Saturday, May 31, 2014

Wines of the Giro Stage 20: Zoncolan, Crazy Fans, Michael Rogers and Skerk Vitovska

Where are we: Riding 167 kilometers from Maniago to Monte Zoncolan. 
The local tourist board says that "Maniago was mentioned for the first time in an official document dated 12th January 981: it was a diploma signed by Emperor Otto II, which confirmed the possession of the court of Maniago to the Patriarchate of Aquileia.
Maniago is famous all over the world for its production of knives and of all kinds of cutting tools: the beginning of the history of the blacksmiths from Maniago can be dated back to 1453, when Nicolò from Maniago obtained permission from Venice Water Authority to canalize into an irrigation ditch the water of the Còlvera stream."
Monte Zoncolan has, since its first inclusion in 2003,become a regular fixture of the Giro. The mountain is in the Carnic Alps, located in the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

Our La Gazetta foods of the day include:  Boiled cotechino served with warm bread gently spread with horseradish, brusaula or pindulis (thin strips of dried, smoked meat), polenta soup with pitina (minced goat and sheep meat, flavored with salt, pepper, garlic, fennel and herbs, and rolled in maize flour), pastissada (polenta with mushrooms or sausage condiment or ragu; sauc (cured meat of the Pordenone area); Pordenone cookies, saleti (cookies made with maize flour) or bussolai (round cookies, with a hole in the middle)
Charcuterie made with Carnia and Sauris pork, smoked trout, scueta franta (fresh, seasoned ricotta cheese); cjarsons (sweet or savory filled pasta); gnocchi carnici (dumplings with nettle, raisin and cinnamon), Carnic-style roe deer, toc di vore or toc di braide (a dish made with flour, milk and grated smoked ricotta cheese. 

The route: The keyword today is up.  Some call the Zoncolan as the most feared climb in cycling. There are, of course,many kilometers pre-Zoncolan, but the focus is there. The fans are ready:

The race: Our breakaway of the day: Serry, Belkov, Preidler, Arashiro, Bongiorno, Monsalve, Domont, Monfort, Geschke, Rodriguez, Zoidl, Pellizotti, Hondo, Rogers, Roche, Cataldo, Cattaneo, Bookwalter, and Tjallingii. Their gap went up and down a bit, with 53 kilometers to go, it was out to 4:30.
After a mechanical. Michael Rogers made it back into the leading group, which had been reduced to 15 riders. Attacks had begunfrom the peloton, including Wellens and Chalapud.  
With about 46 kilometers to go:

41 kilometers to go and there went Pozzovivo, Sicard and Majka attacking from the bunch. This trio only gained a gap of around 10 metres before Igor Anton rode up to them to try and bring them back. The peloton had been dramatically reduced. 28 kilometers to go and the gap to the remaining breakaway riders was six minutes. 21.2km to go and the gap was 6’42. 

7.3 kilometers to go and an attack from Movistar, though Quintana asked them to slow.

Indeed, there were only nine left in the "peloton." 

Crazy fan alert:

In that pink jersey group, the work of Poels and Anton shed Pozzovivo, Majka, Rolland and Aru from the group. Anton was gone too leaving a group of Poels, Uran and Quintana. 
A great part of the sport can be how close the fans get to the riders. It is also one of the worst parts of the sport at times:

Meanwhile, Rogers powered along, eventually soloing to the win. Behind, the riders would trickle in for a long time.

Stage: Michael Rogers 


Wine: Skerk Vitovska
From Biondivino $35.00

from Olive McCrum, the importer:
Sandi Skerk's property is only 500m from the border of Slovenia in the Carso appellation of Fruili in the far North Eastern corner of Italy. Tasted out of context, ie here in our office in Oakland, CA, it is difficult to know what to make of the wines; they are different than any other in our portfolio. However, upon meeting Sandi, seeing his vineyards, his cellar, and listening to his winemaking philosophy, it becomes entirely clear how special the wines are and what Sandi is trying to achieve by making them. 
His entire process is natural, not because it is the trendy thing to do, but because it does not make sense to Sandi to make wine any other way. When asked about the style of winemaking that seems to be the trend in the Carso DOC, ie. long skin contact for the whites, Sandi talks about the great respect he has for his grandfather, who also made wine on the family's property, and about wanting to follow his technique. Making wine before it was common to use SO2 as a preservative, Sandi's grandfather used the technique of extended skin contact for his white wines. The tannins in the skins protect the wines from oxidation, allowing Sandi to use very little SO2 in his winemaking. Making wine naturally requires great care in the vineyards and the winery and if there is one thing I have learned about 'natural' wine after attending the two 'natural' wine fairs every year in Italy in March, it is that there is a big difference between 'natural wine' made by great winemakers and 'natural wine' made by any Joe Smoe hoping to jump on the 'natural wine' band wagon. Sandi is one of the great winemakers making natural wine well; his wines show impressive clarity, balance, and depth on the palate.
Sandi explained to Oliver why his ‘orange wines’ are not orange, read it here.
Jon Bonné of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote a great piece on the top producers in Carso, read it here.  
I also suggest this piece from Elaine and this one from Jeremy.

light strow-colored wine
Karst-wild-flower aroma
A native variety closely linked to the territory and local traditions. It is not very familiar in the other Mediterranean regions. Resistant to the bora (a violent cold northerly wind of the Adriatic) and drought, it gives origin to a fine and elegant moderately alcoholic wine. It has a light straw-like color and a delicate hay and Karst-wild-flower aroma. It has a dry flavor with an almond aftertaste and is often used as an appetizer. It goes well with all starters, main courses and light and delicate fish.

I say:  Straw colored. Apricot, salt, orange rind. Fascinating.

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