The Vuelta a Espana started a week ago in North Central Spain and began following the race route to the East through the Navarra, Aragon and Catalunya DOs heading toward Barcelona. The first week of the race featured a variety of terrain with a couple of uphill finishes forcing the favorites to actually race their bikes in the early part of this grand tour.
The Spanish racers are always motivated to make a good showing at their home race. So, it is not surprising to see Joaquim Rodriguez in the leader's red jersey at the end of the first week of racing.
The Vuelta also features the return of Alberto Contador from his ban for testing positive for Clenbuterol (or as his story goes ingesting the illegal drug via a tainted piece of Spanish beef, sure...). Contador's form is a mystery. He has been near the top of the field for the first week of the race, but has not shown the dominating style he flashed prior to his ban. Is he faking? Was he doping? And now a "clean" Alberto Contador cannot match the doped up Contador performance? Who knows?
Regardless of the Contador mystery, the racing has been compelling so far. Continuing the mystery theme the Lucha Vino matchup features a mystery Grenache from Walla Walla this week.
2009 Renegade Wine Co. Grenache v. 2007 Celler de Capcanes Mas Donis Barrica
Tale of the Tape
2009 Renegade Wine Co. Grenache
Mystery Grenache from Walla Walla purchased from Full Pull for $13.49. Check out the link for all the details on this mysterious Luchador.
Here are a few more clues.
2007 Celler de Capcanes Mas Donis Barrica
85% Garnacha and 15% Syrah
Aged for 9 months in first to fifth use mixture of American and French Oak
Purchased from Esquin for $11.99
Round 1. First opening
Who is that masked Luchador? People just call him The Renegade. Strutting into the ring this man of mystery is showing a nose of dark berry, barnyard funk and sandal wood. The palate also shows off dark berries and some tart cedar bark at the end of palate that lingers on to finish.
Mas Donis is spicing things up with a nose that features raspberry, pie cherry and tart cedar. The palate is showing raspberry, clove and menthol spices along with a nice tart spicy finish.
These combatants are showing off two distinct styles. The Renegade is a heavy hitter while the Mas Donis is flashing some spicy speed.
The first round is really close with the Mas Donis just edging out the Renegade.
Round 2. One hour after opening
The Renegade is blowing up. The nose is getting funky with dark fruit, ground coffee and green pepper. The palate is blasting dark fruit and white pepper with a tart spicy finish.
The Mas Donis isn't intimidated showing a nose of dark berries, brambles, sandalwood, cracked pepper and candle wax. The palate is getting aggressive too with dark berries, clove and menthol spices with a nice tart pepper spiced finish.
The Spanish Luchador is running circles around our Walla Walla enigma. Another round goes to Mas Donis.
Round 3. One day after opening
What's this? The Renegade is going all in, leaping from the top rope like Randy Macho Man Savage aiming to take out Mas Donis with one mighty flying elbow drop. The nose continues to feature sandal wood, barnyard funk, brambles and dark berries. The palate is also showing dark berries with a tart pepper finish.
Mas Donis side steps the elbow drop and delivers a wicked leg whip taking out the dazed and confused Renegade. The nose is showing dark fruit, candle wax and eucalyptus. The palate is featuring dark fruit, menthol and clove spices that continue on to a nicely tart finish.
The Renegade went for the gusto and struck out. Losing the match 3-0 as the Mas Donis took the final round for a clean sweep.
Wrap up and overall observations
The match was closer than the 3-0 score would indicate. Both of these Luchadors flashed their own unique style and were worthy combatants in the ring. The mystery Renegade showed off the rich full character that I have come to associate with wines from Walla Walla. The Mas Donis from Montsant brought a spicy attitude (possibly the 15% Syrah in the blend?). Spicy ultimately won out over the heavy hitter in this match.
I give the Mas Donis an 88 and the Renegade a solid 87.