Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Washington Sangiovese vs. Chianti Classico

Any cyclist that has ever raced a criterium or cyclocross race is familiar with one of the final warnings given by the race official "Don't ride backward on the course!"  I'm not sure I have ever heard an official at a road race give the same warning.

So, what does that have to do with this week's Lucha Vino challenge?  I'm riding backward on the 2017 Giro d' Italia course!  My journey started in Piedmont and now I am tracing the route backward to Tuscany.

Stage 11 starts in Firenze (Florence) and travels East to Bagno di Romagna and includes five climbs along the way.  These types of stages are often the places that separate the men from the boys, the contenders from the pretenders, the climbers from the sprinters...  You get the picture.

This week's Lucha Vino match up features a Washington Sangiovese taking on a Chianti Classico from Tuscany.  Which one of these Luchadors will prove to be mightier than the other?

2014 Casa Smith Sangiovese v. 2013 Felsina Chianti Classico

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Washington Barbera v. Piedmont

Italy is one of the most cycling crazy nations in the world.  The pro race season wraps up with several one day races in Northern Italy in the Piedmont wine region.  If that wasn't reason enough to feature an Italian wine smack down, then the announcement of the 100th edition of the Giro d' Italia certainly is!

The Giro del Piemonte took place at the end of September with Italian Champion Giacomo Nizzolo taking a sprint victory on his home soil.

A few weeks later the route for the 100th edition of the Giro d'Italia was unveiled.  The 2017 route will start in Southern Italy, on the island of Sardinia.  The race will work its way North concluding in Milan after three breathtaking weeks of racing.

The next few Lucha Vino matchups will feature Casa Smith Italian inspired wines taking on a bevy of Italian challengers.

First up, this week's matchup features a Washington Barbera from Casa Smith taking on an Italian challenger from the Barbera d'Alba DOC.

2014 Casa Smith Barbera v. 2013 G.D. Vajra Barbera d'Alba

Washington Tempranillo v. Rioja

This year's Vuelta Espana hugged the Northern border of Spain during the second week of racing.  This brought the racers through a variety of terrain including stage 12 which ended in a sprint finish in the town of Bilbao.  The racing was tense throughout the middle section of the Vuelta.  Nairo Quintana, and his Movistar team, had their work cutout for them defending the leader's red jersey as the race traced its route through the Northern reaches of Spain. 

There aren't many wine regions along the Northern edge of Spain.  The race came closest to the Rioja DOC, home of a wide range of tantalizing Tempranillo.

This week's Lucha Vino match up features a Washington Tempranillo taking on Rioja.

2013 Saviah Cellars Tempranillo v. 2001 Diez Caballero Vendimia Seleccionada

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Washington Albarino v. Rias Baixas

The Vuelta a Espana is the final grand tour of the season for the pro cyclists.  This race never gets the credit it deserves since it happens so late in the season.  By now, the Tour de France has already happened and most cycling fans are preparing for Cyclo-Cross or the World Championships.  That means that some high class racing usually goes unnoticed.

Well.  Surprise, surprise!  This years Vuelta has been more exciting than the Tour de France.  The race started in the North Western Spain and featured plenty of exciting racing.  The action in the first week of racing featured a team time trial, sprints, mountain top finishes and several changes in the overall race leadership.  

This week's Lucha Vino challange features an Albarino from Washington taking on a classic Albarino from Rias Baixas.

2015 Crayelle Albarino v. 2015 Granbazan Albarino

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Washington GSM v. Gigondas

If I was racing in the Tour de France I would probably be riding in the broom wagon! My updates are trailing the tour by almost two weeks now.  The show must go on...

In the second week of le Tour the racers followed a route through Southern France.  Along the way they passed straight through the Rhone Valley without stopping to enjoy the wine.  Such a pity!

To compensate for the Tour's lack of culinary interest, I decided to stop off for a battle royale in Gigondas.  Meanwhile, the tour raced up Mt. Ventoux on Bastille day where lots of crazy ensued.

2014 Rotie Cellars Southern Blend v. Arnout & Fils Gigondas 2012 Vieux Clocher

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Washington Cabernet Franc v. Loire Valley

The Tour de France is in full swing!  The race started in the far Northwest of France and headed straight South in the first week.  The racers faced challenges from wind, mountains and themselves while battling for position in the sprint stages.

So far, this year's Grande Boucle has seen a little bit of everything and it is not even half way over!  The only predictable thing is that Chris Froome is, once again, wearing the race leader's yellow jersey.

In the first week of racing the peloton passed through the Loire Valley with stage four starting in Saumur.  This was the longest stage of the race so hopefully the team directors allowed their racers to enjoy a glass of Cabernet Franc with their dinner the night before!

This week's Lucha Vino matchup features a Washington Cabernet Franc taking on a French challenger from Chinon.

