It was more action than I had expected yesterday, and I hope to see action on the remaining stages.
Today I think there will be a bunch sprint. The stages goes in flat terrain, but take a turn into Tuscany. There are two categorised climbs, but they should not be too difficult. After these two climbs, the rest is flat to the finish. It should not be too difficult to control a break away. But the sprint teams will have to do the job.
We are in Emilia-Romagna. This is in fact two areas: Emilia is the area to the west and north-east. Romagna is the southern corner.
Before we start looking for wines, we have to lay the table. About 10 km from the start, the riders come to the town Faenza. This town is known for pottery and tableware faience. The word faience derives from the name of this town. It was French traders that called it faience. The production started in the 16th century. The workshop Casa Pirotta was regarded as the best producer.
We are on the Po-plain, probably Italy’s richest agricultural area. Rich soil can give high quantity, but usually not high quality. We get the best wines from poor soil, with challenging climatic conditions. Grapes that have to fight to survive, produce the best wine.
We can start with a wine we can keep for the dessert. When the stage turns to the left in Faenza, the riders come into the wine district Albana di Romagna. Here they make wine from the grape Albana. We get the wine in various degrees of sweetness, from dry to a sweet passioto, dessert wine. It is the sweeter wine that is more interesting.
We continue into the wine district Colli di Faenza before we go into the mountains. It is a rather new classification, and has yet to produce very interesting wines.
When we return from the mountains, we are in Emilia. The first wine district is Colli Bolognesi. Within this classification, they produce a large number of wines from many different grapes. They make some very good wines from international, or rather French grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. But the more interesting wines are made from the white grape Pignoletto.
The region can offer a lot more like wine. To be honest, other products may be more interesting than the wine. We can start with the dish we find on almost every childs menu: Pasta bolognese. Pasta with meat sauce. It can of course be an intersting dish, if made properly.
We are then going through Modena. 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.
We are in the area for one of the region’s more well known wines: Lambrusco. Lambrusco is a red, sparkling wine. Its popularity is growing. I have to admit that Lambrusco has never been among my favourites. But I have to give it another try. It could be a god wine to go with a dish like pasta bolognese. For more on Lambrusco, I will refer to the Decanter article from February 2016, Five of the best Lambrusco wines to try.
We finish in the town Reggio Emilio. Here we can find something we need for the pasta dish: Parmeggiano Reggiano, often, and uncorreclty referred to as “parmesan”. Parmesan is a designation that is illegal to use in Europe. Parmeggiano Reggiano is the version of this hard cheese from small producers.
There are ca 600 producers of the cheese, getting milk from 10.000 farmers in the region. The well known, high quality cheees are made with good raw materials, by highly skilled small scale producers, witin strict regulations.
Grana Padano is a rather similar cheese, often produced in larger scale, further to the west.
Italian Wines 2016
Italian 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.
Wines (and some other drinks) of Giro d'Italia 2017
Tour de France