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.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Wines of the Giro Stage 19: A Mountain Time Trial Win for Quintana & Dama Del Rovere Durello Spumante Brut

Where are we: Bassano del Grappa - Cima Grappa (Crespano del Grappa)
MONTE GRAPPA with its 1,775 meters is the highest peak of the group surrounding it, making up part of the Veneto Prealp region, isolated between the rivers Brenta and Piave.
From Biciveneto: In World War I the Italians were engaged in a deadly struggle against the Austrians, who had routed them at Caporetto and were poised to invade the Veneto plains. If they succeeded, Italy would be lost. The Italian army regrouped and prepared for its heroic last stand along the Piave River and the adjacent mountain massif--Monte Grappa--which they had transformed into a fortress, with tunnels, bunkers, trenches, and gun emplacements blasted from solid rock (they can still be seen today). Every Italian citizen joined in the effort, contributing whatever they could to help their soldiers. The troops fought numerous battles, first defensive, then taking the offensive and repelling the invaders forever. The monument and ossuary on Cima Grappa are a testament of the tragic cost: there lie the bones of 12,615 Italians and 10,295 Austro-Hungarians who never came down from the mountain. In September of 2005, an organization of WWI buffs who have taken on the continuing assignment of maintaining a section of trenches, made a surprising and moving discovery: the remains of three WWI infantrymen--an Italian and two Hungarians, surrounded by their helmets, bayonets, boots, belt buckles, and personal objects (but no dog tags, so we will never know who they were). They had died fighting one another, then lay there together since June of 1918. • Click here to see photo albums of mountain warfare in WWI. • Click here to read an excellent in-depth article about the battles on Monte Grappa. • Click here to read more about the city of Bassano del Grappa, at the foot of the mountain. 
World War II brought more misery, suffering, and death to Italy. Monte Grappa was the refuge of the local partisan brigades which had organized to fight the occupying Nazi forces. Aside from having symbolic significance, it provided a vantage point from which the resistance fighters could look down into the Valsugana/Val Brenta, the main supply route from Germany to its forces in Italy. In September of 1944 the Germans decided they'd had enough of partisan sabotage, raids, and sniping, and surrounded the mountain. Forcing women, children, and old people to march ahead of them, the German army moved up the mountain, murdering any partisans they found, as well as civilians even suspected of harboring them. Other resistance fighters (not only on Monte Grappa, but in many other places) were captured and publicly hanged or shot, their families forced to watch. A powerful monument to them by the sculptor Murer stands just below the summit. The city of Bassano del Grappa, at the foot of the mountain, was awarded a medal for its valor during the occupation.

Foods of the area: Bassano asparagus with hard-boiled egg sauce, baccalà alla vicentina (Vicenza-style stockfish), bigoli di Bassano (extruded pasta), broccoli from Bassano, caramelized onions, polenta with potatoes and Asiago cheese, Venetian-style rabbit; castagnaccio (dessert made with chestnut flour)
Turkey hen with chestnuts; castagnaccio; risotto with mushrooms or grilled Monte Grappa mushrooms (honey mushrooms, porcini mushrooms, russula, etc.); risotto with hop sprouts; morlacco del Grappa cheese; pinza, apple pie, pumpkin pie

The route: Time trialing again, mainly uphill this time including a solid 19km uphill at an average of 8%. Read Will's post here on Podium Cafe about his adventures during the 1st Annual Monte Grappa Bike Day. 

The stage:A day for the climbers, rather than time trial specialists. Big crowds on the road today. 

Someone apparently did not mind losing time today: 
The early leader on the road was Nicola Boem (Bardiani) with a time of 1:12.19. Mid-way through, our leader was Stefano Pirazzi. At that moment it gave the team 1, 2 and 3 on the stage. Behind, Basso! But more importantly, the top 10 are starting their days, with three minutes between each rider. 
I laughed:

Umbrellas up at the finish and rain on the course. Would that slow the remaining riders? At the first intermediate check point, Quintana was 16 seconds down on Uran's time. Bike change for Quintana, something done by many of the contenders today. Strangely though, he also changed his helmet. 

