Sunday, May 19, 2013

Wines of the Giro Stage 15: Domaine Belluard Le Feu & Visconti in the Snow
 Stage 15: One of the stages that fans have been eagerly anticipating since the route announcement last fall. At various times yesterday, rumors had it canceled, shortened or even postponed until Monday. Even last night, things were not certain due to both snow and avalanche risk. But as of this morning we were on with the course the same but without the last 4.25 km of the Galibier climb. 

From the Garibaldi: Short Alpine stage with two climbs in excess of 25 km. Descent from the stage start to Susa, where a ‘pedalable’ climb starts up the Colle del Moncenisio (25.7 km, 1.600 m gain in vertical height). Long descent interrupted by the short climb to Aussois (intermediate sprint). From St. Michel de Maurienne, 35 km 31km climb to the Col du Galibier, broken by the short descent to Valloire after the Col du Télégraphe.

The new stage profile:
From the Giro twitter feed:

My guess for the day is Vincenzo Nibali, but we shall see. I also have Evans, Betancur and Sanchez in the Stage Predictor Game

Also, France! Another reminder that the Wines of the Tour de France is looming. Suggestions very welcome.

Up early and the word was that the riders were angry about the conditions. Indeed:
TeamSky 5:31am via Web

The riders are all together heading up Mont-Cenis. Race in a neutralised state at the moment. 100km to go #Giro

 Many, of course, including my two of my favorites in the race, were not happy: yesterday:
Never want to feel again how I did yesterday! Totally empty. Lucky to have an amazing @opqscyclingteam & some great friends @taylorphinney.

What a miserable stage. Every rider who finished today deserves some sort of medal or trophy. #insertexpletivehere #giro

Things currently running through my mind: I hope we don't have to do Mont Cenis. Tomorrow is a rest day. That's about it...

Word came that the race was being neutralized on the climb by what appeared to be the riders' intent to show solidarity. Suggestions were that the pace had slowed because the riders had come to an agreement to take the first climb at a steady pace so that riders did not struggle with the time cut today. 
The neutralisation a reaction to the hellish day yesterday and the cold yesterday. A lot of riders suffering with colds and exhaustion.

RT @albertocelani Martinello reports the safetycar will be active till the descent of Moncenisio,then the fireworks can start #giro

So today we have pictures and no racing, yesterday lots of racing but no pictures. #giro

Prof Fagnani reports Radiocorsa forbidden the use of horn and it's possible the helycopter has been stopped in order to avoid noises #giro
albertocelani 5:53am via Twitter for iPad
Raitv reports have been exploded some bombs(TNT) on the mount in order to minimize avalanche risk #giro

I'd guess that the traditional roadside cowbells were still okay.
Meanwhile, back on the road there were attacks toward the top by riders in search of King of the Mountain points. Pirazzi took maximum points and then sat up. But others apparently looked to form a breakaway.
opqscyclingteam 6:15am via TweetDeck
Weening has gone off the front after the Mont Cenis KOM. 82.8km to go. 27" gap. #Giro

Behind Weening, Chalapud, Visconti, Rabottini, Borghini and Pirazzi were in a  chasing group. 
opqscyclingteam 6:32am via TweetDeck
67.8km to go, gap 27" to the chasers which have come back together, 2'52" to the maglia rosa group. #Giro

59 km to go: Gap for the break is 5' / 59 km al termine: il vantaggio dei fuggitivi è 5' #giro

And then a water bottle carrying motorcycle appeared on screen and I was mesmerized. Riders would come close and simply take a water bottle off the tray. The riders would probably prefer tea or brandy. 

Weening, Rubiano, Pirazzi, Bongiorno, Chalapaud, Visconti and Rabottini with 6'09'' on the peloton. 49 km to go.

And with about 44 kilometers to go, it seemed like the real racing had begun with an attack at the front from Lotto, covered easily by Astana. But it appeared a few had been dropped behind. 
For some reason @Lotto_Belisol are now leading the peloton and the gap drops from 6 to 5 mins. 10 km to Télégraphe starts. #giro

Forty kilometers to go and the gap was under five minutes with the real climbing to come very soon. 
Gianni Savio gives the break 50% chance of making it. I'd say 20% at this point. #giro
Indeed, by 35 kilometers to go, the break was slightly over three minutes. 
Lotto-Belisol leading the peloton to chase the breakaway. Not sure what their plan is. Ag2r are local team, working for Betancur + Pozzovivo

30.2km to go, gap 2'13". Next climb is the Col du Telegraphe: Average gradient of about 7.2%. 12km in length. #Giro

Under thirty kilometers to go and the peloton was starting to break up. Less than two minutes to the breakaway riders. Hey, Gesink! He lost a lot more time yesterday, so maybe the group would let him go.
Cassani says now sprinters can be dropped with no stress as overtime issues are nearly impossible #giro

It was time for lots of attacks from the peloton. Would Astana react?
inrng 7:37am via Web
Gesink and Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) trying to ride across to the breakaway, they've got 30 seconds. Sky's Henao attacks from bunch.
One attack after the other right now. Di Luca attacks. 5 riders with him. Astana catch them. 25 km to go. What a show. #giro

mrconde 7:44am via Web
Gesink & Egoi Martinez caught by Henao &% Kiserlovski. Di Luca is trying to bridge the gap & leaves Santambrogio alone in the peloton. Hmm..

