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
Tale of the Tape
2014 Casa Smith Barbera
100% Barbera from the Northridge Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope
100% whole cluster fermentation followed by 12 months of barrel aging in neutral barrels.
Provided as a sample by the winery. Available at retail for $20.00.
2013 G.D. Vajra Barbera d'Alba
100% Barbera from six different vineyards located in the Barbera d'Alba DOC
Aged for 14-16 months in Slovakian Oak Casks.
Purchased at Esquin for $24.99.
Round 1. First opening.
The Casa Smith Barbera barges into the ring with a menacing attitude. The nose is featuring dark cherries, dusty minerality, salted oats and light floral notes. The palate is also showing notes of dark cherry along with dry coffee bean and white pepper followed by a light tannin inspired finish.
The luchador from G.D. Vajra appears to be a bit overwhelmed. The nose is showing dark cherries, dank minerality and a touch of anise. The palate is stark with notes of dry pie cherry and leather underscored by a healthy dose of tannins.
Casa Smith easily takes round 1 over an Italian challenger that is showing signs of being under trained.
Round 2. One hour after opening.
Casa Smith is showing substantial stamina. The nose continues to show dark cherries, oats and dried flowers. The palate is dark and brooding with notes of tart cherries and dried flowers wrapped up in a slightly tart finish.
G.D. Vajra is trying to mount a ferocious come back after that unexpected setback in round one. The nose is getting funky with dark earthy fruit and unusual rubber under tones. The palate is leaning to the dark side with blue/black fruit character and funky minerality built on a dry finish.
The G.D. Vajra was full of sound and fury in round 2. Alas, that emotion did not translate into points. Casa Smith took the points in round 2, building a commanding 2-0 lead for the match.
Round 3. One day after opening.
This is it. G.D. Vajra needs to go for the knock out in order to take the victory in this contest. The score looks lopsided, but the competition has been close. Let's see what happens in round three!
Casa Smith lowers the boom leaping from the top rope with a wicked body slam that crushes the G.D. Vajra challenger. The nose is continuing to develop rich body with notes of dark cherry, coffee and dry minerality. The palate follows suit with notes of dark cherry, blue fruit, anise and dry herbal tinged white pepper followed by a finish that features light tones of coffee bean.
The G.D. Vajra luchador peals itself off the floor and responds with gusto! The nose is showing dry cherries and flower petals. The palate is also showing dried cherries, abundant tart tannins with good acidity and a dry finish.
The Italian Luchador showed good character, but was no match for the Casa Smith Barbera. Casa Smith takes all three rounds and the match!
Wrap up and overall observations.
The Casa Smith Barbera is ready to go now. This Washington take on Barbera delivers a well rounded wine with plenty of character.
The G.D. Vajra Barbera d'Alba continued to evolve for several days after the match concluded. This wine has many more years ahead of it. I would recommend letting this one age a while longer in your cellar before opening it. Give this one some good air time in the decanter if you are impatient and open it now!