost Hesjedal's wheel, while Purito and Basso more or less held their pace, with Rodriguez coming past a faltering Scarponi right at the line.
Rodriguez survives, and there is a chance tomorrow he will best the other climbers, but he didn't confirm his ownership of this Giro. If anything, with a time trial looming, he put himself in deeper jeopardy of surrendering that lead, possibly at the last moment, and has only tomorrow to win or lose this race. With only 17 seconds over Hesjedal, he has to gain time over the BC native en route to the massive Stelvio or he almost surely will not win.
Tomorrow: The Stelvio

Stage: Roman Kreuziger
Pink: Rodriguez

Wine: Roccolo Grassi 2008 Valpolicella Superiore

From the importer:
Roccolo Grassi is the name of the Estate’s most important vineyard.  The estate is run by Marco Sartori, a trained oenologist, and his sister Francesca, and located on the La Broia vineyard site. In addition to the vineyards in the Valpolicella area, the estate also owns vineyards in the Soave D.O.C., just to the east. This allows them to produce both red and white wines. The estate owns 13 hectares, all organically farmed. Nine hectares are dedicated to red varietals and the remaining three are perfectly suited for the estate’s whites.
The Region
The Veneto region is divided between inland mountains and the expansive plains near the Adriatic Sea. It is Italy's leader in the production of classified wine. The Valpolicella D.O.C. stretches from the foothills of the Mont Lessini to the Soave D.O.C. about eleven miles west of Verona. The cooling breezes off of the Adriatic sea and Lake Garda help to tame the summer heat while the mountains provide a natural barrier to the freezing
winds of winter. The Soave D.O.C., which actually means 'suave' in Italian, was created in 1968, the same year as the Valpolicella D.O.C.  Differences in soil explain why these neighboring D.O.C.s grow different varietals.  At Roccolo Grassi, the hilly vineyards consist of volcanic soil and is where the red grape varieties are grown: Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Croatina. On calcareous soil at 100 meters altitude, the white grape variety Garganega is grown.
The Wines
Roccolo Grassi is known for its wonderful Amarone, Valpolicella, Soave and their two Reciotos. These varietals are traditional of the region. The estate makes their wine with a combination of new and old world techniques.  The estate plants all traditional Italian varietals.  Most of their vines are ten to forty years old.  Vinification is more innovative and new technology is used to control temperatures and create ideal conditions during fermentation and the vinification process.  The wine is aged carefully in selected large French bariques and some Slovenian oak casks. 

The Wine Enthusiast liked it:
A hugely extracted and super rich wine, this Valpolicella Superiore opens with barbecue smoke, spicy salsa, cola, licorice and freshly ground coffee bean. It’s bold, rich and long-lasting on the close.

I say: I've had really good wines for this year's Giro.  Today though, well, this is what can happen when I get a recommendation from someone I don't know. It is not that the wine is bad, but it is not for me. Too young? Quite possibly. Not enough air? Again, possible. (Note: very possible as it was much better a few hours later.) At $39.00, this should not be towards the bottom of my favorites from this year's wine of the Giro. Food helped, but this was one that I was happier tasting briefly before returning to yesterday's rosato. Which, by the way, continues to delight on day two.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wines of the Giro Stage 18: Bressan Rosantico
 San Vito di Cadore to Vedalgo
Stage type: Flat
Length of the course: 149 KM

And we are sprinting again which seems kind of odd in the last few days of a Grand Tour. Was this stage designed to keep the sprinters from heading home early? If so, it failed as very few remain. Or perhaps it is another riding rest day for the GC contenders before things head back up into the mountains?  
Either way, the main question today: Can Mark Cavendish win the stage and with it enough points to possibly keep the red (points) jersey at the end of the race. Otherwise, his decision to stay in the race rather than abandon to train for the Tour and the Olympics will be even more questioned. It even came up during the Eurosport broadcast. Let us just say that Sky wanted the points for Cavendish enough to chase down the break for intermediate sprint points rather than letting them hang out a few minutes for the day.
Pert twitter:
TeamSky 6:22am via Web
The gap to the break has plummeted at the #Giro with @TeamSky massed on the front. There's an intermediate sprint coming up. Cav wants it!

Sure enough, Cav took the points easily. It made a possibly dull stage a bit more exciting than one would have thought. Then it was time to see what new break would form and whether or not Sky could keep control to ensure a sprint finish.And they did. But Cav did not take the stage. My cursing as I watched on our walk to school even cost me a dollar in "bad language" fine. Not a happy stage for me or Sky.