In the hot seat was Tim Wellens, with all of the favorites still to finish. But that would not last. Next in that seat: Henao followed by Pellizotti. Behind though, the top GC favorites were starting to come in. Wow was Aru having a spectacular ride, even passing his three minute man. In contrast, mechanical issues for Ryder Hesjedal. He would lose over three minutes on the day. Next to the hot seat: Pozzovivo. Wow: 1.05.54 for Aru. Pretty amazing stuff, over two minutes faster than Pozzovivo. Nice rides for Uran and Rolland, though they both lose significant time to Aru. But then came Quintana, who finished with the best time of the day at 1.05.37. With the Zoncolan looming tomorrow, he is looking like the 2014 Giro winner.

Stage: Nairo Quintana
1 Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS Colombia MOV 79:03:45
2 Rigoberto URAN URAN Colombia OPQ +3:07
3 Fabio ARU Italy AST +3:48
4 Pierre ROLLAND France EUC +5:26
5 Domenico POZZOVIVO Italy ALM +6:16
6 Rafal MAJKA Poland TCS +6:59
7 Cadel EVANS Australia BMC +9:25
8 Wilco KELDERMAN Netherlands BEL +9:29
9 Ryder HESJEDAL Canada GRS +10:11
10 Robert KISERLOVSKI Croatia TFR +13:59

Wine: Dama Del Rovere Durello Spumante Brut
From Biondivino

From the producer:
PRODUCTIONS AREA: the vineyard is situated in Brenton di Roncà, 450 meters above the sea level, near the Dama del Rovere cellar.
WINEYARD AGE: 50 years
WINE MAKING PROCESS: Fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Second fermentation in stainless steel tank for 90 days.
PRODUCTION: 10.000 bottles

Dama del Rovere was born with 2003-vintage in Brognoligo di Monteforte d’Alpone, a historical Soave Classico zone in the province of Verona. Its name comes from the small Statue of the Madonna that lies in an oak-tree in Tremenalto area where we own 4 vineyard-hectares.
The holders Massimo, Wine Expert of San Michele all’Adige, and Davide, are supported by their father and grandfather’s experience, by the knowledge of the Agronomist Gabriele Posenato and by the Wine Expert Giampaolo Chiettini.
Durello sparkling wines are produced exclusively from the “Durella” grapes, native to Brenton, on Monti Lessini zone, at an altitude of up to 500 meters above sea level.
The wine cellar of wine-making and aging lies few km far from the head office, in Brenton di Roncà, at an altitude of up to 450 meters above sea level. In the cellar we pay attention to wine-making using very modern technology. We respect, however, the grapes-naturalness and authenticity. In this way we can mix tradition, culture and science to have typical and high-quality products of Soave and Durello zone.

I say: Durella or Durello is a white grape variety originating from the Veneto wine region of northeast Italy. It is mainly used to make sparkling wines. More here:
"Durella is the indigenous grape variety of the Lessini Mountains, an ancient and rustic vine that gives golden-hued grapes whose fundamental characteristics are a typical acidulous flavour and skins that are thick and rich in tannins: polyphenolic substances that normally contribute towards determining the full-bodied structure of red wines."

Very light yellow in the glass with many small bubbles. Crisp, green apples and citrus. Just lovely. I admit it, the get up very early to watch the stage, plus live my regular life schedule always becomes exhausting at this point in the race. This wine made me smile on a very tired night. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Wines of Giro Stage 18 : Arredondo & Bele Casel Colfondo

Where are we: In the mountains again, in the Veneto. Our start town, Belluno is surrounded by the Dolomites. Panarotta is the western gateway of the Lagorai mountain range, with its valleys, alpine lakes, mountains, and chalets. Pristine nature makes the perfect setting for high-altitude hiking, mountain biking and paragliding. 

