Wines (and some other drinks) of Giro d’Italia 2017. Stage 20: Pordenone — Asiago

At last, sucess for Mikel Landa. Nairo Quintana took the pink jersey. He has a 38 seconds lead over Tom Dumoulin, 43 to Nibali and 53 to Pinot. This is probaly enough to beat Tom Dumoulin after the final time trial. Many experts have expressed opinions on how much lead Quintana will need. I do not know the riders well enough to have an opinion on that, but he will need somewere between 30 sec and 1min 30 sec inn addition to the 38 seconds he have. We do not have the answer before Sunday.

Tom Dumoulin came to the Giro as an underdog. But he has been strong, and even more important: Smart. I like smart people, and hope Tom Dumoulin will win the Giro.

we start in the wine district where we ended yesterday, Friuli Grave. But we do not open any wines from here today. After a short ride, the riders will cross the border to Veneto, and will de in Veneto for the rest of the stage.

Today will be a day of bubbles. We will mainly dring the popular sparkling wine prosecco.

It was not before prosecco had become very popular, in 2009, that the producers took steps to protect the wine. But they had a problem: Prosecco is the name of a grape, not a district. The classification system is a system to protect wines (and other products) from a specified area. It can be a wine produced from one or more grapes grown in the specified area. We have seen this many times in Italy, the classification is grape + district, such as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. But it can also be a district without a specified grape, such as Barolo and Barbaresco (but the criterias set for the classification will specify grapes, even if it is not part of the name). But a classification cannot be the grape only. Anyone can make a wine from chardonnay or merlot, and put cardonnay or merlot on the labet (some classifications says the varietal cannot be put on the label, but we do not go into these details). In the same way, any producer could make wine from the prosecco grape, and put prosecco on the label.

The Italians found a creative solution. They found a small village, close to Trieste, called Prosecco, marked with redd letters on the map below. They used this village as a geographical anchor, and defined the production area Prosecco. This meant that the production area was expanded and extended to the east, compared with the traditional production area for prosecco. Traditionally, prosecco was produced in Veneto.
Now, four districts in Fruili Venezia Gulio are included: Gorizia, Pordenone, Trieste and Udine, in addition to five districts in Veneto: Treviso, Venice, Vicenza, Padua, Belluno. The production area for prosecco is:

But what about the grape prosecco? As we have seen many times during this giro, there are many local names for the grapes in Italy. They found such a local name, Glera, and renamed the grape. Now the official name of the grape is Glera, not prosecco. A change in the official name will not mean very much for what people will call the grape, but the varietal specified on the label.

The name of a classification does not have to be a geographical area. But it cannot be what is a generic componet in wines, such as a varietal name. I have not studied this in any depth, but it resembles the requirement for trade marks. If we stick to sparkling wines, the Spanish Cava is not a geographical name. It simply means cellar. But according to EU regulations, the classification must have a geographical designation. The Spanish solved this by defining the production areas so that it include alle areas where this type of wine has been produced. But they can keep Cava as the label for the classification.

The classical production area for prosecco is Treviso, the area in light colour on the map above. This wine is classified Prosecco di Treviso DOC.

If we move a step up in the hierarchy, we find Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG , as I have also seen called Prosecco di Conegliano Valobbidane Superiore DOCG. Besides this, there is Prosecco Colli Asolani DOCG. These are the two darker areas in Treviso. På toppen av denne pyramiden er Superiore di Cartizze DOCG. The name Prosecco shall not be used with this classification. But I violate this imediatly: This is the grand cru of prosecco.

There have been many changes in the classified areas since this started in 2009, and the information from various sources are not consistent. As I do not read Italian, I cannot go to the official documents of classification. I cannot guarantee that there is nothing I have overlooked or misunderstood here.

The establishment of Prosecco DOC means a substantial enlargement of the production area. When this happens, and it is a very popular wine, it will usually mean a large volume of rather simple wines that are easy to drink and easy to forget.

Prosecco is generally a rather simple sparkling wine. For this reason, I think it is good that it comes the day before the final. It is a kind of everyday wine, and not a wine for the grat occations. I have many good memories from drinking prosecco at cafes in Venice.

I do not like that they splash and spill wine at the podium. But when they do, it is after all good that they do it with a wine like prosecco, and not a better wine.

Sparkling wine is wine with carbondioxyde (CO2). The fermentation produces alcohol and carbondioxyde. Usually, this CO2 disappears into the atmosphere. Originally, sparkling wines happend by accident.The wine was produced and bottled in the autumn. With low temperature the fermentation stopped, even if not all the sugar had fermented. When the temperature started to rise in the spring, the fermentation started again inside the bottles. The bottles and the corks were not made to take the pressure. The bottles were exploding and the corks popping.

The simplest way to make a sparkling wine, is to add CO2 under pressure to the wine. This is the way soda water is made. But I do not know any serious sparkling wine that is made this way. A friend of mine and me tried this once with a bottle of red wine. We had a big CO2-flask, put the bottle in a chamber, sealed it and put it under CO2-pressure. It was a lot of foam and bubbles, but it did not taste good.

Usually a sparkling wine is first produced as a still wine. Then new must, and mabye yeast, is added for a second fermentation. For simpler sparkling wines, like most of the prosecco, this is done in a tank. CO2 is dissolved in the wine, it is bottled and corked. Usually a sparkling wine has a pressure like six atmospheres. Prosecco is usually produced withe lower pressure, three atmospheres.

The better sparkling wines are made with the traditional method, called metodo classico in Italian. The second fermentation is done in the bottle. Some prosecco is made with traditional method. But these are exeptions. We will come back to this method tomorrow.

There are three classified climbs, one third category and two first category. The first of the first category climbs, is Monte Grappa.

Then it is time for some grappa, even if grappa is not a classification based on geography. The original meaning of the word ‘grappa’ is grape stalks. Grappa is what is called a pomace brandy, made in most wineproducing areas. It is made from what is left of the grapes after the wine production: skins, pulp, seeds, and stems of the fruit. Here is container with pomace that could have been used to make this kind of brandy. But as this is from France, Mas Bruguiere, Pic Saint Loup in Languedoc it could not be grappa. In Frane, this kind of liquer is called Marc. This is from “my” district in France: Languedoc. I have never seen marc from Mas Bruguiere. But to be honest, I have not looked for it either.


But only a fraction of what is left after wine production is destilled. Most of it is used either as fodder for animals, or as fertilizer.

The taste can vary, according to the varietal it is made from. But the taste is usualle rather raw. Grappe has become popular. My impression is that many see grappa as more macho than brandies. The name Grappa is protected in Europe. To be called Grappa, it must be:

  1. Made in Italy, the Italian speaking regions in Switzerland, or San Marino.
  2. Made from what is left after wine production.
  3. The fermentation and distillation must be from what is left after the wine production. Water cannot be added.

In other countries, similar products have different names, like Marc in France, Orujo in Spain and Raki or something simialar on Balkan.

Grappa is not my favourite. I do not drink much hard liquer,and I prefer cognac or armagnac over grappa.

Tom Stevenson: Christie's World Encyclopedia of Champagne & sparkling wine

1402772246This book is the international refernce when it comes to sparkling wines. The title says Champagne & sparkling wine, and it should come as no surprise that champage get the broadest coverage. Og the book'a 500 pages, 150 are dedicated to champagne, 50 to a general introduction to sparkling wine, and 300 pages to sparkling wines from other regions than Champagne. More than 1600 wines are rated.

Buy it from Amazon UK or Amazon US.


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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