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Wines and other drinks of Giro d’Italia 2018: Stage 11. Assisi — Osimo

Today it is a stage with much up and down, but with no very chanllenging mountains. And the mountains are in the first part of the stage. But the finish is an ascent of ca 2 km, which means that this is not a stage for the sprinters.

We start in Umbria, in the birth town of Francis of Assisi. The classified wines from here are Assisi DOC. It includes many wines. They mainly produce a red from a blend of Sangiovese and Merlot. The same blend is also used for rosé. But they also produce varietal wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir (Pinot Nero).

Continue reading Wines and other drinks of Giro d’Italia 2018: Stage 11. Assisi — Osimo

Wine and some other drinks of Tour de France 2017: Stage 5. Vittel — La planche des belles filles

Peter Sagan’s tackling of Mark Cavendish was ugly and dangerous. But a lot happens in a spirnt, when the adrenaline is boiling. I think the reaction was too hard. But I am not going to discuss this. But three personalities are now out of the Tour: Valverde, Cavendish and Sagan.

Today, the finish is at the top of a first category climb. This is not a stage for the sprinters. It may be a too early to expect attacs from the GC-contenders. But some typical climbers will probably go for a stage win.

When a stage in the Tour in 2012 ended at La planche des belles filles, we could read at the Tour de France site that the placed after the women in the valley tried to escape the vikings who invaded the area in the 1400s. The vikings have been blamed for much, often with reason. But they have had their historiy written by their enemies. More recent research have shown that they were more traders than the myths tell us. But apart from that, I have never heard that they travelled up in the mountain areas in France. It is most common to say that the age of the vikings ended in 1050, som will say that it ended with the battle of Hastings in 1066. But it defiently did not last until the 1400s. According to French Wikipedia the place is named after an episode i 30 years war in 1635, when the women fled from Swedish soldiers. We Norwegians love when we can blame the Swedes. And the 30 years war was long after the age of the vikings had ended.

Today it is difficult to find wine. We start and for the most of the day stay in the departement Vosges, and as far as I have found, there are no classified wines producec in this departement, not even on IGP-level. But we can at least bring some water from the start.

When searching for information, I came across vin bleu, or blue wine. It is made from the grapes Oberlin and Kuhlmann, both are unknown to me. They have applied for protection, but I have not read about the result of the process. The production is small, ca 10 000 liter per year. It will not be easy to find this wine outside of the district.

The stage ends in the departement Haute-Saône, in the IGP classified district Franche-Comté Haut Saône. They produce red, rosé and white, but this is as much I know.

The finish is at the top. If we will find interesting wine, we have to roll down on the other side, and a bit north, to Alsace. I will not go into the details, we will do that a year the Tous visits Alsace.

I recommend cycling in Alsace. Cycling and wine is a good combination, and Alsace is a good place to make the combination.

Colmar is a good point of departure for cycling trips to the wine producers in Alsace. If Colmar is your base camp, you can make many day trips out in the vineyards and to the producerss.

You can find many small, romantic villages in Alsace.

Alsace is further south than Rheingau and Mosel. The grapes ripen better, and they do not have the same problems with low sugar. In Alsace they have been making dry riesling for a long time, longer than in Germany. After I had had enough of semidry, German wines, I turned to Alsace for riesling. But now they make good, dry wines in Germany. I am rediscovering German wines.

In Alsace, they make white wines from Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer ad riesling, They also make red wine from Pinot Noir, and a very good Crémant d’Alsace.

The  World Atlas of Wine

1845336895If 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".

Buy it from Amazon UK or  Amazon US.

The Oxford Companion to Wine

0198705387If you want to have a more encylopedic book on wines, Jancis Robinsons and Julia Child: The Oxford Companion to Wine is the one to have. It is an encyclopedia of wine, with articles on not everything, but as close as you can get in one volume. It is written by on of the world's leading experts on wine.

I have the third edition, published in 2006. It is now in its foruth edition, published in 2015. A lot has happened in the wine business since 2006. So maybe I should get myself a copy of the most recent edition. It is available in hardcover edition and Kindle edition. When reading a book from beginning to end, I like Kindle. But when jumping around from one article to another, I prefer the paper version. An e-version of a book like this should be organized like a database, not as a "book".

Order from Amazon US: Kindle edition, or Hardcover edition.

Order from Amazon UK: Kindle edition, or Hardcover edition.


Grand Atlas des vignobles de France

2263046607This is the kind of atlas I would like to have for all wine producing countries in the world. Good  and detaield maps, with informative text. Could we wish for more? Some may wish for another laguage, as this is in French only.

Order from:

Amazon FR
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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Wines (and some other drinks) of Giro d’Italia 2017 – Stage 9: Montenero di Bisaccia — Blockhaus

There was a bit more action yesterday. Maybe we can get some more. After the Etna-stage, Geraint Thomas said that no one wantet to dig deep the first week in the Giro. But they cannot hold back too long. Today it is top-finish after a hard climb, then a rest day, and Tuesday there is time trial. If they dig deep today, they will at least have the rest day for restitution. After Tuesday and the time trial, there will be time differences.

A grand tour is won in the mountains and the time trials. On these stages it is possible to win significant time, which one do not do on flat sprint stages. The strong climbers, who may not be very good time trialers, may try to get at time buffer before the time trial.

The stage starts i Molise, follows the coast of Abruzzo, before turning inland to the highest place in Abruzzo: Blockhaus. As we understand form the name, this is not an Italian name. It is German, from the time the Habsburgs dominated the area. Blockhaus is a guards house.

