Sunday, May 28, 2017

Wine of the Giro 2017 Stage 21

Monza – Milano 28 km TT

Where are we?
Monza: Michelin tells me that
Monza is famous for its racing circuit, popular with thousands of fans who come here hoping to witness another victory by the Scuderia, the Ferrari racing team. However, there is much more to the city than just Formula One racing. Its cathedral is one of the most important in the region, housing the Iron Crown of the kings of Lombardy, and the city was also the scene of the assassination of Umberto I of Italy by an anarchist in 1900

From the Giro site:
FOOD: Ossobuco with saffron risotto, cotoletta alla milanese (breaded veal cutlet), cassoeula (pork ribs and Savoy cabbage).

WINE: Oltrepò Pavese (red, white, sparkling, from Barbera, Riesling, Cortese, Moscato, Malvasia, Pinot nero, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon grape varieties), Bonarda (red); Buttafuoco (red), Sangue di Giuda (red), Pinot grigio (white); San Colombano (red, sparkling red, white, sparkling white).

Food: Ossobuco with saffron risotto, cotoletta alla milanese (breaded veal cutlet), cassoeula (pork ribs and Savoy cabbage).
Wine: Oltrepò Pavese (red, white, sparkling, from Barbera, Riesling, Cortese, Moscato, Malvasia, Pinot nero, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon grape varieties), Bonarda (red); Buttafuoco (red), Sangue di Giuda (red), Pinot grigio (white); San Colombano (red, sparkling red, white, sparkling white). 

The stage: After three weeks, a time trial to decide this year's Giro winner.  So much for a processional, instead a highly stressful time trial. The favorite to take the win: Dumoulin. But time will tell. 
The early leaders:

Dumoulin with a great time to start, only two seconds slower than the current leader. Pinot, slow. Nibali, +19 to the leader. Quintana +33. 

Dumoulin into virtual pink on the road.
Further along:

Dumoulin would finish with 33.23. Stage win for van Emden. Pinot 34:50. Nibali 34:17. Quintana 34:47. Dumoulin wins the Giro!



Wine: Ar Pe Pe Rosso di Valtellina 2013
Ar.Pe.Pe. (short for Arturo Pelizzatti Perego) is a historic and well-regarded estate in the Valtellina, a mountainous region of northwestern Italy that borders Switzerland, “where the Nebbiolo grape attains the finesse and precision of Pinot Noir,” according to Ar.Pe.Pe.’s importer. “
Ar.Pe.Pe. specializes in two terroirs within the Valtellina: Sassella and Grumello. Grumello, with more slate and limestone in the soil, gives wines with more finesse and minerality, while Sassella, with red rocks and clay, makes a more powerful wine. 
 The exception, the Rosso di Valtellina, is a light-bodied, high-toned, and savory Nebbiolo that drinks well young.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Wine of the Giro 2017 Stage 20

Pordenone – Asiago, 190 km

Where are we?

Pordenone: tells me that:
its old city center is well-preserved, and complete an impressive Palazzo Comunale and clock tower, a Gothic loggia and a Cathedral bearing a superb bell tower and richly-frescoed interior.
  Corso Vittorio Emanuele II is the city's main thoroughfare, and it is lined with handsome historical buildings, such as Palazzo Mantica-Cattaneo and Palazzo Ricchieri; Palazzo Ricchieri is the site of the Civic Museum of Art, with its collection of precious paintings and wooden sculptures.

From the Giro site:
FOOD: Zuf (pumpkin soup), pitina sausage with cornmeal stock, polenta dumplings with cheese, musèt e brovada (cotechino with sour turnips), pork chops with Savoy cabbage, Biscotto Pordenone (traditional local cookies).
WINE: Doc Friuli Grave (white and red), Doc Lison-Pramaggiore (white and red), Prosecco Doc.

Asiago: The local tourist site tells me
Gabriele d'Annunzio, the famous Italian poet, defined the town of Asiago as "the smallest and brightest town of Italy", a slogan true in all times.

The town of Asiago is the main centre of the largest Plateau in Italy, which represents a wide green plain in the heart of the Veneto mountains that reach up to 2,350 metres above sea level. The other seven towns in the Plateau are: Conco, Enego, Foza, Gallio, Lusiana, Roana and Rotzo.