Kaella 2012 Cabernet Franc v. Saget la Perriere Marie de Beauregard 2014 Chinon

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Washington Cabernet Sauvignon v. Alexander Valley

The Tour of California originally took place early in the season to avoid conflicts with bigger races in order to draw top cycling talent to the States.  As the race grew in popularity the promoters took the plunge and went head-to-head with the Giro d' Italia.  Much like a lucha libre matchup, these two heavy weight bike races contend for top talent every year in the month of May.

This past week saw the pros giving it their all in the state of California, battling for victory from San Diego to Santa Rosa.  The penultimate stage of the race took place on Saturday with Santa Rosa hosting the race start and finish.  The riders encountered 8,600 feet of climbing over 6 classified climbs as they road west to the California coast and then back inland to complete several finishing circuits through the streets of Santa Rosa.

Sometimes crazy things happen in bicycle races (just like they do in a Lucha Libre wrestling match).  This past Saturday provided a great example of the unexpected.  Even with the substantial number of climbs, a sprinter hung on to take the stage victory!  Kudos to the Norwegian, Alexander Kristov, for hanging on through the hills to hold his position and then set himself up for the sprint glory.

This week's Lucha Vino matchup honor's Alexander's tenacity with a matchup of Washington Cabernet vs. the Alexander Valley.

Eight Bells 2011 David's Block Cabernet Sauvignon v. Simi 2012 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Washington Sangiovese vs. Chianti

The Giro d' Italia is going full gas coming into the conclusion of one full week of racing.  The 8th stage finished in Tuscany on Saturday.  Gianluca Brambilla took a solo stage victory after going on a long range attack.  Not only did he win the stage, he also moved into the Maglia Rosa taking the overall lead in his home country's grand tour.

This week's matchup honors the brash style and panache' of riders willing to put it all on the line for a chance at victory.  Washington Sangiovese takis on a long range challenger from Chianti.

Mellisoni Vineyards 2013 Sangiovese v. Travignoli 2006 Chianti Rufina Riserva

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Washington Barbera vs. Piemonte

The past two weeks have featured several major races in Northern Italy.  Milan San Remo is one of the biggest single day classics on the pro racer's calendar.  What makes the race unique is the distance.  Milan San Remo is the longest race of the season at 298 km.  The Pogio and Cipressa are well known climbs that come near the finish of the race.  Even though these hills are given special reverence, they rarely make a substantial difference in the outcome of the race.

This year was somewhat different.  There was a crash near the base of the Cipressa that caught out the eventual winner, Arnaud Demare, the first Frenchman to win La Classicissima in 21 years.  The issue at hand is the question: Did he, or Didn't he?  There is a controversy surrounding how Demare was able to reconnect with the lead group after being caught behind the crash on the Cipressa.  His race data suggests that Demare recorded the fastest time up the Cipressa.  Sprinters aren't known for their hill climbing capabilities.  They are known for occasionally getting a favorable tow up a hill by their team car.  We may never know the truth.  Unfortunately, this could leave a dark shadow over Demare's victory. 

This week's challenge salutes the first of the Spring Classic Monuments with a matchup that features Washington Barbera taking on Piemonte.

2013 Hard Row to Hoe Barbera vs. 2013 Etorre Germano Barbera d'Alba

Thursday, March 10, 2016

WA Mourvedre vs. Bandol

The South of France has some of the more appealing weather this time of year.  That is reflected in the number of races happening in the Provence region in February.  In the past few weeks the Tour de Mediterranean and Tour la Provence both took place.

For the most part these races are an opportunity for the seasoned pros to stretch their legs and test their fitness.  The neo-pros seize these early season races as their chance to prove they are worthy of bigger contracts and possible team captain opportunities in the future.

The veterans ruled the day at both races with Thomas Voeckler taking the overall at the Tour la Provence, while Andriy Grivko claiming victory at the Mediterranean.

This week's challenge pits a Washington Mourvedre against Bandol.

2010 McCrea Cellars Mourvedre v. 2012 Domaine Sorin Mourvedre

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Washington Syrah v. Australia

The pro cycling tour kicks off with a bang Down Under in January.  The Australian National Championships, Tour Down Under and Jayco Herald Sun Tour all take place in January.  The Tour Down Under features my favorite hill climb in all of cycling - "Corkscrew Hill"  This may not be the most difficult, or decisive, climb that the pros face during the year, but it definitely has the best name!

The Australian racers are always in top form for these races since they have just finished competing for their National Championships.  This year was no exception with plenty of battling for the top spot on the Tour Down Under podium.  Ultimately, Simon Garrens took the overall victory after winning back to back stages (stage 3 and stage 4), including Corkscrew Hill, to establish his superiority.

This month's matchup features a Washington Syrah from Red Mountain taking on a Syrah/Petite Sirah blend from the McLaren Vale.

2012 Ward Johnson Syrah v. 2012 Flegenheimer Brothers Reserve Red