Wines (and some other drinks) of Giro d’Italia 2016 – Stage 21: Cuneo — Torino

Giro_2016_00-21I do not really like when accidents are as decisive at they can seem to be now. On the other hand, they are part of the game. And one may ask if Kruijswijk was taking too high risks.

Now is the final. It starts mainly slightly downhill into Torino, where there will be a finsh almost as the Paris finish in Tour de France: 8 laps of 7,5 km in the city. But there is one important difference: In the Torino laps, there is a “bump”. Not very high and hard, but with 8% gradient. After three weeks of cycling, going over this “bump” 8 times can be hard, probably too hard for some. I think someone will get away, and some will be lagging behind — and that we will not see the typical “Champs Élyssées bunch sprint”.

Without accident, I think Nibali will not loose his lead.

Giro_2016_21

We are in Piedmont. Once again, the stages goes a bit outside the best wine regions. They are som kilometers to the east. A little before we are halfway between Cuneo and Torino, we will the district Langhe to our right.

One of the grapes grown here is Nebbiolo. The name derives from nebbio=fog, and it thrives in this area where it is often foggy. It is red/blue/black grape that need long repening period, and it is condidered a difficult grape to grow. It gives best results in Piedmont.

It has thick skin, but is rather light in colour. It is rich in taste and tannins. It easy to be tricked by a Nebbiolo wine, because of the light colour. We will often expect a light wine, not the tanninic and powerful wine we often get. Lange Nebbiolo DOC covers the entire Langhe.

The king of Piedmont is Barolo, produced in the district Barolo DOCG, a sub district in Langhe. Barolo is a powerfull, complex and tanninic wine. It is noe an easy drinking wine. It usually takes some time to learn to appreciate Barolo. If Barlo is the king, then Barbaresco is the queen. It is produced from Nebbiolo, a little furter east.

Another important red grape in Peidmont is Barbera. It is a grape deep in colour, low on tannins and with high acidity. It is a wine that goes with many types of food. If you will have red wine with fish, a barbera may be a good choice. Tannins and the proteins in fish do not go togheter well. It is better to choose a red that is low in tannins, like a barbera.

On of the leading districts for Barbera, is Asti, south west of Torino, were they produce Barbera d’Asti.

The third important red grape is Dolcetto. The name refers to some sweetness in the grape (dolce), but the wines produced are dry. The main production area for Dolcetto is further to the east in Piedmont.

It is strawberry season. A classic combination is strawberries and the sweet, white Moscato d’Asti, produced from Moscato (Muscat) grapes in Asti. Give it a try. When dicussing strawberries, I must admit that may favourite paring is Brachetto d’Aqui, a red, sweet fizzante, very low on alcohol, produced a bit further to south east in Piedmont.

If you will have something for celebration at the final, go for Franciacorta, despite it is from Lombardia, not from Piedmont.

Then it is arrivederci Italia. Beinvenue à France June 30, the day before the start of Tour de France, for Wines and other drinks of Tour de France. A bientôt.

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Wines (and some other drinks) of Giro d’Italia 2016 – Stage 20: Guillestre — Sant’Anna di Vinadio

Giro_2016_00-20An accident can alwas  destroy a rider’s chance. Seven Kruijwijk has a broken rib after yesterday’s crash. He will decide this morning if he will continue or not.

Another brutal mountain stage. It is short, as I have said before: For professional riders, not for me, 134 km. Here is no warm up. Climbing right from the start, three mountain passes over 2000 meteres, and a top finish.

As we saw on stage 16, short mountain stages give a lot of action, and are fun to watch. But it may not be fun to ride, at least not for the sprinters. Today is the day the general classification will be settled. It will not be possible to gain a lot of time at the final stage. Expect a lot of action, high speed and a time limit that may cause problems for some of the sprinter.