Stage: Andrea Guardini
Maglia Rosa:
GC: unchanged

Wine: Bressan Rosantico
From the importer:
Region: Venezia Giulia IGP, Farra d'Isonzo (GO), Friuli, Italy

From a vineyard of  2.3 acres a mere 2000 bottles of this incredible rose' of Moscato Rosa dry are produced.   Grown and harvested from mass selected vines that Bressan brought back to life, this is the only of their wines that doesn’t see any oak just stainless steel, concrete and of course  indigenous yeast and long stirring on fine lees.  A symphony of rose scents comes out from the glass yet in the mouth is warmth, elegance with notes of rose petals bergamot Indian spices and linden tree.

I'd suggest taking a look at this post on Dobianchi. 

I say:K saw me pour this wine and said "That rosé is orange and not pink." I don't know if I would go that far, but there is a rather salmon tint. My first moscato rosé. Having had a moscato recently, the nose was familiar: bold and floral. On the palate it is dry, with a lot of body. It is a wine that asked for focus and attention and got it. Another one that I would like to revisit.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wines of the Giro Stage 17!--%20[an%20error%20occurred%20while%20processing%20this%20directive]%20%20--%3E
Falzes/Pfazlen to Cortina d'Ampezzo
Stage type: High Mountain
Length of the course: 186 KM

I hope the peloton enjoyed the rest day Monday and the virtual rest day yesterday because today is a doozy. 

From Cycling Weekly:
It's a day in the Dolomites for the Giro, and what a day it is. Four monster climbs await the bunch on a day of serious ups and downs.
Both climbing and descending skills will be tested to the limit on the twisting roads to Cortina d'Ampezzo.
The one saving grace to the GC men is that the final mountain of Passo Giau peaks well before the stage finish, giving a small chance for daring descenders to catch any escapees before the line.

An early start today. This is the sort of day that would have a climber dreaming of the maglia rosa. For the other riders, it is a matter of survival.
From Mark Cavendish:
MarkCavendish May 22, 1:48pm via Twitter for iPad
The stage profile for tomorrow. Oh shit.

At least, I suppose the weather had improved, just in time for me to start dreaming of a vacation in the Dolomites. As always, cue a break. With about 68 km left, the five breakaway riders were still together but their lead was down to 2:42 with Liquigas at the front setting tempo for their GC hope, Ivan Basso. The peloton was shrinking rapidly, but all of the favorites were still together. I always feel for the riders falling off the back. They have lost their hope of stage glory, but to stay in the race have to climb within the time limit, something that can be very challenging on a day like today. 
More from twitter:
Liquigas slowly riding into the maglia rosa. Like a perverse game of Chinese water torture. #giro

With about 40 km to go, we saw some weakness from Roman Kreuziger, as he slipped back with Liquigas continuing to ride at the front. Finally, after hours of anticipation the "hard-pedaling" Szmyd moves to the front. Cue Jaws music. But then a puncture! A change would be necessary to their plan. Up they went until, finally there were six:  Basso, Scarponi, Ryder, Pozzovivo, Uran. Rodriguez, with a lot of glances around to check on their rivals. Eventually Basso, Pozzovivo, Rodriguez and Ryder reached the top together. Time for a really fast descent. Could Scarponi get back? Indeed he did and Uran as well so we were back to our group of six. Almost immediately Basso attacked but was chased down. At the line, Basso tried but but Rodriguez came around him and to take the win.
Tomorrow a sprint stage. 
Stage: Joaquim Rodriguez
Maglia rosa: Joaquim Rodriguez

Wine: 2010 Cantina Valle Isarco Kerner

From the producer:
The Kerner variety is a Schiava and Riesling hybrid created in Weinsberg (Germany) around 1930. It prefers the light, gravelly and sandy soils of the higher altitude, sunny hillsides of the mid Valle Isarco. Despite their late ripening period, these grapes provide a highly acclaimed full-bodied and tasty wine.
MEAN ANNUAL OUTPUT 80,000 bottles
PRODUCTION AREA Chiusa, Velturno, Bressanone, Funes, Renon
ALTITUDE 600–800 m
VINTAGE TIME beginning – middle of October, hand–picked
CHARACTERISTICS dry, fresh white wine
COLOUR straw–yellow with greenish hues
NOSE intense, aromatic
TASTE dry, full, aromatic, with light scent of muscat
MATCHINGS light hors d’oeuvres, cold meats, egg or mushroom dishes, poached freshwater fish and shellfish; an excellent aperitif

I say:  Another day in Alto Adige means another unusual white.  Very pale. Ripe fruit and floral at the start, but soon minerality dominates.Wiuld not have guessed 14.5%.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wines of the Giro Stage 16: Nusserhof Blaterle

Limone sul Gardo to Falzes/Pfalzen
Medium Mountain
Trentino-Alto Adige
From the Cycling Weekly:
With yesterday's second and final rest day done and dusted, it's back down to business with some more climbing. 
It's uphill all the way with a couple of small lumps to interrupt the cadence. Teams who have thus far not won anything in the 2012 race will be eager to send riders up the road to form an escape group and get some badly needed TV airtime.
If today's winner doesn't come from an escape group, we'll eat our laptop.