The city centre is located at 1,001 meters above sea level. Completely rebuilt after the First World War, the city is famous for its architectural beauty, bright streets and large squares and is a remarkable tourist site among the other towns.

Food: Asiago cheese (Slowfood heritage), patate di Rotzo (potatoes), sedano di Rubbio (celery), tarassaco di Conco (dandelions), cold cuts, honey and fruit preserves.
Doc Breganze (red and white, from Marzemino, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot nero grape varieties, Chardonnay, Pinot bianco and Pinot grigio, Torcolato, Sauvignon), Garganega.

The stage:
With the race so close for the top riders, there should be some drama today. Four riders within one minute should create fireworks. The profile:

The break of the day:

As they climb Monte Grappa, the group was shrinking rapidly, as Katusha pushed the pace. Eighty kilometers and the group was down to around thirty five. Seventy six kilometers to go and Zakarin to the front, time to blow the group apart? The main favorites followed. Yates and Mollema gone, but the other big names were together. 

 The chase group was coming close behind and they would ride together.

It was all setting up for attacks on the final climb.  

 Ahead, Teuns went alone.

Twenty three kilometers to go and an attack by Nibali. A preview of things to come? He would be caught, but gaps would start to appear. Indeed the attacks would keep coming. Twenty one kilometers to go and Nibali and Quintana were together. 

The riders behind would bridge to Nibali and Quintana. 

Keep in mind that Pozzovivo and Zakarin are still ahead.

As things flatten out:

The two groups in front would come together: Zakarin, Pozzovivo, Nibali, Quintana and Pinot. Their gap would shrink rapidly, down to twelve seconds with seven kilometers to go. Five kilometers and only seven seconds. 
1.5 to go and the gap was twenty seconds.
Pinot with the stage win. Well, now, tomorrow should be fun.

Wine: Quintarelli Bianco Secco Ca'del Merlo 2015
From Biondivino 
From the importer:  
Blend: Garganega, Trebbiano Toscano, Sauvignon Bianco, Chardonnay, Saorin
It is impossible to speak about Quintarelli without superlatives. The name itself stands for so much: the family, the wines, a style, a tradition, a way of doing things. After all the time, effort, patience, and care that go into the making of a bottle of Quintarelli, it truly does mean so much more than wine. Giuseppe, fondly known as “Bepi” to those closest to him, was a perfectionist in every way. From the beautiful handwritten labels, to the best possible quality cork, to the exquisite wine in the bottles, the Quintarelli name is a stamp of authenticity and the ultimate indication of an artisanal, handmade, uncompromising wine of the highest quality.

Nothing is ever hurried at Quintarelli. The wines take their time and are given the time they need. In the still, quiet calm of the family cellars above the town of Negrar, along the winding via del Cerè, deep in the Valpolicella zone, the wine from the family’s hillside vineyards ages patiently and gracefully in large casks until it is ready. Every release is a masterpiece, a testament to time, tradition, skill, and passion, the creations of a master artisan. You can’t really compare these wines to any other in the region, or anywhere else in the world. They really are in a class and a category all their own. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Wine of the Giro 2017 Stage 19

San Candido/Innichen – Piancavallo

Where are we?
San Candido/Innichen:
The local tourist site tells me that: 
The Southern reaches of the market town of San Candido (Innichen) stretch far into the Sesto and Three Peaks nature park. San Candido has city flair. Thanks to its lively pedestrian zone it is ideal for strolling and shopping. The adventure mountain Baranci is popular with families. 

From the Giro site:
FOOD: Knödel (with speck, spinach or cheese, Pressknödel), Bauerngröstl (sautéed farmers’ hash), beef gulasch, Schlutzkrapfen (ricotta- or spinach-filled ravioli), traditional bread from the Puster Valley, speck, Kaiserschmarrn (shredded pancake), Strauben (fried funnel cakes), apple strudel. 

Piancavallo:  is a ski resort in the Dolomites.