Giro_2016_20

We are staying in France most of the time, as the stage runs almost parallell to the French/Italian border, crossing over to Italy near the end. It is a brutal stage, and a brutal fact for us is that here we do not fine any interesting wine. In the tourist information, wines classified as IGP Hautes Alpes (IGP equals IGT in the Italian classification). But as far as I can see, it is not produced in this area. And I have not found local beers or other interesting drinks.

Maybe they have good and fresh water up in these mountains. We have to wait for more wine until tomorrow’s final stage.

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Wines (and some other drinks) of Giro d’Italia 2016 – Stage 19: Pinerolo — Risoul

Giro_2016_00-19It ain’t over before it is over. There may be a Trentin comming out of nowhere.

Today the stage go into France. Up, up and up. This stage is hard. The riders will get time to warm up for the first 30 km, and then it starts. Up to Colle dell’Agnello, the Cima Coppi this year, 2744 meters. Down, and then uphill to a top finish in Risoul.

Giro_2016_19SIMG_1080_DxOMany farmers do not like wolves. In Norway there is a constant conflict between farmers who rise sheeps, and those who want to protect wildlife. This is the situation in France too. My impression is that it is not as fierce in Italy. Frankly, I do not know. The mascot of this year’s Giro d’Italia, is a wolf, Lupo Wolfie. It is the one that the winners of the Pink jersey get. The farmers on the French side have said the Lupo Wolfie is not welcome in France. I think Lupo Wolfie is a cute little wolf, and hope he will vist France.

It is hard to find wines from mountain stages like this. We have to bring something from the start. Pinerolese DOC is the area around Pinerolo. Classified wines are made from Bonarda piemonese, Dolcetto and Fresia.

Two special and rare wines from the area are  Doux d’Henry and Ramie.

Doux d’Henry is named after the grape with teh same name. It is said that it is named after the French king Henry IV, who travelled through this area in the 1600s.

The production is small, ca 5000 bottles a year. I have never tasted the wine. But if I should come across a bottle of Doux d’Henry, I will be very intersting to taste it.

Ramie is only produced in the two municipalities  Pomaretto og Perosa Argentina, at small, terraced vineyards.  The origin of the name Ramie, is an unsolved mystery. It is made from several local grapes, with minimum amount given: Avana (30%), Avarengo (15%) og Neretto (20%). Up to 35% can be other grapes. The production is small, about the same as Doux d’Henry.

There is not much interesting wine in this part of the French Alps.

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Wines (and some other drinks) of Giro d’Italia 2016 – Stage 18: Muggió — Pinerolo

Giro_2016_00-18It was a strange finish on yesterday’s stage. It looked almost link no one would go for a win.

Today is another flat stage, but with a difficult last part. The sprinters will have difficulties up the last climb, and the 20 km from the top to the finish is probably not enough to catch up with the front.

Giro_2016_18

We Norwegians have good cycling memories from Pinerolo. Tour de France 2011 was the golden year for Norway. Two Norwegians were riding: Thor Hushovd and Edvald Boasson-Hagen. They had two stage victories each. It was the year when even the French sports newpaper l’Equipe was writing about Thor de France. And they were calculating that if the French riders had the same success rate as the Norwegians, the French riders should have 67,5 stage wins this year. Thor Hushovd won stage 16 before Edvald Boasson Hagen.  Thor Hushovd had his then team mate Ryder Hesjedal  to help him in the finsih, som it was a two against one in the finish. Edvald Boasson Hagen did not like to be beaten. The next day, on stage 17 from Gap to Pinerolo, he got his revenge. The last part of the stage was the same as the last part of stage 18 in this years’s Giro. They come into Pinerolo, go up to Pramartino and then down to Pinerolo. It is a hard climb up to Pramartino, and a difficult descent down to Pinerolo. Edvald attaced before the top, and none could follow him down the descent. Andy Schleck was complaining, saying that the descent was too difficult and dangerous. I saw a summary from a British TV-channel on YouTube, and remember their expert commentator saying: He has brakes on his bike, he decides when to use them. And that it is not enouch to be good at going up, you must be able to go fast dwonhill as well. But enough of sweet memories. We have to find something to drink.