Foods of the day from the folks at La Gazetta
Smoked herrings (rènga), fagioli di Lamon della Vallata Bellunese, barley minestrone, casonziei (fried ravioli with a pumpkin and ricotta or asparagus and spinach filling), Belluno-style pumpkin dumplings, wild game, pastin alla bellunese (minced meat with lardo, wine and sage, roasted), biondola (a kind of cotechino), figadet (liver sausage with raisin)
Knudel with chanterelle mushrooms, beef with onions and potatoes, mountain lamb, wild game goulash, bacon-wrapped rabbit roll; wurstel with sauerkraut; strudel

The route: Up we go again, 171 kilometers this time. Inrng stage preview here. As you can see from the stage profile above, it is a hard day with several difficult climbs. Fireworks possible, though based on Quintana's performance earlier this week, it is hard to imagine that he will lose significant climbs.

The race: Basso! Oh, wait, that is simply my fantasy team director heart dreaming of points. But there he is in our break of the day:

By the way, not starting today: Ivan Santaromita and Diego Ulissi. It is also raining again or maybe that is sleet? Also though, some sun. It will apparently be a mixed weather day.

Sixty kilometers to go and the gap was still 7:47. Forty nine kilometers to go and Arredondo attacked for the KOM points, followed by Cataldo. 
Sheep art!

Hard to imagine it, but there was Basso pushing the pace on the descent. 

Thirty kilometers to go and the gap was still around 6:45. Go Basso, go! Cannondale apparently agreed with me:

22 kilometers to go and the gap was over seven minutes. 17 kilometers to go and an attack by Thomas De Gendt. Fifteen kilometers to go and the gap was under six minutes. 12.4 kilometers and it was just over five minutes and De Gendt remained alone out front. Just over 10 kilometers to go and an attack from Basso from the break. Could he catch De Gendt? Next to go: Cataldo. The gap to the peloton had dropped under five minutes. Nine kilometers to go and it was De Gendt up front with the next chase group on the road containing Cataldo, Deignan and Arredondo. 

Just under eight kilometers to go and Duarte had caught the chase group behind De Gendt. 

Lots of time gaps today mean significant GC changes, yet again. And, of course, 7th on the stage for Basso.

Stage: Julian Arredondo
1 Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS Colombia MOV 24 77:58:08
2 Rigoberto URAN URAN Colombia OPQ 27 +1:41
3 Pierre ROLLAND France EUC 28 +3:29
4 Fabio ARU Italy AST 24 +3:31
5 Rafal MAJKA Poland TCS 25 +3:31
6 Domenico POZZOVIVO Italy ALM 32 +3:52
7 Ryder HESJEDAL Canada GRS 34 +4:32
8 Wilco KELDERMAN Netherlands BEL 23 +4:37
9 Cadel EVANS Australia BMC 37 +4:59
10 Robert KISERLOVSKI Croatia TFR 28 +8:33

The wine: Bele Casel Asolo Prosecco DOCG
“Colfondo” 2012

From Biondivino

From the producer:
Production area: Maser (Crespignaga)
Grape variety: Glera
Vineyard: sloped, 225 meters a.s.l.
Training system: Guyot – organic
Harvest: 4 September, picked by hand
Vinification: the grapes are soft-pressed with a pneumatic press followed by static racking of the must and temperature-controlled fermentation (18-20° C.) with cultured yeast; the wine is then aged on its lees in stainless-steel vats for 3 months.
Secondary fermentation: Coming from Asolo tradition, second fermentation in the bottle without degorgement.
Bottling Date: 08.05.2013
Fermentation time: around 32 days
Aging: no fewer than 6/8 months in bottle.
Tasting Notes

In the glass: straw yellow with fine, persistent bubbles.
On the nose: this wine changes from one moment to the next; from the classic fresh fruit notes and “bread crust” that you find in Prosecco as soon as fermentation is complete, more complex notes emerge the longer the wine is in the glass thanks to the presence of the lees.
On the palate: As on the nose, delicate notes of fruit evolve as elegant hints of yeast emerge.
Alcohol: 11.04%
Pressure: 2.3 atmospheres
Acidity: 5.27 g/l
Residual sugar: less than 1 g/l
Serving temperature: 8-10° C.
Carefully decant this wine into a carafe or decanter and avoid uncessary movement so as to eliminate the light sediment. You can also gently turn the wine upside down so as to make it cloudy.

I say: After all of those pictures of Prosecco vineyards yesterday. 