When I come to this area when writing about wine and Giro d’Italia, I include a reminder of the typical naming of classifications in Italy: They often are [Grape] + [region]. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo are wines made from Montepulciano, in Abruzzo. Trebbiano d’Abruzzo are wines made from Trebbiano in Abruzzo. But it can also be wine type + place. In Tuscany, there is a town named Montepulciano. There they produce Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. It is made from Sangiovese, and the Montepulciano grape has to my knowledge no connection to the town Montepulciano. The first time I drank Montepulciano d*Abuzzo, or at least the first time I remember drinking it, I did not know that. I was probably not the first, and will not be the last to make this error. I knew Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, at least to some extent. I was surprised how light bodied the Montepulciano d*Abuzzo was, compared to the Montepulciano wine I knew. But I eventually learned the difference.

Controguerra is located further north from today’s stage, and we do not include it this year.There is also a DOCG-classification for Montepulciano-wine from Abruzzo, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane. But this district is also to the north of today’s stage. Cerasuolo overlaps with Montepulciano d*Abuzzo and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. This DOC is for rosé. There is also a wider DOC, called Abruzzo DOC, which has brought some high quality Montepulciano wines under DOC-Classificatoin, like som Terre di Casauria, Terre dei Vestini and Alto Tirino. But apart from this very brief information, I have only found information on this in Italian. And as I do not read Italian, it is not of very much help to me.

The stage goes through the small areas Villamagna DOC og Ortona DOC. These areas got ther DOC-Classificatoin in 2011. Villamanga covers red wine made from Montepulciano, and Ortona in addition to the red, include white made from Trebbiano. They do not distinguish themselves very much from similar areas in Abruzzo.

Trebbiano is a grape grown many places in Italy. I am sure they grow Montepulciano other places as well. But Montepulciano really shines in Abruzzo. So in my opinion, the wine of today should be a Montepulciano from Abruzzo.

After this stage, there is a rest day.

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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Wines (and some other drinks) of Giro d’Italia 2016 – Stage 18: Muggió — Pinerolo

Giro_2016_00-18It was a strange finish on yesterday’s stage. It looked almost link no one would go for a win.

Today is another flat stage, but with a difficult last part. The sprinters will have difficulties up the last climb, and the 20 km from the top to the finish is probably not enough to catch up with the front.


We Norwegians have good cycling memories from Pinerolo. Tour de France 2011 was the golden year for Norway. Two Norwegians were riding: Thor Hushovd and Edvald Boasson-Hagen. They had two stage victories each. It was the year when even the French sports newpaper l’Equipe was writing about Thor de France. And they were calculating that if the French riders had the same success rate as the Norwegians, the French riders should have 67,5 stage wins this year. Thor Hushovd won stage 16 before Edvald Boasson Hagen.  Thor Hushovd had his then team mate Ryder Hesjedal  to help him in the finsih, som it was a two against one in the finish. Edvald Boasson Hagen did not like to be beaten. The next day, on stage 17 from Gap to Pinerolo, he got his revenge. The last part of the stage was the same as the last part of stage 18 in this years’s Giro. They come into Pinerolo, go up to Pramartino and then down to Pinerolo. It is a hard climb up to Pramartino, and a difficult descent down to Pinerolo. Edvald attaced before the top, and none could follow him down the descent. Andy Schleck was complaining, saying that the descent was too difficult and dangerous. I saw a summary from a British TV-channel on YouTube, and remember their expert commentator saying: He has brakes on his bike, he decides when to use them. And that it is not enouch to be good at going up, you must be able to go fast dwonhill as well. But enough of sweet memories. We have to find something to drink.

We are starting a little bit north of Milan, in Lombardia. But we do not find interesting wines in the part of Lombardia that we will be going through today. But we soon come into Piedmont, n that is competing with Tuscany to be the No 1 wine region in Italy. The stage is passing between the most well known wine districts in Peidmont. The most famous wine districs are to the south. But we will come closer  to these at the final stage. Today we will go a bit to the north, to good, but not as famous districts.

We can start with Colline Novaresi, north of Novara. They produce wine from Nebbiolo, Uva Rara (Bonarda), Barbera, Vespolina and Croatina. A similar area a bit further west i Coste della Sesia.

But in between the two, on the southern side, are to interesting areas: Ghemme and Gattinara. Gattinara is the one to the west. If we go back in time, to the mid 1800s, it had a reputation as good as Barolo. But the area was going through a long lasting crisis. But Gattinara has recovered, and is about to regain its good reputation. An area that is up and comming, as Gattinara is now, will often give good value for the money. We do not pay as much for the name and the label as we often will do with more famous wines like Barolo and Barbaresco. Good producers are Antoniolo, Travaglini, Torraccia del Pantavigna and Sergio Gattinara.

Gattinara’s eastern neighbour, Ghemme is a similar area, and their wines can remind of the wines from Gattinara. Producers that are often mentioned, are Cantalupo, Platinetti, Rovellotti og Toraccia del Piantavigna.

We then jump to the finsih. Pinerolese DOC is the area around Pinerolo. Classified wines are made from Bonarda piemonese, Dolcetto and Fresia.

Two special and rare wines from the area are  Doux d’Henry and Ramie.

Doux d’Henry is named after the grape with teh same name. It is said that it is named after the French king Henry IV, who travelled through this area in the 1600s.

The production is small, ca 5000 bottles a year. I have never tasted the wine. But if I should come across a bottle of Doux d’Henry, I will be very intersting to taste it.

Ramie is only produced in the two municipalities  Pomaretto og Perosa Argentina, at small, terraced vineyards.  The origin of the name Ramie, is an unsolved mystery. It is made from several local grapes, with minimum amount given: Avana (30%), Avarengo (15%) og Neretto (20%). Up to 35% can be other grapes. The production is small, about the same as Doux d’Henry.

Wines (and some other drinks) of Giro d'Italia 2016

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