We are starting a little bit north of Milan, in Lombardia. But we do not find interesting wines in the part of Lombardia that we will be going through today. But we soon come into Piedmont, n that is competing with Tuscany to be the No 1 wine region in Italy. The stage is passing between the most well known wine districts in Peidmont. The most famous wine districs are to the south. But we will come closer  to these at the final stage. Today we will go a bit to the north, to good, but not as famous districts.

We can start with Colline Novaresi, north of Novara. They produce wine from Nebbiolo, Uva Rara (Bonarda), Barbera, Vespolina and Croatina. A similar area a bit further west i Coste della Sesia.

But in between the two, on the southern side, are to interesting areas: Ghemme and Gattinara. Gattinara is the one to the west. If we go back in time, to the mid 1800s, it had a reputation as good as Barolo. But the area was going through a long lasting crisis. But Gattinara has recovered, and is about to regain its good reputation. An area that is up and comming, as Gattinara is now, will often give good value for the money. We do not pay as much for the name and the label as we often will do with more famous wines like Barolo and Barbaresco. Good producers are Antoniolo, Travaglini, Torraccia del Pantavigna and Sergio Gattinara.

Gattinara’s eastern neighbour, Ghemme is a similar area, and their wines can remind of the wines from Gattinara. Producers that are often mentioned, are Cantalupo, Platinetti, Rovellotti og Toraccia del Piantavigna.

We then jump to the finsih. Pinerolese DOC is the area around Pinerolo. Classified wines are made from Bonarda piemonese, Dolcetto and Fresia.

Two special and rare wines from the area are  Doux d’Henry and Ramie.

Doux d’Henry is named after the grape with teh same name. It is said that it is named after the French king Henry IV, who travelled through this area in the 1600s.

The production is small, ca 5000 bottles a year. I have never tasted the wine. But if I should come across a bottle of Doux d’Henry, I will be very intersting to taste it.

Ramie is only produced in the two municipalities  Pomaretto og Perosa Argentina, at small, terraced vineyards.  The origin of the name Ramie, is an unsolved mystery. It is made from several local grapes, with minimum amount given: Avana (30%), Avarengo (15%) og Neretto (20%). Up to 35% can be other grapes. The production is small, about the same as Doux d’Henry.

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Wines (and some other drinks) of Giro d’Italia 2016 – Stage 17: Molveno — Cassano d’Adda

Giro_2016_00-17Steven Kruijswijk kept his lead, or he actually improved it, and is now 3 minutes ahead of no 2. He will be hard to beat. But it is not over before it is over.

Today, the sprinters who have survived, will get a new chance. Given that they do not loose contact on the smaller climbs at the first part of the stage. But they should not be too hard. I expect a bunch sprint, with no obvious favourite.

Giro_2016_17

We start in Trento. For a short time we will be in Trentino DOC, but there is nothing to add to what I wrote yesterday, or at least I will not going further into details.

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Wines (and some other drinks) of Giro d’Italia 2016 – Stage 16: Bressanone/Brixen — Andalo

Giro_2016_00-16Here we go again. The first stage after the rest day is not a warm up stage. It is a short, at least for professional riders — not for me, stage: 132 km. Again there are mountains. One of the main questions for the rest of the Giro is if Steven Kruusvijk will be able to maintain his lead for the remaining week, currently 2.12.

Giro_2016_16

Let us start our day as the Italians: With a good coffe.Italy is the country that gave us espresso, cappucino, etc. Now Starbucks wants to establish themselves in Italy. Every coffelover knows that Starbuck in nothing compared to good Italian coffe at a local coffe bar. But Starbucks can, as so many multinationals, channel their profit out of their country. A favourable tax agreement with the Netherlands means that Starbucks pays alomost no taxes, making their costs lower than the local coffe bars. If you are in Italy, drink your coffe at an Italian coffe bar. Stay away from Starbucks! And then to some wins.

