Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Wine and Food of the Giro 2018 Stage 5 Agrigento to Santa Ninfa

Where are we?
Agrigento: Visit Sicily tells me that: One of Sicily’s oldest towns, christened with many names and resurrected on many ruins. First of all, we need to visit the Valley of the Temples and the extraordinary exhibits displayed in its Regional Archaeological Museum to better understand that Agrigento, founded in 581 B.C. by Greek, Rhodium-Cretan colonists, to become Akragas the following century, was one of the most resplendent centres in the Mediterranean. For that reason, in 1997, UNESCO registered it as a world heritage site.
Of Agrigentum, you still have the remains of elegant noble villas and the regular roads of the Hellenistic-Roman District.

Giro regional specialties: Cavatelli all’agrigentina (pasta with aubergine sauce), Roba cotta (boiled veal and lamb), fish couscous, sweet couscous (with almonds and pistachios).

Santa Ninfa: tells me that: Santa Ninfa holds an impressive artistic heritage and it is well known for the Castle of Rampinzeri and the Museum of Nino Cordio.
Santa Ninfa was founded in 1605 by Luigi Arias Giardina who started the construction of the main buildings of the village, it soon became a popolar Baronial Feud. The old town centre was completely destroyed by the 1968 earthquake and the village was isolated for a long time. The artistic heritage of the town of Santa Ninfa was heavily damaged by the earthquake, but today it is possible to visit the Castle of Rampinzeri and the Museum of Nino Cordio, an important Sicilian sculptor and painter.

Giro regional specialties: Valle del Belice DOP olive oil, Belicino (sheep milk cheese), Vastedda (stretched-curd sheep milk cheese), Melone Giallo di Gibellina (winter melon), Pane nero di Castelvetrano (brown bread), sausage, Bracculata (bread dough with a vegetable filling); Mustazzola, Testi di Turco, Cosi duci, Cannatuna (traditional cookies).

The stage: Giro write up: A mixed stage, flat in the first half and wavy in the second half with some uncomplicated ascents. Three categorised climbs in the last 60 km in the "crater" caused by the earthquake in Belice. The first part of the course runs across the Valley of the Temples (km 0) and the Scala dei Turchi up to Selinunte. The final km is uphill, with a very steep climb leading to Santa Ninfa. Santa Ninfa, Salaparuta and many other places along the finishing section have been reconstructed following the devastating earthquake in Belice on 14.01.1968 – 6.4 magnitudo – with 400 dead. 


Slow early, so we get to hear Sean Kelly talk about the importance of having a good roommate for the Grand Tours. Yes, even at this level of the sport, the riders share rooms.
On the road, a quiet stage to start. With sixty kilometers to go, the gap was still over three minutes. Happy 41st birthday to Svein Tuft, the oldest rider in the race. Forty kilometers to go and the gap was around two minutes. Twenty five kilometers to go and it was still around two minutes. Time for the peloton to wake up. Sure enough, just as I typed, the break started to lose cohesion. Twenty kilometers to go and 1:30 left. Sky to the front for essentially the first time in this race. One assumes just to keep Froome safe. Fifteen kilometers and the one remaining break rider had one minute.
Big crash on the road with lots of riders caught up. It was in the second half of the peloton, so the gc riders should have been safe, though Pozzovivo appears to have been involved. Time for a team time trial to get him back to the bunch. Well done by the team to get him back so quickly. Five kilometers to go and the gap was ten seconds as we watch "Superman" (Miguel Ángel López) fly into a field. Three kilometers to go and the group was together at the front. Looks like there will be gaps today.

General classification after stage 5
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team18:29:41 
2Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb0:00:01 
3Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott0:00:17 
4Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Fix All0:00:19 
5Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team0:00:25 
6Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors0:00:28 
7Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida  
8José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin0:00:32 
9Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ0:00:34 
10Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe0:00:35

Wine: P Il Censo Bianco 2014
Orange wine alert!  100% Catarratto
From the importer:
Giampiero Bea, one of our dearest friends and collaborators, has an uncanny knack for finding and cultivating talent. As co-founder and president of ViniVeri—a well-respected consortium of winegrowers dedicated to producing wine as naturally as possible—he has introduced us to numerous growers whose ethos and aesthetics align with our own (Giovanna Morganti of Le Boncie and Paolo Vodopivec, to name a few). In the early 2000s, he helped the sisters of the Monastero Suore Cistercensi in Lazio refine and commercialize their distinctive wines, resulting in the much-beloved “Coenobium” and “Ruscum.” And, four years ago, he introduced us to Gaetano Gargano, a longtime client and friend who had recently begun rejuvenating his family’s old farm “Il Censo” in south-central Sicily. With Giampiero’s assistance, Gaetano had revived some old plantings of Perricone and Malvasia Nera, and had planted new vines of Catarratto and Perricone, with a mind to producing low-intervention wines in the vein of those he loved from Bea and others. Needless to say, we were intrigued, and the results clearly proved riveting, as the first shipment sold out within a couple of months. . . .
Il Censo itself encompasses 65 hectares, but it is a polyculture of grapevines, olive trees (both new and 100-year-old plantings), wheat (a fascinating and robustly flavored ancient strain called Timilia), and pasture land for grazing animals. The vines themselves—only nine hectares worth—are planted on a volcanic outcropping at a formidable 600 meters above sea level. Gaetano farms everything organically, and the dramatic diurnal temperature shifts (up to 95 degrees in daytime and down to 50 degrees at night) during the growing season ensure wines of complexity and balance. Working in the vein of Bea, with extended skin maceration for the white wine and a laissez-faire trust in nature for the reds, Gaetano’s wines have a frankness and gutsy charm that is utterly beguiling. Much like the wines produced by the Cistercian sisters in Lazio, the Il Censo offerings are wines of joy, completely lacking in polish, pretense, or fussiness, bursting with life and speaking a homespun dialect all their own. As one would expect, they are never yeasted, never temperature-stabilized, never fined, never filtered, and only barely sulfured—the final products containing between 30 and 40 milligrams per liter of free sulfur dioxide.

I say: Yum. My first orange wine in a while and this one is pretty great. Apricot, herbs, orange peel and some saltiness. 

Food:I admit it. I'm slightly obsessed with this pistachio spread. Sweet and buttery, it was meant to use in between the layers of a cake. Instead, I ate it, over the course of a week, spoonful by spoonful from the jar.

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