Food: Pitina (sausage made with wild meat – sheep or mutton – flavoured with salt, pepper and wild fennel), Asìno cheese, honey, saffron, escargots, traditional confectionery production.
Wine: Pinot grigio (white), Pecoranera and Bacù (red).

The stage: More natural break drama as it appeared that Nibali and Quintana's teams may have attacked while Dumoulin had gone to well, do what one does on a natural break. They would eventually come back together.

A little over fifty kilometers to go and a mechanical for Dumoulin. He'd get back to the slowed bunch though. Ahead, the gap to the break was over seven minutes. After his previous disappointments, is everyone hoping for Landa?
Forty kilometers to go and the gap was almost nine minutes.

Landa would hold on:

Behind, just when it looked like a slow time for the contenders, things changed, with multiple attacks. Distanced on the final climb, Dumoulin would lose pink. Keep in mind though: there is still a time trial to come.

Wine: i Clivi R_B_L_ Brut Nature
100% Ribolla Gialla
From the importer:   Their varieties include the native varieties Ribolla Gialla, Friulano (formerly known as Tocai Friulano), Malvasia Istriana, Verduzzo (in dry form, which is unusual), and a little Merlot, which has so acclimatized to this corner of Italy that it's practically native. All of the wines are grown organically, and are cleanly but very naturally made, expressive, distinctive and mouthwatering. The winemaking is essentially the same with all of the whites, except the lees-aged wines and the sparkler. The whites are not macerated with the skins, they are fermented using indigenous yeasts, and they age on the fine lees until bottling.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Wine & Food of the Giro 2017 Stage 18

Moena – Ortisei/St. Urlich, 137 km

Placed between the Latemar, the Vallaccia and the Costalunga passage, it is known as “the Dolomites Fairy” and is the most populous and pretty village of the Val di Fassa.
From the Giro site:
FOOD: Knödel, ciajoncìe (ravioli stuffed with potatoes and dry figs), apple strudel, fortaes (fried funnel cakes served with fruit jam); Puzzone di Moena DOP, Nostrano di Fassa and Cuor di Fassa (cheeses), speck; schüttelbrot and puces (bread types), honey.
Ortisei is the most lively and important village of Val Gardena.
This colourful alpine village features a charming pedestrian area with plenty of pubs, restaurants, shops and lovely sqqures. The ancient ladin culture is witnessed by churches, monuments and by the “Museo de Gherdëina”.
Food: Panicia (barley soup), jufa (milk mousse and corn flour), grosti da patac (toast with potatoes), crafuncins (fresh pasta with spinachs).

The stage:
This should be a good one. 

Behind, many attacks and back and forth. 

Thirteen kilometers to go and it was Landa and vanGarderen at the front. 

 Attack by Quintana. He would get a small gap, but not the distance he was looking for. Ahead, vanGarderen dropped Landa, but Landa would catch him. Continued small attacks from the favorites group, but would anyone have the legs to get away?

To my surprise,  Tejay would hang on!


Wine: Pomodolce croatina 
From Biondivino:
Azienda Pomodolce is located in Piedmont, within the district of Alessandria. Specifically Montemarzino, where you find three different production zones; Fontanino, Pomodolce e Barone. All vineyard work is done according to organic viticulture, with respect to quality and yield. 
A bit on the grape Croatina. AKA Bonarda; this is an ancient varietal is planted throughout Piedmont, Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna. In Lombardy’s Oltrepo’ Pavese and Emilia’s Colli Piacentini it is known strictly as Bonarda. 100% Bonarda is grown in Piedmont, however it is typically blended with other varietals.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wine & Food of the Giro 2017 Stage 17

Tirano – Canazei, 219 km

Where are we?
Tirano:Pride and joy of Tirano is the Bernina Red Train, Unesco World Heritage, which starts from Tirano and arrives in St. Moritz, reaching the altitude of 2.250 mt, thus giving tourists the opportunity to see amazing places.
From the Giro site:
FOOD: Bitto (cheese), bresaola, pizzoccheri (buckwheat pasta with cheese and Savoy cabbage), polenta taragna.
WINE: Sassella, Grumello, Inferno, Sforzato, Valgella, Maroggia, Valtellina Superiore (red).