The stage go down the Adige valley, from the start twon of Bressanone to Bolzano. There the riders will take a detour up in the mountains to the west, return to Trentino, before going up in the mountains again. As I said Sunday, we will today “visit” some of the designated areas in Alto Adige.

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Wines (and some other drinks) of Giro d’Italia 2016 – Stage 15: Castelrotto/Kastelruth — Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm

Stage 15Giro_2016_00-15 is a 10,8 km uphill individual time trial, average 8%, max 11%. This uphill time trials must be some of the hardest stages to ride.  It is not long. But to go all in for a 10,8 km climb, that is hard.

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For a stage like this, I think the profile is more important than the map.

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We are now in the region Trentino-Alto Adige. It can be divided into Trention (the southern part) and Alto Adige (the northern part. We are in an area where the languages are Italian, German and the lokal language Landin. The places usually have both Italian and German names. The German name of Alto Adige is Südtirol.

We have to go to Alto Adige to find wine. In fact, we have to go to the start over Tuesday’s stage, Bressanone. Alto Adige includes Alto Adige DOC and Valdadige DOC. And then there are subareas under Alto Adige DOC.

We will cover Alto Adige DOC today, and come back to the others on Tuesday.

Alto Adigo DOC has the form of an Y, and we start at the top right.

Alto Adige DOC covers many types of wine. They can be grouped intot three categories:

  1. Alto Adige Bianco,which is mainly made from Chardonnay, Piont bianco and Pinot grigio.
  2. Alto Adige with the type of grape added. 85% og the grape should be what is given on the label. It can be more than 20 different combinations.
  3. Alto Adige followed by the name of one of the subregions. We will come back to these wines on Tuesday.

Alto Adige Bianco is usually a fairly simple white wine. But it is alos used for some wines of higher quality, made with combination of grapes that cannot be added to the designation. Some examples are Elena Walch’s Beyond the Clouds, Hofstätter’s Barthena Vigna S Michele and San Michele Appioano’s passito Comtes Sant Valentin (maybe this is a wine to buy, and keep until February 14 2017?).

Alto Adige with the grape indicated, are usually the most interesing wines, particularly if they com from some of the designated sub areas. These wines count for 80% of the production, There are 12 white/green and 8 red/black/blue grapes used in varietal wines. In addition, one can blend Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Langrein, with the two dominating grapes given. Some of the grapes are native to the area.

Schiava is a white/green grape that used to be popular. But it is no longer dominating, and there are not much interesting wine produced from this grape.

Langrein is a local red/black/blue grape. Langrein can produce intersting wines, that can be stored for at least 6-7 years.

Traminer Aromatico.Many of us associate the grape Traminer, in the type Gewurtztraminer with Alsace. But it originates from here. It gives a fruity and very aromatic wine.

After this stage, it is a rest day. I think the riders dereve it. See you on Tuesday.

Italian Wines 2016

1890142174Italian Wines is published yearly by Gambero Rosso. This is a detailed guide to Italian Wines. 22 000 wines from 2 400 producers are listed in the book. If you want to fine the best wines from the various regions of Italy, this is your guide. This is a type of book I usually use when I am visiting producers, to find the producers to visit.

The book is available in a paper edition and a Kindle edition. One year, I bought the Kindle edition. But for this kind of book, I prefer the paper version. It is available from Amazon UK on paper and for Kindle. And from Amazon US in paperback and as Kindle edition.

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Wines (and some other drinks) of Giro d’Italia 2016 – Stage 14: Alpago (Farra) — Corvara

Giro_2016_00-14It was an interesting fight yesterday, and the pink jersey shifted shoulders once more. Now the real competition has begun.

Now it goes from hard to harder. Stage 14 is the first stage classified as High Mountain, with 6 categorized climbs to pass.

Giro_2016_14

We are in a high mountain area, where there may be snow from september to may. In an area like this, one cannot expect to find local wine, event thoug it may be some produced in the valleys.

