This is the start of the final week of the Giro. Now it is mountains, mountains and mountains, until the final time trial. If Nairo Quintana still have any hope of winning the giro, he must attack now. Today it is a long stage, 222 km, with three very hard climbs. The riders are crossing the iconic Stelvia pass two times. Or, to be precise, it is not correct. They will cross the Stelvia pass, make a turn, ride into Switzerland, and ride up from the Swiss side, known as the Umbrail-pass, where they come into the road to Stelvio a little below the highest point. From here they ride down the road they have been riding up to Stelvio, down to Bormio. I am glad that I will be watching this on TV, and not will ride the stage. (I would probably not have mastered the first climb, to Montirolo.)
When the riders go into the mountains, it becomes difficult to find wine. We are to high for wine production, with a few exceptions. Some places they grow grapes on southern facing slopes, where the grapes are exposed to the sun.
Today’s stage passes not too far from such an area. If we hard turned west in Edolo, where the riders head to north-northeast i direction Montirolo, we would have arrived in Valtellina. Valtellina goes from Tirano, ca 15 km southwest of where the riders come down from Mortirolo, to lake Como to the west. Lake Como stabilise the climate in the western end. But as we, or rather the riders, are passing a bit away, we will not go into the details this time.
The wines from Valtellina are Rosso di Valtellina DOC, Valtellina Superiore DOCG and Sforzato di Valtellina DOCG. The two first are red wines made mainly from Nebbiolo, which must be at least 90% of the wine. to make it difficult for us outsiders, they use the local name Chiavennasca. Nebbiolo is one of the main grapes in Piedmont.
The sides of Valtellina (the Tellina valley) are steep and terraced, and make the production very difficult.
Dalsidene hvor vinen dyrkes i Valtellina er bratte og terrasserte, så dyrkingen er krevende. Paolo Bombardieri from Nino Negri says that the best way to transport the harvest from the vinyards with helicopter. Then they can do the job in 80 minutes. The alternative is to have 10 persons work for 550 hours.
The wines from Valtellina are a bit similar to the nebbiolo wines from northern Piedmont. They are not as powerful as Barolo, but have a fine aroma, acid and tanninic structure as is typical for Nebbiolo. Arpepe is an interesting produc er.
Sforzato is a wine made in the same way as Amarone, and is what the Italians call passioto wine. It is made partly from dries grapes. But it is a dry wine, as Amarone, not sweet as the majority of the passioto wines. The grapes must but dried for at least 110 days. The classic Sforzato di Valtellina wine is full-bodied, high in alcohol and rich in flavor. It offers complex aromas of sweet spices (licorice, cloves and cinnamon), stewed plums, prunes, raisins, and the tell-tale hint of tar and roses.
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.
Mountain High: Europe's 50 Greatest Cycle Climbs
If you, like me, want to know more about where they are cycling, particularly about the climbs, Mountain High: Europe's 50 Greatest Cycle Climbs by Daniel Friebe and Pete Goding is the book to have. The book covers 50 of Europe's greatest climbs, among them several of the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia classics. We get description, history, technical details and stunning pictures.
Mountain Higher: Europe's Extreme, Undiscovered and Unforgettable Cycle Climbs
If you like "Mountain High", and want more, there is a follow up by the same authors. The format is the same. But it covers less known mountain climbs.
Wines (and some other drinks) of Giro d'Italia 2017
- Stage 1: Alghero -- Olbia
- Stage 2: Olbia -- Tortolì
- Stage 3: Tortolì -- Cagliari
- Stage 4: Cefalù -- Etna
- Stage 5: Pedara -- Messina
- Stage 6: Reggio Calabria -- Terme Luigiane
- Stage 7: Castrovillari -- Alberobello (Valle d'Itria)
- Stage 8: Molfetta — Peschici
- Stage 9: Montenero di Bisaccia — Blockhaus
- Stage 10: Foligno -- Montefalco
- Stage 11: Firenze (Ponte A Ema) — Bagno de Romagna
- Stage 12: Forlì — Reggio Emilio
- Stage 13: Reggio Emilia — Tortona
- Stage 14: Castellania — Oropa (Biella)
- Stage 15: Valdengo — Bergamo
- Stage 16: Rovetta — Bormio
- Stage 17: Tirano — Canazei (Val di Fassa)
- Stage 18: Moena (Val di Fassa) — Oristei/St. Ulrich (Val Gardena)
- Stage 19: San Candido/Innichen — Piancavallo
- Stage 20: Pordenone — Asiago
- Stage 21: Monza — Milano
Tour de France