Canazei : Michelin tells me that Lying deep in the Dolomites, framed between the Catinaccio, Torri del Vaiolet, Sella mountain range and the Marmolada, Canazei is an excellent base for excursions and climbs in the Marmolada range. The church has a shingle roof, an onion-shaped belfry and a façade bearing a painted image of St Christopher.
Food: Knödel, ciajoncìe (ravioli stuffed with potatoes and dry figs), apple strudel, fortaes (fried funnel cakes served with fruit jam); Puzzone di Moena DOP, Nostrano di Fassa and Cuor di Fassa (cheeses), speck; schüttelbrot and puces (bread types), honey.

The stage: 

And away the break would stay, with Rolland attacking to take a lead.

He would hold on!




Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb76:05:38 
2Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team0:00:31 
3Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:01:12 
4Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ0:02:38 
5Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin0:02:48 
6Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale0:03:05 
7Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo0:03:49 
8Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors0:04:35 
9Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:06:20 
10Jan Polanc (Slo) Team UAE Emirates0:06:33 

Wine: Cantina Furlani Rosso Alpino 

From the importer:
Towering over the alpine city of Trento, at some 700+ meters of altitude, are the tiny parcels of vines tended by Matteo Furlani.  Matteo is the current custodian of his family plots high in the Dolomites; he is a fourth generation winemaker. 
After studying agronomy, not winemaking (he learned that from his father and grandfather) Matteo set his sights on working his land in the most natural of ways. Chemicals were never a part of what Matteo's predecessors used to tend the vines yet Matteo took an even more rigorous approach, incorporating biodynamic preparations and methodologies in the vineyards today.  

Food: Polenta Taragna
I admit it, this is not a pretty food. But I wanted to try this regional specialty. Essentially you combine traditional polenta with buckwheat flour. It is then finished with cheese, in my case, Taleggio. Some sources suggest it is a meal alone, some suggest serving with sausages. Rib-sticking either way.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Wine of the Giro 2017 Stage 16

Rovetta – Bormio, 227 km (cima Coppi - Stelvio)

Where are we? Heading across the Alps.
Rovetta:is located about 80 kilometres northeast of Milan and about 30 kilometres northeast of Bergamo
From the Giro site:
Casonsei with a sage, butter and pancetta sauce, tagliolini with porcino mushorroms, polenta; mais Rostrato di Rovetta (a local corn variety), torta Rostratella (cornmeal cake), flour and crackers made with Rostrato corn, bertù di San Lorenzo di Rovetta (ravioli with a cotechino filling). 

Bormio is in the Alta Valtellina. 
Food: Pizzoccheri (buckwheat pasta), sciatt (cheese-filled fritters), manfrigole (buckwheat crepes), bresaola, Scimudin cheese.
Wine: Sassella, Grumello, Inferno, Sforzato, Valgella, Maroggia, Valtellina Superiore (red).

Stage:  Up we go. La Cima Coppi today. Plus, Switzerland.

Taking la Cima Coppi prize, Mikel Lande, cresting the Stelvio first.

Digestive issues for Dumlouin and he is forced to stop. Rather than waiting, the rivals follow Zakrin's attack. Inside thirty kilometers and the gap back to him was 1:30. 

Behind, Nibali, Quintana, Zakarin and Pozzovivo got some distance from the other leaders. 

Nibali! Quintana would follow. 

Nibali would ocntinue to take time on the descent. He appears to bunny hop some water on his way down.And he would hang on for the stage win. The first for Italy in this year's race.

Wine: Balgera Inferno 2010 from Dig
From the importerThe Valtellina is a very small wine-producing region in the mountains north of Milan, just south of the Alps that border Switzerland. The predominant grape variety is Nebbiolo, usually referred to here as Chiavennasca, and this is (along with the Barolo/Barbaresco area and the string of appellations in northern Piedmont, such as Ghemme and Lessona) one of the best places for this classic variety. The Valtellina valley runs East-West, and the steep slopes on the northern face of the valley are terraced for grapevines in what the Italians call 'heroic viticulture;' the amount of work involved in establishing and maintaining the terracing alone is hard to imagine, never mind working the vineyards. 
Blend: 95% Nebbiolo, 5% other local varieties such as Rossola Nera, Pignola. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Wine & Food of the Giro 2017 Stage 14

Castellania – Oropa, 131 km

Where are we? Going uphill!

