For some reason I thought that the Giro woule start on Saturday, and was taken a bit aback when I realised that it starts today, on Friday. This was meant to be an introduction to this years Giro, but it had to be stage 1
But a very brief introduction. The Giro starts and stays for tree days on Sardinia. Then there is a rest day for the transfer to Sicily. This is the map of the route.
Then it is time to start with stage 1 of this year’s Giro. We are at the northern part of Sardinia. It is an unudlating stage. If it had been a week or two into the race, we could expect a breakaway to get in. But on the first stage, everyone will fight for positions, and wll not let a break get away. The one who is winning tosay, can wear the pink jersey tomorrow. The sprinters will not have a chance to be in pink after stage 4, so they will use their teams to keep the peloton together, and go for a final sprint.
In the 1500s, Sardinia was called insula vini, the wine island. It is a mild climate, much limestone and fragmented granite, and many indegionous grapes. It should be good conditions for wine production.
But in the 1900s, the cooperatives stared to buy the wine grower’s grapes at a guaranteed price, irrespectible of the quality. The result was as it had to be: The growers went for high yields, and the quality deteriorated. Quantity was more important than quality. With a few exeptions, Sardinia was known for cheap plonk with a lot of alcohol. Few liked the wine. When the market for cheap wine sold in bulk decreased, many producers collapsed.
But some producers had chosen to keep the quality, and resist the temptation to produce cheap wine in large quantities.
The wine production at Sardinia is more Mediterranian than Italian. They grow a lot of grapes that are known from the countries around the Mediterranian ocean, that are not grown in mainland Italy. We find few of the typical Italian grapes.
Sardinia is located far south. But the ocean has a cooling effect on the climate. It is not too hot ro produce good wine.
A grape that is grown a lot is Cannonau,which is the local name of the grape known as Grenache in France and Granacha in Spain. Originally, it is a spanish grape suited for warm climate. It often produce a wine high on alcohol. I think a 100% Grenach can lack structure, and have a jammy style. In France, it is often blended with Syrah. The Syrah gives structure, the Greanche body to the wine. Greancheis the main grape in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. To me, Sardinia is a new territory, and I do not know the wines very well. I will once again remind the readers that you are invited alng my journey of study, I am not pretending to be an expert.
We start in the north-east, in Alghero, where we are in the wine district Alghero DOC.Before we get to the wine, I will mention another peculiarity in Alghero, which underscores the connection to other countries around the Mediterranian. Besides Italian, Catalan is spoken in the region — the language spoken in Catalonia in Spain, and to some extent in French Catalonia (in the wine world more known as Roussillon).People imigrated from Catalonia in the 14th century. I do not know the history enough to say if it was an invation or friendly migration. The local catalan dialect is called Algherese or Algurese.
Alghero’s coate of arms have the well know yellow and red catalan stripes.
As in many Italian DOC-areas, they produce red, white and rosé wines under the same classification. This makes it difficult to single out a wine that is typical for the region.
The white wines ragarded as the best, are made from the grape Trobato, a grape that in France is known as Tourbat. There are many theories on the origin of the grape. Some says it is Greek, other says it comes from Aragon in Spain. Some says it is an indegionous grape from Sardinia. I do not have an opinion on that. It is almost only grown in this north eastern part of Sardinia. The producer who is often mentioned as a quality producer is Sella & Mosca. I have so far not been able to find a wine from the region, or a wine made from Trobato.
Also when it comes to red wines, Sella & Mosca is known for good quality. Many of te reds are made from Cabernet Sauvignon. I would have tried to find a red produced from Cagnulari, and indegionous grape. I do not know if they are better, but to me it will be more interesting than another Cabernet Sauvignon. The area around Usini is the main area for Cagnulari.
Furter north, we come intoe Vermentino di Gallura DOCG. But I will leave these wine for tomorrow and the next stage.
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.
Native Wine Grapes of Italy
If you are or want to become an Italian wine nerd, you can add this book to your library. Italy has many native grapes, many more than the 375 that are discussed in this book. There are many unclassified grapes that cannot be used in classified wines.
This book is available in hardcover and Kindle edition, and to my surprise: Last time I checked, the Kindle verison was mor expensive than the hardcover version. For a book like this, I prefer a paper version.
The World Atlas of Wine
If you will have only one book on wine, “The World Atlas of Wine”, by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson is the one you should have. It is a classic, and it is now in its seventh edtition. It is a beautiful book with nice maps and excellent content. It covers the entire world, but still with an emphazis on "The Old World".