Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Washington Cabernet Sauvignon vs. Bordeaux

The Tour de France organizers recently unveiled the 2018 route.  The 105th edition of le Tour includes some of the most diverse racing in the past decade.  The race begins in the Normandy region of North East France rather than in a different country like many of the past editions.  After spending a week in Northern France the race heads to the mountains in the Alps and Pyrenees before finishing up in Paris.  The finish on the Champs Elysees is one tradition that continues to endure.

In honor of the Tour's organizers willingness to shake things up, this week's challenge features on upstart from Walla Walla taking on the old guard from the Left Bank of Bordeaux.

2012 Kontos Cellars Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon vs. 2012 L'Abeille de Fieuzal Pessac-Leognan

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Washington Tempranillo vs. Rioja

This year's Vuelta a Espana was action packed throughout all three weeks of racing.  Things really heated up during the last week of the race, which featured some intense racing through the Northern most mountains of Spain.  Chris Froome held off all the challengers to win his second Grand Tour of the year and Alberto Contador went on one final mountain rampage to win, perhaps, his final Grand Tour stage.

In recognition of the racing action in Northern Spain, this week's Lucha Vino matchup features a Washington Tempranillo taking on a Spanish Tempranillo from Rioja.  Rioja is one of the Northernmost wine regions of Spain.  It primarily features Tempranillo and consistently turns out excellent wines year after year.

2014 Kerloo Cellars Tempranillo vs. 2011 Muga Rioja Seleccion Especial

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Washington Chardonnay vs. Macon-Villages

The 2017 edition of the Tour de France wrapped up last week with Chris Froome taking his fourth TdF victory.  The overall victory wasn't sealed until the time trial on the penultimate day of the tour.  However, Froome's victory wasn't much of a surprise (again).

There were other surprises in the race.  Peter Sagan, the world champion, was disqualified after Stage 4 for reckless sprinting.  Ritchie Porte, a top contender, crashed out of the race when he failed to negotiate a turn while descending the Mont de Chat on stage 9.  Marcel Kittel was leading the Green Jersey competition when he had to abandon the race due to a crash on stage 17.

When a race covers 21 stages and thousands of kilometers, there are plenty of opportunities for unusual things to happen.  Just like the tour, this week's challenge brings out some surprises from the first week of the tour when the racers swept through the Burgundy region.

Instead of Burgundy vs. Pinot Noir, I bring on my own style of surprise with a Chardonnay clash of the titans.

2012 Rulo Chardonnay v. 2014 Joseph Drouhin Macon-Villages

Tale of the Tape

Friday, June 30, 2017

Washington BDX Style Blend vs. Right Bank Bordeaux

The Tour de France starts on Saturday.  This year's route covers 3,540 km over 21 stages with plenty of terrain that offers the opportunity for a variety of riders to achieve victory.  In the end, there is only one true winner - the rider that arrives in Paris wearing the Maillot Jaune, aka The Yellow Jersey.  This is the rider that completes all 21 stages in the fastest cumulative time.

There are other jerseys are on the line too, including:
  • The Green Jersey for the best all around rider.  This jersey has come to be known as the Sprinter's Jersey in recent history.
  • The Polka Dot Jersey for the best mountain climber.  This rider is also known as the King of the Mountains.
  • The White Jersey for the best young rider.  This is the highest placed racer under the age of 23.
All these opportunities add up to multiple races within the bigger race.  There are more than a handful of racers eyeing victory in this year's tour.  All the top riders finished off their preparation with the Criterium du Dauphine or the Tour de Suise.

Just like the pro racers, I've topped off my Tour preparation with a recent Bordeaux Right Bank Ruckus featuring St. Emilion vs. Washington.

2014 Auclair Right Blend vs. 2008 Chateau Barde-Haut Saint-Emilion Grand Cru

Monday, May 22, 2017

Washington Red vs. California Meritage

The Tour of California overlaps with the Giro d' Italia.  It typically attracts racers that are preparing for the Tour de France or trying to earn a spot on their team's Tour squad.

This year the race started in Sacramento and headed South, finishing in Pasadena.  As the racers toed the line for the first two stages they may have had the opportunity to enjoy some wines from Sonoma.