Cue the break: De Marchi, Frank, Izagirre, Mazzanti, Bak, Maes,, Herrada Lopez, Clement, Brändle and Baoro. With 77 km remaining they were up to 7 minutes and the bunch seemed not very interested in chasing. But as we have seen before, this can all change very quickly.  Eurosport though, described today as "like another rest day. A lot of riders happy to take the downtime and ride along at a comfortable pace." Perhaps thinking of the hard days ahead?
The break only went out further from there, with over 10 minutes with 55 km remaining. In the bunch, no one appeared particularly concerned, as Herrada is best-placed on GC 32:26 back. Otherwise put, not a threat to any of the potential race winners.It is on days like this I feel for the announcers as there is very little action and a lot of air to fill. 
To make it clear, from twitter:
nyvelocity 7:47am via TweetDeck
Everybody in the Giro does realize there IS a finish today, right?

Stage:Jon Izagirre
Maglia Rosa: Joaquim Rodrigiez
GC:  unchanged

Wine: Nusserhof Blaterle
From the importer
The Nusserhof estate, consisting of 2.4 hectares of organic vineyards, lies directly beside the Isarco River facing south, practically in the center of the city of Bolzano. The warm climate and the deep alluvial soils, rich in eroded porphyry,  make this the perfect place to ripen grapes in northern Italy. Elda & Heinrich Nusser are the latest generation of their family to work this land where the records date back to at least 1788. The Nusserhof gets its name from the hazelnut trees that once lined the house on the river side.

Blatterle (the grape name has two t's) is an old white varietal, indigenous to the area, which nearly became extinct. The grapes are golden and oval shaped – the name itself means "little leaf" in German. At one time the grape was used to produce either sweet must (to be served with roast chestnuts), or a light white wine for quaffing. The Mayrs produce a more serious wine by reducing yields, soft pressing and temperature controlled fermentations. It's a wine that is very mouthfilling and easy. There is also a briny salinity to it. 

I say: I'm always pleased when the Giro comes to Alto Adige. I'm sure that bad wines from the region exist, but I have had very few. Pale. Flowers, herbs and apple, with the brine mentioned above. Their " a light white wine for quaffing" is very true.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Wines of the Giro Stage 15
From Steephill:
Although, this mountain stage ends in a summit finish like yesterday's Stage 14, Stage 15 is quite different. The climbing is spread over four categorized climbs in the Bergamo Alps that are shorter with steeper average grades. Sunday's climbs also undulate more on narrow, well-worn roads.
Starting from Busto Arsizio, we'll head east through the Lombardia region of Italy past the south ends of Lago di Como and Lago di Lecco. This area has a rich history with cycling and the Giro d'Italia; we'll start south of Varese and finish north of Bergamo and many professional riders live in this region of Italy including Ivan Basso. . . .
Like Stage 14, this stage is backloaded. The first 70 km out of Busto Arsizio are flat, then for the next 100 km there isn't a straight, flat road on the course as the race passes over the four categorized climbs. . . .
Although, Lecco is a host of this finish, the stage finishes with a climb to Piani Resinelli, a small hilltown just north of the city. The climb averages 7.8% over 7.8 km and features 15 switchbacks on a well-paved but narrow road.

And, our morning weather report from twitter:
Andrew Hood ‏@EuroHoody
Cold, wet, miserable; otherwise great day for racing if you’re from BC or Belgium; good for Ryder to defend
Also a few more riders either dnf (did not finish) or dns (did not start) including Schleck (a surprise), and Visconti.  
Today's morning breakaway report:
giroditalia 6:07am via Web
Recap: Rabottini > Bonnafond 1'30'' > Ulissi, Malori, Petrov, Pinotti, Pirazzi, Txurruka, Losada, Bruseghin, Carrar, Sella 5'25'' > Bunch 6'

