The spring classics are underway and the longest one day race of them all happened this past weekend. Milan-San Remo, also known as la Classica di Primavera, begins in Milan and travels West to finish in San Remo. The riders typically start in blustery, cold, conditions and finish on the warmer shores of the Mediteranean Sea. This year there was snow on the first mountain pass that stood in the racer's path. So much snow that the race had to be stopped and re-started on the other side of the pass. The Italian's like a spectacle, but even this was too much for their sensibilities.
This year's edition of la Classica was shortened to a mere 246 km from the original 298 km. Even at that length, the race still covered more than 130 miles to finish in a sprint featuring six riders that got away from the remnants of the peloton on the descent of the Poggio (usually you see a break away happen on the way UP a climb, not on the way DOWN - a good indication of the foul weather).
This week's Lucha Vino challenge honors Italian flare and the primary red grape of Northern Italy with a Barbera Brawl.
2009 Hard Row to Hoe Barbera v. 2010 Podere Ruggeri Corsini Armujan Barbera d'Alba
Tale of the Tape
2009 Hard Row to Hoe Barbera
Barbera from the Red Mountain AVA
Purchased at the winery for $26.00
2010 Podere Ruggeri Corsini Armujan Barbera d'Alba
100% estate grown Barbera from Langhe- Monforte d'Alba
Purchased for $28.50 from Laurel's Cannon Beach Wine Shop in Oregon.
Round 1. First opening
Hard Row is bringing the hurt. The nose features earthy raspberry and light spices. The palate also shows some earthy character along with brambles, red berries and cedar asian spices that carry over to a menthol finish.
Armujan counter attacks with a nose of earth, dry dark berries and subtle spices. The palate is tart with cedar spices and red berries with a creamy dry tart red berry finish.
The first round is close with Hard Row taking the points by the slimmest of margins.
Round 2. One hour after opening
Hard Row is putting on the hustle with a nose of raspberry, loganberry and licorice clove spices.
The palate is similar with berries, bramble spice and a nice tart coffee bean and spice finish.
Armujan is still wound up pretty tight. The nose is showing tart dark red berry and cedar mingled with savory soy sauce. The palate is dry and tart with red berries and earthy spices with a finish that is tart dry and lightly spiced.
The Piemonte challenger is still trying to find its groove. This Luchador is pretty up tight. In the other corner Hard Row has loosened up and powered up, easily taking round 2.
Round 3. One day after opening
Hard Row is continuing to bulk up with a nose of black cherry, leather, earth, smokey campfire and paprika. The palate is showing cherry, brambles and menthol clove spices the finish features tart coffee bean and cedar spices.
Armujan is locked up. In fact, the Italian challenger is lost in a mighty headlock from the Hard Row Hustler. The Armujan Barbera d'Alba has evolved with a nose that is dark and brooding with eucalyptus and some floral overtones. The palate is showing cherry, violet and lavender with a light cedar spice finish.
The Armujan is evolving but not quick enough to score any points against the bruiser from Hard Row.
Wrap up and overall observations.
The 2009 Hard Row Barbera is drinking really well right now. It gets darker and spicier with air and time out of the bottle. It also develops some nice floral overtones as well. This is a really nice example of Barbera from the Red Mountain AVA.
The Piemonte Barbera d'Alba was a bit tight and nervous. This Luchador could benefit from some more time in training or resting in the cellar.