Wines (and some other drinks) of Giro d’Italia 2016 – Stage 11: Modena — Asolo

Giro_2016_00-11A popular win in Italy yesterday. A 21 year old Italian, riding for an Italian team as first year pro. A great win.

Stage 11 is a mainly flat stage of 227 km. It is flat for 200 km. Then there are some smaller hills at the end. It should not be too hard, but I can be just enough for someone to break away.

Giro_2016_11

The stage is crossing the Po Plain. The Po Plain is a very rich agricultural area. But good wine is not produced from grapes that has grown in rich soil. The grapes have to struggle a bit to get character, to make good and interesting wine. The richer soil is better used for other agricultural products.

The first part of this stage is very interesting, but not for its wine. The departure city Modena is known for its Balsamico Vinegar. Balsamico is made from a reduction of cooked white Trebbiano grape juice. For the real (and very expensive) thing, we must go for traditional Balsamico, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale. There  is an inexpensive imitation Aceto Balsamico di Modena. It is made, or rather mautured in a process rather simialar to how Oloroso Sherry is made, called Solera in Sherry production. It must be aged for at least 12 years. At the end of the aging period, a small portion is drawn from the smallest cask. Then it is topped up with the contents of the preceding (next larger) cask, and so the process goes on. Freshly cooked grape must is then added to the largest cask. Every subsequent years, this process is repeated.

Modena is also the birth place of the late opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti. His voice had a unique timbre. To my knowledge, he was the only opera singer to have an opera aria in the normal hit charts. BBC had chosen his recording of “Nessun Dorma”, from Gacomo Puccini’s opera “Turandot” as their signature song for their transmissions of The Football (OK: Socker for you in US) World Championship in Italy in 1990. He also sang it at the opening ceremony at the Winter Olympics in Torino in 2006. This was his last public performance. He was then 70 years old, sick and well over his top. And he mimed to a recorded version of the song. One sad thing about Pavarotti was that he did not really understand when to quit, and gave some embarrasingliy bad perfomances in his older days. Here he is, singing Nessun Dorma. It is a performance in Paris. It was published in 2007, but I do not know the year of the recording. But it must av been when he was no longer at his best.

If you think bicyling is a bit too slow, you can go a little south from Modena, to Maranello. There is the Ferrari factory, or rather a workshop than a factory. Her you can rent a Ferrari and drive it on the Fiorano race track. We visited Ferrari in 2001, but did not rent a car. In Formula 1, they always put a beutiful young woman in the picture. But they usually have less clothes on than my then 15 year old daughter Karen.

W2001-8168This is also the region that has given us the Parma ham. Here is a video on how it is produced.

And then there is the Parmesan cheese, of Parmeggiano Reggiono which is the designation of the artisan version, and Grana Pandano, which is the more industrially produced version.

But back to wine. When we have crossed the Po Plain, we enter another of Italy’s well known wine regions: Veneto. We are passing a bit to the east of Veneto’s most well known wine districts: Valpolicella and Soave.

veneto-wine-map

As we so often do, we will start with the white: Soave. Soave is a white wine that goes with almost anything. You will never be totally wrong if you serve a Soave to food that goes with white wine.

Soave is mainly produced from Garganega, but it can also have some Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Trebbiano di Soave. As I have mentiones before, in Italy it is common to add “Classico” to the original areas were the wines were produces.. There are quite a lot rather uninteresting Soave, so go for a Classico. THere is also a DOCG called Soave Superiore.

A bit further east, we find Valpolicella. Val poli cella, the valley with many cellars. Valpolicella is know for its red wines, usually made from the grapes: Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, and Molinara.

Two types of wines are the outer extremes of dry Valpolicella. The usual Valpolicella is a rather light red wine. At the other end of the spectrum is Amarone, which is a passito-wine. The grapes are dried for a few months, which gives higher concentration in the must, and a more powerfull wine. Amarone has became fashionable, with a production that is too high and quality not as high as it should be.

A standard Valpolicella is a wine that goes well with typical Italian dishes, or rather what we non-italians think of as typical Italian: Pasta and pizza. But it of course depends on the sauce on the pasta and topping on the pizza.

We end up in the Prosecco area, but we will leave Prosecco until tomorrow.

Wines (and some other drinks) of Giro d'Italia 2016

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