Wines (and some other drinks) of Giro d’Italia 2017. Stage 11: Firenze (Ponte A Ema) — Bagno de Romagna

Today, May 17th, is the National day (Constitution day) here in Norway. This is why I have included the Norwegian flag.

We are now in the middle of the Giro. This is stage 11 of 21. We (or the riders) have done 10 stages before today, and it remains 10 stages when today’s stage is completed.

Yesterday was as I hoped, and expected. Tom Dumoulin gained so much time on Nairo Quintana that Quintana has to attack. In the week.end, and even more next week, the giro goes into the mountains. Here Nairo Quintana must attack, not only to catch up with Tom Dumoulin. The final stage of the Giro is another ca 30 km time trail. Nairo Quintana will need a time buffer before this time trial, to win the Giro. This should give us a lot of action. I also liked that Geraint Thomas did a good time trial, and climbed to a good position in the GC. But he is too far behind to win the Giro.

Today, there are four classified climbs. But from the last summit, there are 25 km more or less downhill to the finish. I do not think that the GC-contenders will attack, after having used a lot of energy in yesterday’s time trial. If they attack on the last climb, it will be difficult to maintain a lead to the finish. The sprint teams will not be strong enough to control the peloton. I think it will be a break away with riders who took it easy yesterday, and are no threats to the GC-contenders, can make it to the finish.

When I saw the details of today’s stage, I was disappointed. We start in Florence, the heart of Tuscany. The stage follows the only route out of Florence that does not go through any wine district.

If we choose almost any other way than today’s stage out of Florence, we will come into Tuscany’s most famous wine region: Chianti.


Chianti is Tuscany’s heart and soul. It is made from Sangiovese, sometimes with some other grapes.

Chianti was “invented” by baron Bettino Riascoli i the middle of the 19th century. He made a recipe which said it should be Sangiovese, with some Canaiolo added to soften the wine. The recipe has been changed many times since that.

Chianti_ClassicoThe producers in the orginal area did not like that many others sold their wines as Chianti. In 1924 they formed a producers association, the first in Italy: Gallo Nero — The black rooster. 95% of the Chianti Classico producers are now members of Gallo Nero. Gallo Nero is the logo of Chianti Classico. I do not know why it says 1716 on the label.

Chianti was, as som many wines, in decline until the 1970s. The productoin was high, and the quality low. They blended in to much white/green grapes, sometimes as much as 30%, and they blended in low quality wind from Soutern Italy.

Chianti_bastflaskeChianti was for a long time mainly known for the straw covered bottle fiasco (“flask”; pl. fiaschi), more than for the wine in the bottle. It may have been good for marketing. People did not know much about Italian wine, and maybe there was not too much of interest to know some decades ago. But the knew the Chianti bottle, and Chianti was the Italian wine. But things have changed. Serious producers wanted that their wine should be known for the content in the bottles, not just for the bottles. They wanted to escape from the cheap tourist wine image.

I visited Italy for the first time when I was traveling on Inter Rail in the mid 1970s. It was very exiting for me, who had hardly been outside of Norway at the time. I remember the Chianti bottles, not the wine. When the train stopped at the stations, sellers where walking along the train with their trolleys, shouting “Birra! Chianti vino!” But with my travel budget at the time, it was important that the wine was cheap. I could not afford to think about quality.

Through the years, the area for classified Chianti has been expanded, and some will say watered out. In Italy “Classico” designates the original production area, which is often the best area. Chianti got DOCG classification in 1984, and Chianti Classico their own DOCG in 1996.

Gambero Rosso Italian Wines use glasses as symbol of classication. Three glasses, (Tre Bicchieri) is awarded to an excellent wine in its category. When a producer has been awarded ten Tre Bicchieris, it is awarde a star. Another ten Tre Bicchieris, and they get a new star. The Piemont producer Gaja is on top of the list of Italian producers, with five starts for 54 Tre Bicchieris. A star designates a producer with consistent, high quality over time.

This year, 19 Chinati Classico-producers have been awarded Tre Bicchieri. The Chianti Classico producers who have been awardes stars, are:

  • Marchesi Antinori **
  • Barone Ricasoli **
  • Brancaia *
  • Castellare di Castellina *
  • Castello di Ama **
  • Castello di Fonterutoli ***
  • Fattoria di Felsina **
  • Tenute Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari *
  • Fontodi **
  • Isole e Olena **
  • Ruffino (not to be confused with the area Rufina) *
  • San Felice *

A top producer does not produce only top wines. The majority of the large producers have wines in many categories and price levels.

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

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