Thursday, May 31, 2012

Washington Barbera v. Piedmont

The Giro d'Italia finished up in Northern Italy last weekend passing through Piedmont or Piemonte, one of the most famous Italian wine regions.  The final three days of racing were extremely demanding with two huge mountain stages on Friday and Saturday followed by an Individual Time Trial on Sunday.  The General Classification was so close that the final result was in question until the completion of the Time Trial in Milan.

This Giro was a series of firsts including the first Grand Tour win by a Canadian - Ryder Hesjedal, first Grand Tour win for Garmin Baracuda and the first Giro d'Italia put on by new race director Michele Acquarone.

This week's Lucha Vino match features its own trifecta with an Old World Barbera grappling with two New World opponents.  One from Washington the other from Oregon.  Both featuring Washington grapes.

2008 IULI Rossore Barbera v. 2007 Hard Row to Hoe Shameless Hussy Barbera And 2009 Cana's Feast Barbera

Friday, May 25, 2012

Walla Walla Cab v. Napa

This week I take a break from following the Giro and chase the pro peleton through California.

The Tour of California is an 8 stage race that starts in Northern California and traces a route South ending in Los Angeles.  This race is a new comer to the pro race scene and after 3 years of racing in February moved to May to take on one of the three Grand Tours - the Giro d' Italia.  How much tradition is this California upstart taking on?  2012 marks the 95th edition of this race through Italy while 2012 marks the 7th edition of the Tour of California.

When you want to put on a show you go BIG.  The final stage of most of the big stage races, like the Tour de France, is really just a ceremony.  A spectacle celebrating the glory of the race and place, oh and don't forget the bike racers...

Where do you go for this type of spectacle in California?  Hollywood? Beverly Hills? Los Angeles?  How about all three?!  Yes, the Tour of California ended with a race that visited all three of these California hot spots.  The stage started in Beverly Hills, passed through Hollywood and then ended on the streets of Los Angeles.  The winner of the tour had already been decided the day before on the final mountain stage.  So that left this stage for the sprinters to go for glory one final time.  And Peter Sagan from Liquigas-Cannondale flexed his muscles again,  winning his 5th stage of the ToC.  I think that was a record.

If you are going to go big with California wine you can go a variety of places.  Napa, Sonoma County, the Central Coast ...  For this week's matchup we go to Napa the AVA some people consider to be the King of US Appelations.  And while we are at it we will select a Cabernet Sauvignon, the grape many consider to be the King of grapes.

This week's matchup features a new comer from Walla Walla Washington taking on the old timer from California.

2007 Skylite Cellars v. 2007 Beringer Private Reserve

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Washington Sangiovese v. Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

Once the Giro d' Italia hit Italy the racing got more interesting.  For me, one of the most exciting things is seeing North American riders spending more days in the Maglia Rosa than any other continent.  First Taylor Phinney of the USA and then Ryder Hesjedal from Canada have spent multiple days in the race leader's pink jersey.  Hesjedal is the first Canadian to ever wear the leader's jersey in the Giro and is a prime contender to win the overall when the race finishes up in Milan in another two weeks.

The route has been heading South along the Eastern edge of Italy.  The riders have raced through Emilia Romagna, Marches, Abruzzo and Molise wine regions.

This week the Lucha Vino challenge features a Montpulciano d'Abruzzo battling with a Washington State Sangiovese.  Celebrating Ryder Hesjedal, the first Canadian to wear the Maglia Rosa, this week's matchup is the first to pit two different grape varieties against one another.

2004 Kiona Reserve Sangiovese v. 2008 Nicodemi Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Oregon Amarone v. Amarone della Valpolicella

The Giro d'Italia started this weekend in Denmark.  The racers hit Italian soil in Verona on Wednesday May 9th for a Team Time Trial.  The Team Time Trial is a relatively unique event that does not occur in very many races.  The Giro d'Italia is one stage race that seems to offer up this unique race on a consistent basis.

Just like the Team Time Trial, Amarone is a unique style of wine that you do not find in very many places.  Verona, in the Veneto region, is one place that has focused on making this intense style of red wine.

This week the Lucha Vino challenge features an Italian original facing off against an Oregon new comer made from Columbia Valley grapes.

2008 Tre Nova Seccopassa v. 2007 Musella Amarone della Valpolicella

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Walla Walla Cross Town Throw Down

The Giro d'Italia is less than a week away and there is excitement in the air. Why? There are many reasons that the Giro stirs such emotion...
  • It is the first of the three grand tours (the others being the Tour de France and Vuelta Espana).
  • The start of the race coincides with what most Northern Hemisphere countries consider to be their Spring season.
  • The pace of the race is moderated by the Italian "Capos" which means that in the old days there were casual stops along the way for food and sustanance.
  • The Italian landscape is spectacular and you get to see a lot of it! Mountains, coastal areas and metropolitan centers.
  • The race has a certain style and flair to it that seems to be unique to Italy.
  • Every Italian bike racer dreams of winning their home tour.
Just like Italy is a hotbed for cycling, Walla Walla is a hotbed for Washington wine.  This unlikely giant, located in the far South East corner of Washington State, has generated a huge following and reputation for the Washington wine industry. You cannot talk about Washington wine without mentioning Walla Walla.

This week's matchup features two Walla Walla heavyweights in a cross town throw down. There are bragging rights on the line. Like the Italian bike racers, these Luchadors are high strung and highly motivated.  There are rumors of dirty dealing, rule bending and other underhanded behavior and that is before the match has even begun!

Like Mario Cipollini, who used to pull the race guide from his pocket and point out where the peloton was allowed to "race" over the day's route, these Luchadors may stoop to trickery to win this bout...

2006 Pepper Bridge Cabernet Sauvignon v. 2006 Beresan Cabernet Sauvignon