The Giro d'Italia got underway in Sicily winding its way South and then East toward Puglia and the heel of the boot. The first week of racing saw the race favorites attacking and battling much more than is usual for the first week of a Grand Tour.
At the first rest day Vincenzo Nibali is wearing the leader's jersey, also known as the Maglia Rosa.
racers didn't spend much time in Puglia, but the route did pass through
this South Eastern Italian wine region. This week's match up features a
Washington Zinfandel taking on a Primitivo from Puglia. These grapes
are considered to be the same, but with different names.
2009 II Vintners Zinfandel v. 2010 Feudi Di San Marzano Primitivo Puglia
Tale of the Tape
2009 II Vintners Zinfandel
75% Zinfandel, 18% Primitivo, and 7% Petite Sirah from Stonetree Vineyard in the Wahluke Slope AVA
Purchased for $22.99 at Wine World & Spirits
2010 Feudi Di San Marzano Primitivo Puglia
100% Primitivo from Puglia
Aged for 5 to 6 months in French Oak Barrels
Purchased for $14.99 at Wine World & Spirits
Round 1. First Opening
Puglia Primitivo Pugilist strolls into the ring looking like a smooth
operator. The nose features dusty raspberry, candle wax and faint anise
spice. The palate is lush with notes of raspberry, tart cranberry,
cedar and white pepper that wraps up with a finish that is slightly tart
and plush like a velour pillow.
The II Vintners Zinfandel
is bringing the funk with a nose that gives off a wicked scent of wet
dog, seaweed, smoke and sandalwood. The palate delivers the goods with
dark red berry and clove spices that lead to a tart cracked pepper
The nose on the II Vintners lead me to doubt
this Luchador's pedigree. The palate and finish followed through with a
solid performance, but it was not enough to overtake the Primitivo from
Puglia. Round 1 goes to the Italian Luchador.
Round 2. One hour after opening
Primitivo from Puglia is beefing up and working to batter the II
Vintners. The nose is showing darker fruit, savory soy, umami, smoke
and cracked pepper. The palate is featuring dark tart berries, clove, white peppercorn and hints of licorice vines all finishing off tart and spicy.
II Vintners has settled down and swings into action with a wicked
clothes line to the Italian's throat. The nose is rich and full of dark
fruit, savory soy and light pepper. The palate is showing dark fruit,
roasted coffee and tart cocoa powder leading to a finish that is dark
with coffee bean and light menthol spices.
The II Vintners responded to the first round wakeup call and took round 2 by the slightest of margins.
Round 3. One day after opening
Puglia is getting spicy and sassy for the final round throwing nasty
looks at the judges and taunting the crowd. The nose has evolved to
show dusty dark cherry, soy and menthol. The palate is driving home the
elements of a diverse attack with dark cherry, clove, cinnamon and
cracked pepper with a tart eucalyptus finish.
Vintners Zinfandel is fighting back with a nose that is showing off dark
black fruit, light white pepper and savory soy notes. The palate is
dark with rich berry, cola, smokey coffee bean, cloves and tart cocoa
with an Asian spice finish.
This final round is hard to
call and the winner will take the overall match. After huddling the
judges have awarded the round and the match to the Feudi di San Marzano Primitivo. The crowd is going nuts and so is the II Vintners Zinfandel. It looks like the Puglia Primitivo is going to need a police escort to exit the building!
Wrap up and overall observations
Primitivo from Puglia was surprising. I have not tasted many Italian
Primitivos and the few that I have tasted have not impressed. At $14.99
the Feudi di San Marzano delivers the goods and then some. I would
definitely recommend searching out this Southern Italian Luchador if you
enjoy a rich spicy red wine.
The II Vintners stalled
out of the gate and then built some serious momentum and strength as the
match went on. This Washington state Zinfandel brings the power that
you would expect from a Zin. It is rich, spicy and hearty. I would
open this one and give it an hour or so to relax and breath before pouring and
enjoying. Another winner from II Vintners, but sadly, not a winner in
this Italian inspired matchup.
The Italians have a passion for bicycle racing
that is matched by relatively few nations. The Giro d' Italia is
considered the championship of Italy and the Tifosi (Italian cycling
fans) live and die with their favorite Italian racers. There are many
(non-Italians) that believe the race promoters design each year's course
to suit the strengths of the top Italian racers. You don't believe
me? Check out this quote from Vincenzo Nibali about the first Time
Trial course "It was like the first half of the course was made for
me." Conspiracy theory? Perhaps. Either way, it makes for exciting
racing. If you haven't already, check out the Giro before it is over.
Three weeks can go by in an awful hurry!