Castellania is the focal point of that area that is reknowned as “Coppi Hills”: a territory in the Appenines which can be discovered through cycling tours or tours of other kinds, from the mountains to the sea.
 From the Giro site:
FOOD: Montebore cheese (Slow Food heritage), salame Nobile del Giarolo (Slow Food heritage), nocciola Gentile del Piemonte (hazelnuts), white truffles, organic honey.
WINE: Barbera, Cortese, Croatina (red), Timorasso (white).

OROPA (BIELLA) The Oropa Sanctuary is placed at the height of 1,200 mt and is since many centuries ago the destination of believers who comes up to pray in front of the Black Virgin Mary. The sacred mount which surrounds the Sancturay is one of the Unesco World Heritage sites.

Food: Pulenta cunscia (polenta with cheese from local pastures), fondue, ris an cagnùn (risotto with toma cheese and browned butter); salam d’la duja (salami dipped in pork lard), salam d’ patata (salami with potatoes); honey or grape mostarda (served with bollito misto); paste di Meliga and canestrelli (biscuits). Wine: Lessona (red), Bramaterra (red), Gattinara (red, Nebbiolo grapes), Erbaluce di Caluso (white, spumante, passito); Menabrea beer. 

 The stage:

Off to the hills:

 Under thirty kilometers and the gap was under a minute. A question: is that a whale?

Battles ahead as the trains form at the bottom of the climb. Under ten kilometers to go and an attempt by Diego Rosa to launch himself off the front. Six kilometers to go and he was caught. Next to launch, Igor Anton.  But there came the gc guys, led by Zakarin. Four kilometers to go, it was Quintana, Zakarin and Pozzovivo. Just over three kilometers to go and Quintana was alone at the front. Dumoulin continues to work behind and his gap was not growing rapidly. Missing from the front group, Pinot. Two kilometers to go and Quintana had only seven seconds. Under the final kilometer and it was Dumoulin at the front. Stage win and bonus seconds for Dumoulin. That was VERY impressive.

Wine: Azienda Vitivinicola Massimo Clerico, Costa della Sesia Rosso Ca’ du Leria
From the importer: The Clerico family has worked the land in Lessona since the 1700s. In fact, the Clerico estate, under the direction of Sandrino Clerico (Massimo’s father), was one of the three original vineyards awarded the right to the Lessona appellation when it was first created in 1976. The Clerico family owns two hectares within the designated Lessona zone which, by the way, makes the Clerico azienda the third largest landholder in the appellation!

Food: Fondue! Our recipe has not changed from our Cooking from the Books days. 
8 oz. grated cheese
1 cup white wine
As much nutmeg as K felt like grating
1 teaspoon corn starch

Heat wine over a medium-high heat until it begins to foam but does not boil. Add cheese gradually, stirring all the while. Grate in nutmeg and continue to stir until the mixture begins to thicken slightly. Add cornstarch and stir until the mixture thickens enough to coat your dipping items. Pour into a fondue pot and place over sterno to keep warm.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Wine & Food of the Giro 2017 Stage 13

Reggio Emilia – Tortona, 162 km

Where are we?
Tortona is a town in Piemonte, in the Province of Alessandria, Italy. Tortona is sited on the right bank of the Scrivia between the plain of Marengo and the foothills of the Ligurian Apennines.

From the Giro site:
FOOD Parmigiano Reggiano, balsamic vinegar of Reggio Emilia, gnocco fritto (fried dough puffs), erbazzone (spinach and beet greens pie), tortelli verdi (with a spinach filling), ciccioli (crisp pork tidbits).

WINE: DOC Colli di Scandiano e di Canossa (red and white, from Malvasia, Lambrusco, Cabernet, Marzemino, Malbo and Spergola grape varieties), DOC Reggiano (Lambrusco and Lambrusco Salamino); DOC Bianco di Scandiano (Sauvignon).

The stage:

Also news today: the withdrawal of Geraint Thomas. 

