Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Wines of the Giro Stage 16: Confusion, Quintana and Georg Mumelter Griesbauerhof Santa Maddalena

Where are we: heading from Ponte di Legno  in Lombardy to Val Martello/Martelltal in South Tyrol. 
Ponte di Legno is a major Italian resort for tourism and winter sports; its ski club was established back in 1911. That resort features 100 km of slopes and 30 lift facilities.
Val Martello, one of the jewels in the crown of Val Venosta, belongs to the Stelvio National Park. It is renowned for its old farmsteads and its strawberry and raspberry production.
The foods of the area include:  Wurstel, smoked charcuterie, bresaola, speck; raw-milk, spiced or hard cheeses, pecorino; jams and herbal liqueurs.

The route: The the Queen Stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia. This is the stage the race organizers had to cancel last year due to snow. This is the day that features some of the better known climbs of the race. The riders have to climb more than 4300 meters - in just 139 km. The Stelvio Pass is this year’s Cima Coppi - the highest point of the race - and offers 40 KOM points to the first rider over its top. There has been lots of talk about whether or not they should race in these conditions. Perhaps my favorite comment:

The race
Note: In case you did not know that I write these live, it will be very clear today.

Off they went. In rain and sleet and snow. Well, except for Edvald
Boasson Hagen who did not start due to injuries. Quintana, by the way, has started the day, but there has been much talk of an ear infection. In non-Giro injury reports, fingers and toes crossed for a good recovery for Taylor Phinney, who broke his leg during yesterday's US National Road Race.

Our lead group, with about 85 kilometers to go: Pellizotti, Cataldo, Vuillermoz, Chalapud, Rosa, Kiserlovski, Niemiec, Dupont & Pantano. 

Somewhere in between those two groups, Geniez. With about 75 kilometers to go, he had caught the break. Behind, an attack from Rolland on the front of the pink jersey group. Quickly the group became strung out, but they did not let him get away. 

News on what was still to come:

Apparently time gaps will be taken at the top of the climb and riders will stay on their bikes but will be lead down the descent.

Ahead Cataldo attacked his break mates to be the first to pass the Cima Coppi (highetst point in this year's race). 
The neutralisation of the descent had me wondering about the grupetto and making the time cut. They often make up time on the descents and with it neutralized, it could be tough for them to make it. 

Slippery roads, stone walls. Even neutralized, the descent was frightening. 

Confusion reigned on the way down. Did they all know about the neutralization? It did not look that way. 

 And then, well, this:

Back on the road, It appeared that Quintana had pushed on with a few others, including Rolland Hesjedal, gaining over a minute on Uran. 37 kilometers to go and that group had two minutes over Uran's group. 32 kilometers to go and Cataldo still had a minute over that chasing group. 
More polemica: 

At 22.9 kilometers to go, Cataldo remained in the lead with 1’27” to the chasersand  3’19” to the Maglia Rosa group. At home on my couch, I was hoping that Cataldo could stay away for the win. 
On a positive note, the weather had improved. 

Quintana and Rolland caught Cataldo with just under 18 kilometers to go. They were soon joined by Ryder Hesjedal, as they ride by many lovely vineyards. Not long after, they dropped Cataldo. 

Still to come: 10 hairpins over 1.5km at 13% and 8 more in final km at 14%. 11 kilometers to go and the gap to the front group was just over two minutes. That gap was growing.

 A thought for the grupetto behind

Ahead, Quintana looked much stronger than Rolland and Hesjdal, riding away from them on the steeper portions, though they kept catching back on. A good day to remember that Hesjedal is on my fantasy team. With over a three minute gap, Quintana had become the race leader on the road. Behind, attacks from that pink jersey groups. 
On a side note:

Meanwhile on the road, Rolland dropped from the lead group. 4 kilometers to go and it was Quintana and Hesjedal together with a gap of just under three minutes to the pink jersey group. Two kilometers to go and it was 3:16. There were more splits on the road behind. One kilometer to go and Quintana was distancing Hesjedal. 

The winner: Nairo Quintana. Great ride from Ryder Hesjedal as well, finishing 6 seconds back. Next up, Rolland.

Stage: Nairo Quintana
2 Canada R. Hesjedal Garmin +8
3 France P. Rolland Europcar +1:12
4 Netherlands W. Kelderman Belkin +3:30
5 Italy D. Pozzovivo AG2R +3:36
6 Italy F. Aru Astana +3:40
7 Poland R. Majka Tinkoff – Saxo +4:06
8 Colombia Seb. Henao Team Sky +4:10
9 Colombia R. Urán O.Ph.-Q-Step +4:10
10 Australia C. Evans BMC Racing +4:47

GC:  Nairo Quintana

The wine: Georg Mumelter Griesbauerhof Santa Maddalena Classico 2012

From the importer, Oliver McCrum:
The meteoric rise in quality of most Italian wine regions is clear. Nowhere is this more true than in the Alto Adige, where you'll find ripe, bright whites, the inimitable Lagrein, the delicious Santa Maddalena (made primarily from the Schiava grape), and passionate winemakers. All of this set in beautiful Alpine valleys, just south of the Austrian border. The people who live here speak mostly German and think of themselves as Tirolese (the local name for the area is the Südtirol), rather than Italian or Austrian.
Georg Mumelter's farm, Griesbauerhof, is situated outside Bolzano, the principal city of the Alto Adige. His tiny cellar is underneath the house, with the vineyards just outside. Mumelter is meticulous and quiet; his wines show great character and are exceedingly well-made. Santa Maddalena, which is made primarily from the Schiava grape, is Mumelter's calling-card. This delicious berry-ish red is Italy's answer to Beaujolais, and a foil to his other red, Lagrein Dunkel, which is one of the great Italian red grapes and deserves to be much more well known. The best examples are deep purple in color, with aromas of blackberries and Assam tea. Very small quantities.

Santa Maddalena Classico: Some wines try to be impressive on their own, others make food taste good. I can't think of a better example of the second kind (my favorite kind) than Santa Maddalena. The best wines (called 'Classico') are grown in the amphitheater around the village. Georg Mumelter's vineyards are in this area, the winery just below it on the valley floor. At the end of my annual visit, Mumelter's wife Margareth sometimes serves a supper of cured meats, including the lightly smoked ham called Speck; their Santa Maddalena is the bottle that disappears first. Perhaps that is the most important test of a wine, that it is drunk first. ('Griesbauerhof' is the name of the farm; both the family name and the name of the farm can be used in the Alto Adige.)

Made of Schiava (in German, Vernatsch) with a small amount of Lagrein, this wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel.
I say: I'm a big fan of wines from this region. Read more about the wines and the area from Wolfgang Weber, here.
I've been obsessed with Schiava recently. I like the Widmann Vernatsch, so much that I almost chose it for today, despite the fact that it was a Giro wine last year.
Instead, a blend, with some Lagrein added in with the Schiava. Garnet colored and smooth with black cherry and strawberries. Light and very easy to drink. Another wine I would really like a case of. 

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