This week's challenge features a Washington Bordeaux Style blend taking on a California Dry Creek Meritage challenger.

2014 Mullan Road Cellars Red Wine vs. 2012 Dry Creek Vineyard The Mariner

Andrew Talansky won the "Queen Stage" of the race on top of Mt. Baldy.  Talansky's nickname is The Pit Bull because he never gives up.  Just like Andrew Talansky, both these red wines are focused and assertive. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Washington Grenache v. Cannonau di Sardegna

The 100th Edition of the Giro d' Italia kicked off Friday May 5th on the island of Sardegna (or as we say in the states, Saridinia).  The first three stages featured some exciting racing with some unexpected results in the opening stage and stage 3.

The racers are already enjoying their first rest day on Monday as the race moves to Sicily for an early test of the climbers legs on Mt Etna.  Mt. Etna may be more famous for volcanic eruptions than bike racing.  The Giro organizers are always looking to inject excitement into the race.  Maybe they are hoping for an eruption while the racers scale this active volcano!

This week's Lucha Vino matchup features a Washington Grenache taking on a Cannonau challenger from Sardegna.

2013 Novelty Hill Grenache vs. 2012 Gabbas LiLLove' Cannonau di Sardegna

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Washington Gruner Veltliner vs. Austria

The Tour of the Alps is the new name for the Giro Trentino.  The race starts in Austria and heads due South with the majority of the stages taking place in Italy.  The overall winner of this year's edition was Geraint Thomas, a strong rider with a big motor that usually rides in support of Chris Froome at Team Sky.

The first stage of the race started in Innsbruck and finished in Hungerburg.  Michele Scarponi took the opening stage showing that he was working into good form to be Astana's team captain for the Giro d'Italia.  Sadly, Scarponi was hit, and killed, by a car when heading out for a training ride this past Friday (April 21).

Michele Scarponi was a friend to nearly every cyclist in the pro peloton.  Several riders dedicated their victories to him over the weekend.  Following their lead, this Lucha Vino matchup honors Michele Scarponi with a matchup of Gruner Veltliners, one of Austria's primary wines grapes.

2015 Syncline Gruner Veltliner vs. 2014 Winzer Krems Kellermeister Privat Gruner Veltliner

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Washington Syrah vs. Australian Shiraz

January is the height of Winter in most Northern hemisphere countries.  The pro cyclocross racers are peaking for their National and then World Championships while the road cyclists are busy looking for warm dry climates to train in.

Not in Australia!  January in Australia is the height of Summer and brings their National road championships.  January also features several top level pro road races.  These races are typically dominated by the Australian racers due to the timing of their National championships.  Also, most stage racers are just starting their training program with an eye on big races to come in May, June and July.

Caleb Ewan dominated the early season races in Australia.  His sprint victories in The Tour Down Under, Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic and The Australian Elite Men's Criterium Championship showed everybody that he may be the next top level pro sprinter to come from Down Under.  We'll see how things play out in the Tour de France in July.  That will be the next big opportunity for Ewan to show he may be ready to take the sprinter's baton from Robbie McEwan.

This week's matchup features a Washington Syrah taking on an Australian Shiraz in honor of the early season Australian racing.

2013 Skylite Cellars Walla Walla Syrah vs. 2014 Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Washington Intrastate Primitivo Throw Down

The third, and final, Giro d'Italia installment features Primitivo, a grape grown predominantly in Puglia.  The Puglia region (also known as Apulia) is located in "The Heel" of Italy's boot. The 100th edition of the Giro d'Italia begins in Sardinia, then travels to Sicily and finally crosses to the mainland on day 6.  On day 7 the racers will visit Primitivo's homeland

An interesting fact about Primitivo is that it is related to Zinfandel.  Some DNA tests show that the grapes are the same, some tests say they are different.  One thing is certain - you will mostly find Zinfandel in California and Primitivo in Italy.

For this challenge I had a hard time locating a challenger from Italy.  What to do?  What about an intrastate match?  Washington v. Washington with a twist - Washington Winemaker v. Oregon Winemaker, both using Primitivo grown in Washington.  Game on!

2014 Casa Smith Porcospino Primitivo v. 2011 Angel Vine Columbia Valley Primitivo.