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Wines (and some other drinks) of Giro d’Italia 2016 – Stage 13: Palmanova — Cividale del Friuli

Giro_2016_00-13Stage 12 ended as a bunch sprint, as expected. And as many of the spirnters have abandoned, it was no surprise that André Greipel won yet another stage. But he has said that he too will abandon after stage 12. One of Giro s’Italias problems is that the last week or so, ar maily mountains.T here are no stages left for the sprinters. Those who have no more chances for stage wins. This is the time when riders start to feel old injuries, that the form is not as good as they had expected, and leave the Giro before the last week of climbing. André Grepel is not leaving Giro d’Italia with style when he is leaving in the red point jersey. Cycling Weekly is asking: Does anyonel actually want to win the Giro d’Italia sprinter’s jersey? In 2013 Mark Cavendish struggled his way over the mountains, fighting for the point jersey to the end, when i finally got it. To be honest, I thought at that time that Mark Cavendish would not han on to the final. But he proved me wrong. This is the right attitude, André Greipel, not to go home to prepare for more important races like Tour de France.

Stage 13 is hard, with four categorized mountain passes. Now is the start for the general classification contenders. This is the first real mountain stage, with four categorized climbs.

Giro_2016_13

We are now in the region Friuli — Venezia Giulia. The name can be confusing, as Venezia (Venice) is not in the region that bears its name. Venice is in Veneto. But the name dates back to the Venetian Republic. And the name Giulia is from Julius Caesar.

We are at the foothills of the Julian Alps. This is an area with interesting wines. According to the book Vino Ita­li­ano  Fri­uli is the region that was leading the development of quality white wines in Italy. Fri­uli is close to Austria, and was a recreational area for Austrian royals and aristocracy. They were picky customers, and wanted quality wine.

We start a bit south of the city Udine, in a wine district called Friuli Aquila. The wines from here are usually rather light and fruity. The whites are the best.

We do not stay in Friuli Aquila for long, beofre crossing over to Friuli Grave. Friuli Grave is the largest classified area in Friuli, and from here comes about half of the wine produced in the region. The largest area is not the most interesting, this should come as no surprise.  There are large producers and a fairly industrialized production. But here, as in almost all regions, some are working to improve the quality.

Before starting the climbs, we, or rather the riders, come to Colli Orientali del Friuli, which means something like the Eastern Hills of Friuli. In the Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC classification, there are ten white and ten red varietal wines, as well as a Bianco, a Rosso and a Dolce. For the whites, the most used grapes are Pinot Griogio, Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay. But local grapes, such as Ribolla Gialla, Verduzzo Friuliano and Picolit are growing in popularitye. Picolit has got its own DOCG.

Most of the reds are made from Merlog and Cabernet Franc. But again, local grapes are growing in popularity, in particular Refosco dal Penduncolo rosso, which is considered the best. Schoppettino, which is also called Ribolla Nera,is also popular.

Pignolo was almost extinct. But it is now in production. One think that Pignolo will produce great red wines.

At the second turn, where the stage is heading towards north-west, se are at least close to Ramandolo, where it is an old tradition to make sweet wines from Verduzzo Friulano, locally called Giallo. There is an amabile, which is demi sweet. But it is too sweet to go with the food, and not sweet enough for the dessert But there is also a passito.

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Wines (and some other drinks) of Giro d’Italia 2016 – Stage 12: Noale — Bibione

Giro_2016_00-12Some riders succeded to break away. And the leader at the beginning of the Giro, Tom Dumoulin has abandoned.

It is hard to find a more flat stage than stage 12. At the end, the riders will go two times around an 8 km circuit in Bibione. This is a stage for the sprinters.

Giro_2016_12

I said yesterday that I would leave Prosecco until today. One reason was that Prosecco is a wine to start with, rather than to finish with. And today, there is not very much interesting wine to find.

We usually think of Prosecco as a type of wine. But it is a grape. It ripens late, and has an aroma with flowers, apples and pears. It has high acidity, which makes it suitable for sparkling wines.

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