‘Colfondo’ refers to the artisanal approach of making Prosecco, whereby the second, carbonic fermentation takes place in bottle, leaving a slight residue at the bottom of the bottle (‘il fondo’) which when disturbed makes the wine cloudy, enriching it with the lees of the vinification. Read more here from Jeremy Parzen.  

Dry with light fruit and some yeast. A lovely pairing with charcuterie.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wines of the Giro Stage 17: Pirazzi Wins from the Breakaway & Maculan Marzemino

Where are we: Riding 208 kilometers through the Veneto. Sarnonico is a summer holiday resort, renowned for its pinewoods and lovely walking in a mild and generally dry climate.
Vittorio Veneto was founded in honor of the first King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II. It is renowned for the battle against the Austrian army during World War I. 

Our foods of the day include:  gnoci smalzadi (dumplings made with raw potatoes, seasoned with butter and bacon), polenta with wild game or goulash, barley soup (with speck and smoked pork meat), goulash soup, Terlaner-weinsuppe (egg cream with Terlan wine); Mortandela della Val di Non (traditional cured meat); tortel (potato quiche with charcuterie and mountain pasture-fed cheese), Lucanica sausage with sauerkraut, roasted ham hock and potato rosti, cabbage with smoked bacon; strudel, apple pie, krapfen (Berliner), torta de formenton (buckwheat cake)
Sardèe in saor (sardines in onion sauce), grilled Treviso radicchio, smoked herrings (rènga) with polenta, fasòi col musèt (bean and cotechino soup); tripe (with or without broth); bigoli (extruded pasta) in anchovy sauce; sopressa (aged salami); cavret in tecia (pan-cooked baby goat), hare meat with prosecco wine; tiramisu, pandoro, pinza (cake made of flour and dried fruit, served with red or mulled wine).
The route: If the bunch is willing to chase, quite possibly a day for the sprinters. But I'm guessing a breakaway stays away. Inrng stage preview here.

The race: First, about yesterday. To be honest, I'm still confused. It appears that communication was very unclear. Lots more here and here and here. Polemica aside, quite a few did not finish the stage: Daniele Colli & Mauro Finetto (both Neri Sottoli), Arnaud Courteille (FDJ), Thomas Dekker (Garmin-Sharp), Alessandro Petacchi (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Michele Scarponi (Astana).

On the road today, they are in the sun and have been in a hurry. Our early morning breakway consisted of Enrico Gasparotto (Astana), Matteo Montaguti (AG2R La Mondiale), Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani), Nicola Boem (Bardiani), Marco Canola (Bardiani), Jos Van Emden (Belkin), Daniel Oss (BMC), Oscar Gatto (Cannondale), Johan Le Bon (FDJ), Jussi Viekkanen (FDJ), Daniano Cunego Lampre-Merida), Mattio Bono (Lmapre-Merida), Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol), Igor Anton (Movistar), Thomas De Gendt (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Davide Malacarne (Europcar), Simon Geschke (Giant-Shimano), Alberto Losada (Katusha), Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Philip Deignan (Sky), Evgeni Petrov (Tinkoff-Saxo), Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Fabio Felline (Trek Factory Racing). A late addition to that group: Frapporti. The best placed rider in today's break is Damiano Cunego who is over 48 minutes behind Quintana, so he's no threat to the maglia rosa. With 100 kilometers to go, their gap was 6:35. With 90 kilometers to go, it was over eight minutes. Perhaps a day for the break indeed?
After the drama of yesterday, today's stage had been and seemed likely to remain a day more about the lovely scenery. It was another day that the announcers requested comments and questions from twitter. 

Fifty two kilometers to go and the gap was almost twelve minutes. More vineyards along the way.

Ahead, some rain at the finish line, while the gap remained above 10 minutes. 
Rumor of the day:

And this:

More, from the PodiumCafe live stage thread: Sporza now calling Guy Dobbelaere, head of race jury: “Manager of Tinkoff and Cannondale represented the teams. The race jury misexpressed themselves. Meant to just show where the dodgy corners were. Team managers asked to correct the times, but that’s not possible. Also because we don’t have the correct times at the top and the bottom of the Stelvio. Nothing will be changed. We told this to Cannondale and Tinkoff. We haven’t heard from the teams since. Race organisers never checked with the jury about what they were gonna do. It’s a fault of the translation. We checked with the UCI in Switzerland, and they agree with us. The rules don’t allow us to change anything. This was a race incident, it’s passed, it’s over. We aren’t going to do anything any more, I don’t think the teams are going to do anything either.”
More here

Eventually attacking form the break and getting a gap rather quickly: Thomas De Gendt. Wet roads at that point and a crash in the breakaway: Le Bon, Frapporti and Vorganov. 