Live video suffers from rain on the cameras, but through the blur there was lots of rain gear and many mini breaks. Eurosport suggested that the bad weather combined with poor road conditions for the last 100 km could cause problems ahead. "A filthy, foul day." Many riders went up the road to join the chasers, including Cunego and with 60 km remaining he was the virtual maglia rosa on the road. At that point, the chase with Cunego was 5’20" back from Rabbotini with the main peloton 9’40" behind.
With 27 km left, the foggy status seemed to be Rabbotini still at the front of the stage, a group of chasers 4 minutes back ad then the peloton at 7 minutes behind.
The descent lived up to Eurosport's prediction as Rabbotini went down, though was back up quickly. With 15 km to go, Rabbotini had 2:18 over the Cunego chasing group, with the peloton at 5.58 and gaps dropping rapidly. Indeed, with 3 km left he had only 1:23 over the chasing group, now minus Cunego. I had my fingers crossed that he would make it.
Meanwhile, behind, the attacks started in the favorites group. Joaquim Rodriguez simply took off, eventually catching Rabbotini and it looked like he would take both the stage and pink. But Rabbotini rallied and came around for the win, whether it was a gift or not is a question, but well deserved either way.  Behind, the favorites came in gradually, with changes to the GC. The grupetto finally made it in at 34:48 behind the day's winner. Tomorrow, they rest!

 Stage: Matteo Rabbotini
Pink: Joaquim Rodriguez
  1. Rodriguez
  2. Ryder Hesjedal, Garmin, at 0.30
  3. Basso, at 1.22
  4. Paolo Tiralongo, Astana, at 1.26
  5. Kreuziger, at 1.27

Wine: Castello di Luzzano Bonarda Frizzante - 2010 from Biondivino
From the importer
Region: Lombardia
Grapes: 100% Croatina 
Altitude: 690 ft
Soil: clay and marl  
Total production (btls): 24,000

Vinification: The grapes are crushed and destemmed before fermentation, which sees frequent remontage. A short secondary refermentation in pressure tanks to give the characteristic light sparkle precedes bottling at the beginning of March.
Ageing: In stainless steel for six months. 
I say: A sparkling red wine that reminds me of a sparkling red vinho verde that exploded on us in Portugal. An unusual combo of the frizzante and deep red, dry flavors that made for a great pizza wine. Also, a truly gorgeous label. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Wines of the Giro Stage 14
Up we go to the High Mountains! 

From SteephillAll the action on this stage is backloaded; the first 137 km of this 206 km stage after the start in Cherasco are almost entirely flat before two big mountains in the Italian Alps at the end.
The two climbs are the cat 1 Col de Joux at km 160 which is 22.4 km long with an average grade of 5.6% followed by the second summit finish of this year's race, the cat 1 Cervinia, which is quite similar (27 km at 5.5%). Both are long grinds and not overly steep by Italian standards which means you'll see riders slowly getting dropped off the back more than you'll see attacks on the front. In other words, this isn't the sort of stage that suits race leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) who likes the short, punchy climbs, but it's ideal for Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago) and Ivan Basso (Liquigas) to gain time. . . . 
An important consideration of this kind of double peak finish is the descent in between. In this case, the descent down to Châtillon is technical which means a break of good descenders could hold or extend their advantage leading up to the final climb.The finish at the ski resort in Cervinia at 2,006m (6,581 ft) elevation is at the foot of the Matterhorn, a famous, distintive peak and one of the highest in the Alps.

Off they go and in a hurry, completing the first 100 km in about 2 hours. Of course, that was the flat portion of the stage. The peloton was in rain gear and with the two climbs coming and few sprinting stages ahead, it was no surprise to wake up and hear that Goss and Renshaw had abandoned the race. Cavendish though, continued on, saying that he planned to finish the race. Nice behind the scenes photo feature here, by the way, of his day yesterday.
With 64 km left, the break had 13 minutes over the front of the peloton and twitter told me that the weather looked bad ahead:
Andrew Hood ‏@EuroHoody
It’s Belgian classics weather at top of Cervina; grey pea soup, 4C, raining, otherwise miserable #giro

With 54 km left, we had a lone leader, Jan Barta had 25 seconds over the four chasers: Montaguti, De Marchi, De Negri and Amador with Oliveira, Kaisen and Maes another minute down, with the peloton at 10 minutes. With 46 km to go and Liquigas  at the front of the peloton, Jose Rujano followed by Damiano Cunego attacked out of the group. Up ahead, we got our first look at the descent with Barta. And it was slow. Rujano looked like he was making great time on Cunego, until the descent, when Cunego inspired happy shots from Eurosport. Meanwhile. Amador flew by Barta to take the solo lead. The question seemed to be, on Eurosport and twitter:
TheDPate 6:46am via Web
How much longer will Amador stay on his bike?