And they kept coming. More attacks from the peloton, as well as the riders coming together up front. With about 22 kilometers to go:
Front of the race: Visconti. 1st CG: Pirazzi, Weening, Rabottini. 2nd CG: Martinez, Kiserlovski, Henao, Gesink, Di Luca. #giro
inrng 7:54am via Web
Astana setting the tempo in the bunch but it's not fast. Visconti leads by 2.43 on the bunch. Up ahead it's snowing on the finish line

Great excitement from the folks at Podium Cafe as a marmot is spotted along the road:

I think he looks cold. 

48" to Weening group, 2'28" to the Gesink group (and Chalapud now as well), 2'30" to Herrada, 2'48" to the maglia rosa group. #Giro

Galibier time! Averages 6.8% max slope of 11%. Remember course change: Will NOT reach the top today. Finish near Granges du Galibier. #Giro

Gesink group caught. Visconti in front. Rabottini 45 seconds after. Then Weening & Pirazzi. Peloton about 2½ min behind. 9 km to go. #giro

TV shows wet roads for the chasers and snow at the finish. With about seven kilometers to go:

Visconti > Rabottini 40'' > 2'30'' Gruppo Maglia Rosa #giro

4.3km to go. 1'05" to Rabottini, 2'10" to Sanchez and Caruso. 2'24" to the maglia rosa group. #Giro

Visconti was looking very good for the stage win, but could he hold on?  The road is looking increasingly treacherous.
Visconti still on the front with 1'05'' on Rabottini. 2,5 km to go. / Visconti guida con 1'05'' su Rabottini. 2,5 km al termine. #giro

And at the end, he made it! Great ride today from Visconti, alone out front for a very long time. Pleased to see Betancur rescuing my stage predictor picks as well. 

Tomorrow, they rest.

1 Nibali,
2 Evans +1:26,
3 Uran +2:46,
4 Santambrogio +2:47,
5 Scarponi +3:53,
6 Niemiec +4:35,
7 Betancur +5:15,
8 Majka +5:20
9 Pzzovivo +5.57

2009 Domaine Belluard "Le Feu"

From the importer, Selection Massale:
Note: I've said it before, during the Tour de France but I recommend joining their mailing list. There will be several wines from them in this year's Wines of the Tour de France.

In a land survey from 1730 the total acreage in Ayse was estimated to be 375 hectares.  After the repeated blows from Oïdium, Phyloxerra, and the two world wars, in 1955 there was only 40 hectares, seven years later the number was down to a mere nineteen.  It was in this time of what must have seemed to be the end of the local wine industry that the Belluards began making wine.  In 1947 Dominique's grandfather began farming land around Ayse, growing a mixture of fruit trees and grapes, primarily the incredibly rare indigenous grape Gringet.  this continued until the 1980s when Dominique, fresh from oenology school returned and made Gringet's fate his own.  Since then he has worked tirelessly in this small commune to grow, protect and promote Gringet, which is grown on only twenty two hectares of land worldwide, of which he owns twelve.

Dominique's entire philosophy of winemaking is based upon getting the best expression of  Gringet on his terroirs.  Gringet (which contrary to what some people believe is not Traminer/Savagnin according to DNA testing) is perfectly at home on the southern exposed slopes around Ayse.  The grape, which ripens late, requires enough sun during the day to prevent the frost that plagues the region.   In 2001 Dominique decided to convert his vineyards to biodynamics, which he feels interferes the least with the some seven hundred years of history (that we know of, some people speculate that Gringet pre-dates the roman influence in the area) between the land and the vines that grew there.   When he didn't like what wood was doing to his wines, he got rid of the barrels he was trying out and moved to stainless steel.  Later he decided that perhaps fermenting his wines in larger volumes wasn't doing justice to his individual parcels he decided to invest in concrete eggs (for his white wines) and clay amphorae (for his tiny plot of Mondeuse) to ferment his wines, a process he is still in the middle of.

2009 Domaine Belluard "Le Feu" 750 ml:  $36.60
100% Gringet selected from Belluard's oldest vines in his best vineyard.  The wine is all grown on iron rich clay whose red color gives the wine its name.  This vineyard is located on a forty degree grade, giving it maximum exposure to the sun and Dominique keeps yields low to ensure quality.  Elevage is done is small concrete eggs with the addition of any yeast, and sulfur addition is kept to a minimum.  Even with all these advantages Le Feu is made only in vintages which Dominique considers exemplary.  This is bright, mineral driven, fresh, textured wine with a long beautiful finish.  there is no attempt made to bring opulence to this wine, it still remains lean and tightly structured despite the complexity.  These wines can cellar from 6-10 years, or perhaps longer. Le Feu is Dominique's top wine and as such we have a very small allocation.

I say: Interesting, in the positive sense. Straw in color, lots of minerals and slightly savory on the nose. Citrus, flowers, herbs and nuts. K says "This smells like lemons and something herby."

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