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.

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