With just over twenty kilometers to go, DeGendt was caught by Pirazzi. The theme for next kilometers was slippery when wet. Lots of small slips and crashes. Behind, Movistar slowed the peloton. Ahead, they raced on. 

Soon they were joined by Montaguti, McCarthy and Wellens. There were many attempts to catch them, but with 5.5 kilometers to go, they were still away from the chasers behind. The peloton meanwhile was fourteen minutes back. 
One kilometer to go and Pirazzi jumped from that group. As the others looked at each other and did not chase, he won decisively. A third stage win for Bardiani! Meanwhile, many kilometers back, the peloton continued their semi-relaxed day.

Stage: Stefano Pirazzi
GC: unchanged
1 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 68:11:44  
2 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:01:41  
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:03:21  
4 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:03:26  
5 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:03:28  
6 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:03:34  
7 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:49  
8 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:04:06  
9 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin Sharp 0:04:16  
10 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Trek Factory Racing 0:08:02  

The wine: Maculan Marzemino 2010

From the importer: For three generations the Maculan family has been selecting and vinifying the best grapes in Breganze, an enchanting village at the foot of the Alps in Italy’s Veneto region. While the surrounding mountains protect the area from cold winds, creating a perfect microclimate for the cultivation of wine grapes, it is Fausto Maculan’s drive and commitment that sets these wines apart and distinguishes Maculan as an innovative, dynamic winery.
It can be said that Fausto Maculan was born to make wine, having been birthed in the very building that today houses his office at the Maculan winery. At age 13, he began working at the winery during school vacations and visiting customers with the assistance of a driver (he was too young to have a license).
At the age of 14, Fausto enrolled at the famed School of Enology in Conegliano, where he graduated with honors in 1970. He then completed an obligatory year of military service as an official of the valiant Alpine Corps, a division of the Italian Army known to have a long-standing affinity for wine. Finally, Fausto realized his true calling - managing the viticultural, productive, and commercial aspects of the family business, under the credo of “a small winery making great products.” He studied diligently, traveled to the best winemaking areas in the world, including Bordeaux in France, and boldly experimented with his wines — at times arousing incredulity among observers.

The Maculan farm comprises 37 acres of estate-owned vineyards in the charming town of Breganze. Located in the Veneto region about 12 miles north of Vicenza and roughly equidistant from Verona and Venice, Maculan also has contracts with growers of another 125 vineyard acres within the Breganze DOC. The location of Breganze at the southernmost foothills of the Dolomite Alps provides perfect southern exposures along with protection from central European winters.

Wine Description

This wine is made from %100 Marzemino grapes. The word cornorotto, meaning broken horn, is taken from the name of an area on the hills overviewing Breganze. The grapes are hand harvested in September and are slightly dried for one week, prior to fermentation in stainless steel tanks.
Intense ruby red in color, this wine has aromas of ripe black fruits with notes of black berries. On the palate it shows intense and persistent flavors. The texture is soft and velvety with very light tannins.
Pair this wine with gamey ragouts, roasted meats, and mixed grilled meats.

I say: First off: marzemino. Wiikipedia tells me that "Marzemino is a red Italian wine grape variety that is primarily grown around Isera, south of Trentino. The wine is most noted for its mention in the opera Don Giovanni of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ("Versa il vino! Eccellente Marzemino!"). Wine produced from the grape has a characteristic dark tint and light plummy taste."

From the color, I was expecting something very full and rich. Instead, plums and spice, with more acidity than I would have thought. That was day one, on day two this wine came alive. What had seemed acidity and muted had become full and rich. Food pairing? More air? Moon cycle? Who knows? But a good reminder that re-tasting is often a very good idea.

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.