Sunday, May 25, 2014

Wines of the Giro Stage 15: Fabio Aru, Times Gaps and Rainoldi Valtellina Superiore Sassella

Where are we: Heading from Valdengo in Piedmont to Montecampione in Lombardy. Lying at the foot of Biella mountains, the territory of Valdengo runs from verdant hills to the plain, with colorful plots of farming land.
A holiday resort established in the early 70s, Montecampione belongs to the Municipality of Artogne, with its two housing estates (one at 1,200 meters and one at 1,800 meters), in the heart of the wonderful Val Camonica.

Food: Valdengo: Pulenta cunscia (polenta with cheeses), ris an cagnan (risotto with toma cheese and browned butter); Castelrosso and Maccagno cheese; melata (very dark honey, with a malt and dried plums flavor)
Montecampione: Fatulì della Val Saviore (goat cheese), taleggio cheese; goat, wild boar, donkey and goose charcuterie; gnòc dè schelt (chestnut flour dumplings), polenta with small birds or wild game, casonsei (ravioli with an egg, cheese and vegetable filling), turta dè rane (quiche with frog meat filling); roasted or stuffed freshwater fish (trout, whitefish, common bleak, pike, tench); donkey or wild boar stracotto, cuz (sheep meat cooked in its fat); mundìne (roasted chestnuts), spongada (sweet focaccia)

The route: Another day in the mountains before our third and final rest day tomorrow. Also another mountain top finish. The preview here from Inrng includes this interesting statement: "Each time the Giro has finished on Montecampione the stage winner has gone on to win the Giro."

The race: Finally in our break of the day: Adam Hansen. Joining him:
Maxime Bouet (Ag2r La Mondiale), Daniele Ratto (Cannondale), Johan Le Bon (, Andre Fernando Cardoso (Garmin Sharp), Damiano Cunego (Lampre Merida), Simon Geschke (Giant Shiamo), Luca Paolini (Katusha), Fabio Felline (Trek Factory Racing), Rodolfo Torres (Colombia), Jackson Rodriguez (Androni Giocattoli), and Enrico Barbin (Bardiani-CSF). With one hundred kilometers remaining on the stage, they had a gap of just over seven minutes. Another abandonment: Mitch Docker. That makes a total to only threee riders remaining for Orica-GreenEdge.

With 78 kilometers to go the gap was out to a full 10 minutes, making Cunego almost the virtual race leader on the road. With that, the bunch behind sped up and somewhat rapidly reduced that gap to seven minutes. With 60 kilometers to go, that gap was down to 6:40. Forty kilometers to go and it was already down to five minutes. Thirty kilometers to go and it was under four minutes. 
Coming soon:

With the climb just around the corner for the break, their lead was down to 2'24. Jumping out of the peloton behind Arredondo, clearly hoping to maintain his lead in the mountain competition. Ahead, Adam Hansen was alone at the front of the race. 

With 15 kilometers to go, Hansen was joined at the front by Cardoso. They had about one minute over the first chasers and 1:20 over the peloton. I was cheering for Hansen. Alas.

Nice move from Philip Deignan. He has a race diary running here. Apparently the team now has their Nutella back. Oh, Basso, looking good as always as he fell off the back. Deignan had 17 seconds with 7.6 km to go. Hey, look Hesjedal and Basso made it back to the favorites group. But quickly, Basso was dropped again, just in time for the attacks to start from the pink jersey group. 

At the front of the race, Rolland caught Deignan. Tons of action was taking place behind them. With one kilometer to go Aru was alone at the front of the race with Rolland and Quintana the next group on the road. Behind, the other favorites were scattered in small groups. 

Aru held on! Now it was a matter of waiting to see what the gaps were behind. 

Stage: Fabio Aru

Wine: 2009 Rainoldi Valtellina Superiore Sassella
From Biondivino  $27

From the importer: Founded in 1925 by the current proprietor’s grandfather, Casa Vinicola Aldo Rainoldi is THE flagship estate in the Valtellina, the heart of Lombardy’s heralded Nebbiolo-growing region. The northernmost wine region in Lombardy, vineyards in the Valtellina are located at extremely high altitudes (600+ meters) and are protected from cold, harsh winds by the nearby mountain peaks, which also trap the heat in the valley. The stony schist-based vineyard soils also retain heat and release it during the night to warm the vines. These conditions provide a long, slow growing season for Nebbiolo, known locally as Chiavennasca, allowing it to fully develop its flavors over a long, slow growing season. Vines here are cultivated exclusively by hand on the impervious (but optimally exposed!) steep slopes along the north bank of the valley.   

The Sassella is made from 100% Nebbiolo fruit grown in the Valtellina Superiore near Castione Andevenno and Sondrio. The vineyards face South at  250 - 450 meters above sea level. The thin topsoil in this sub-region has a high mineral content and yields fruit that's particularly well-suited for aging. Rainoldi harvests all of the fruit for this wine (70 q/ha) manually during the first week of October.

At the end of a slow maceration, the wine matures for almost two years in Slavonian oak barrels. After that, it refines in bottle for a year before it release to market. 666 cases produced.  

I say: Full flavored, but still agile. Garnet red in color with red fruits and plums.

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