But, he did and was the first to start on the second climb, followed by 4 chasers at 0:50, Cunego at 8 minutes back and the Peloton with the favorites 9 minutes back. To my delight, Amador held on to take the win, though it was far for a sure thing as he had been caught by two chasers from behind. Meanwhile in the favorites group, Ryder Hesjedal jumped from the bunch with about four kilometers to go and was not caught, gaining enough time to reclaim pink!

Stage: Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team 5:33:36
Pink:Ryder Hesjedal
1 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Barracuda 59:55:28
2 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 0:00:09
3 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:41
4 Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:01:05
5 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:01:06
6 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Astana Pro Team 0:01:07
7 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team
8 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:01:19
9 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:01:20
10 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox 0:01:21 

Wine: Ezio Voyat La Gazzella 2008 $29.99 at 67Wine

Though he made his living as an accountant for a casino, Ezio Voyat forged his legend as a producer of some of Italy’s most distinctive wines. His two Moscato, the dry La Gazzella, the red blend Le Muraglie and the sweet Ambrato are truly wines of place, slightly austere and aromatic with brisk acidity balancing concentration of flavor. Like the mountains from which they come these wines can be imposing and difficult to attain but with time and effort their mysteries unfold and their charms become a warm embrace. Voyat made wine in Chambave, a hamlet in the Valle d’Aosta, his modest house and cellar within walking distance of his several acres of hillside vineyard. Ezio Voyat died in 2003 leaving his wife and daughter to carry on his sizeable winemaking legacy. Voyat named his sleek (note the tall slender bottle) 100% Moscato after his daughter Marilena, Olympic sprinter and 1980s Italian track sensation, known to her fans as the "Gazelle." While most Italian Moscato is vinified sweet, the late Voyat made La Gazzella dry with an uncommon depth and structure.

I say: Well now. A very perfumed, kind of extravagant nose on this one.  In the mouth though, it is dry and fresh with some melon and flowers. Just fun. Makes me think of a muscat I was very fond of. Another great recommendation from Melissa and a perfect wine for a very fun stage of the race.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Wines of the Giro Stage 13
Savona to Cervere
Stage type: Flat
Length of the course: 121 KM

Podium Cafe says:
The stage profile has a few bumps early on, including a category 4 climb to Montezemolo. Inside 10 kilometers to race, there's a sharp uphill ramp. . . .
There is no descent from this final climb. Instead, the course climbs to a plateau and runs flat to the finish. That's bad news for the sprinters, because it means they can't slack on the climb and chase back on the descent. They'll have to put some muscle into this one, if they want to make it to the finish with the main field.
At just 121 kilometers, this stage is short, which will make it difficult for a breakaway to make much progress. They'll get out there just in time for the sprinters' teams to reel them back in. That stealthy uncategorized climb near the finish could offer a shot for someone feeling feisty to foil the sprinters. But it's a long-shot move, really. This one's for Cavendish, if Ferrari doesn't again spoil his party.

Long breakaway, check. Attempts to disrupt the sprinters' plans, check. But in the end: Cav!
EuroHoody 8:27am via web
Sublime victory by Cav; his best of Giro, came from 5th wheel to complete Giro hat-trick #giro

Stage: Mark Cavendish
Maglia Rosa: Joaquim Rodriguez

Why yes, I do write the stage numbers on the bottles.

Wine: Burlotto G.B. Comm. Verduno Pelaverga 2010 $19.99 at 67Wine

They say: Controlled Denomination of Origin D.O.C. 20/10/1995
This is a DOC classification limited to a small area of vineyards in the territories of Verduno and La Morra, promoted by today’s wine-makers with an aim similar to the one shown by Beato Valfrè (born in Verduno) two centuries ago.
The Pelaverga grapes ripen in a medium-late period: in the first ten days of October. The Pelaverga Piccolo grape variety is peculiar to this area and differs from the Pelaverga variety grown in the surroundings of Saluzzo.
Geographical distribution
The Pelaverga Piccolo variety is grown in a small area of the Alba district around Verduno (in the province of Cuneo).
Verduno Pelaverga
It is not to be confused neither with Pelaverga produced in the surroundings of Saluzzo (Pelaverga di Pagno) that in the area of Chieri is called Cari, nor with Pelaverga from Canavese. The wine, which contains at least 85% of Pelaverga Piccolo grapes, has a moderate alcohol content (minimum 11%), a colour not very intense with cherry or violet hues, a spicy aroma, an intense, fragrant, fruity bouquet, and a dry, snappy taste which is velvety and harmonious.

I say:  Spice, white pepper, berries, light ruby color. Fresh and very easy to drink. Makes me think of Beaujolais, in its "gulpability." And, of course, many have said that before.But this is one I will buy more of for summer and beyond.