On the road, another should be sprint stage. Speaking of sprints, Andre Greipel is going home tonight, not interested in struggling across the mountains to come. Thirty kilometers to go and it was under a minute. Dullest stage of the Giro so far? At this point, yes.
Just over twenty kilometers to go and the break was caught. Ten kilometers to go and still gruppo compatto. Finally, a messy sprint won yet again by Gaviria. Wow. Sean Kelly: "best sprint of the Giro so far."


Wine: Monsecco 2012 Colline Novaresi Nebbiolo from Dig
From the importer There is almost a religious reverence in the Alto Piemonte for Monte Rosa, the mountain that hovers over the region, the grand eminence that protects and nurtures the region. It is visible from all points whether one is in Gattinara or Sizzano or Ghemme, an eternally white-topped mountain whose melting snows form the Sesia river that splits Gattinara from Ghemme. The soils of these hills are marked by the mineral salts and the glacial moraine from millennia of geological movement. Further, sitting in the foothills of this part of the Alps and neighboring the great lakes of Orta and Maggiore, the vines are exposed to large variations in temperature, warm days married to cool nights: an ideal ambience for the noble Nebbiolo and the other local varieties, all of which benefit from the long growing season to reach proper ripeness while maintaining a lively acidity.

Food: Gnocco Fritto
Gnocco Fritto because it is one of the Giro picks. Essentially fried bread, often served with cured meat. And what could be wrong with that? I had mine at one of my favorite SF restaurants, Delfina.  
If you'd like to try making it at home, this recipe from Academia Barilla, looks pretty doable for a home cook. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Wine & Food of the Giro 2017 Stage 12

Forlì – Reggio Emilia, 237 km

Where are we?

Forli: The central city of Romagna. 
The city is situated along the Via Emilia, to the right of the Montone river, and is an important agricultural center.

From the Giro site:
FOOD: Codfish stew, pappardelle with meat sauce, tagliatelle with stridoli (silene vulgaris leaves), tripe, tortelli with corn poppy, piadina della Madonna del Fuoco.
WINE: Doc Colli di Faenza (white, red – from Pinot, Trebbiano and Sangiovese grape varieties), Doc Pagadebit (white, both dry and sweet); Sangiovese and Cagnina di Romagna (red), Trebbiano di Romagna (white).

Reggio Emilia: The city belonged to the Este family (from 1409 to 1776). It is a rich industrial and commercial center located on the Via Emilia.
Food: Parmigiano Reggiano, balsamic vinegar of Reggio Emilia, gnocco fritto (fried dough puffs), erbazzone (spinach and beet greens pie), tortelli verdi (with a spinach filling), ciccioli (crisp pork tidbits).
Wine: DOC Colli di Scandiano e di Canossa (red and white, from Malvasia, Lambrusco, Cabernet, Marzemino, Malbo and Spergola grape varieties), DOC Reggiano (Lambrusco and Lambrusco Salamino); DOC Bianco di Scandiano (Sauvignon).

The stage:  The longest stage of the Giro and one that should end up in a bunch sprint.

While things are quiet, which might describe this entire stage, I suggest this piece and this piece on concussions in cycling, focusing on a frightening incident earlier this week during the Tour of California. 

Under thirty kilometers to go and the gap was under 1:30. Twenty five kilometers to go and it was approaching one minute. 

It would be all together, soon enough. Would there be a late attack or was it full speed ahead to the expected sprint? Zhupa would attack, but would be caught. As sprint trains fell apart, Gaviria with another win. 

Wine: La Stoppa 07 Ageno
From the importer: La Stoppa is a 50 hectare property located in North-West Emilia-Romagna. Founded in the late 19th century by a wealthy lawyer named Gian-Marco Ageno, the estate is currently run by Elena Pantaleoni and head vignaiolo Giulio Armani. 32 hectares of vines are planted in Barbera and Bornada for red, as well as a small amount of Malvasia Candia, Ortrugo and Trebianno for whites.

I say: Orange wine alert. 30 days of skin maceration with natural yeasts creates a deep "orange" color.

Food: A Bolognese again. Why? Because I have the flu and the thought of food is unappealing, yet I have some in my freezer.