#Giro2020 Stage 4: One Last Day in Sicily, and the Wines of Bonavita Faro DOC

I don’t know if Mount Etna had anything to do with it, but the peloton was all shook up after Stage 3 on Monday. What started out as a rolling route from Sicily’s interior toward the smoking giant on the northeast coast, quickly became a windy, rainy slog up impossibly steep slopes.

Is this the Giro d’Italia or the Vuelta a España?

The grand tour of Spain is well known for its endless days of climbing; so much so that many sprinters skip the race altogether. Why spend three weeks hauling yourself over the mountains just for a couple of chances at glory?

Over the years the Tour de France seems to have adapted that model. I’m all for climbing days but please don’t forget to throw in a few all-out sprint stages. Everyone loves to watch the big guys rumble to the finish line in a blaze of elbows, pedals, and head-butts.

So, yeah, Monday was a rough day for the peloton – even the climbers. Geraint Thomas fell early in the day and never recovered, losing almost eight minutes in the overall classification. I wouldn’t be surprised if he abandoned the race. Simon Yates fared almost as poorly, losing almost four minutes.

Very surprising on both counts, but this is 2020 after all. Nothing is as usual.

A young Ecuadoran rider named Jonathan Caicedo (Team EF Education First) claimed victory with an impressive ride (stomp?) to the heights of Mout Etna. He joined the break-away early and was the last man standing, keeping the peloton – and a few challengers – at bay.

By day’s end he was tied with Joao Almeida of Deceuninck for the maglia rosa. Caicedo was awarded the jersey because of the stage win. Almeida is in second place (with the exact same time as Caicedo); Pello Bilbao of Team Bahrain-McLaren is third (+37 seconds); Wilco Kelderman of Sunweb is fourth (+42); and Vincenzo Nibali (aka the Shark of Messina) is fifth (+55). All are in good position to contest the maglia rosa in coming stages.

Take a look at the highlights (note the ashy, black volcanic soil close to Etna):

What’s Up on Stage 4?

I’m not sure what to make of this route: there’s a huge climb in the middle, with sprint points awarded just before and after it. Tuesday’s race will not be easy, especially after the hardships of Stage 3. And, with the shake-up in the standings, no one can afford to dog it. Competition for every jersey is hot, and the prizes will go to those who are fit, hydrated, and confident. My money is on Vincenzo Nibali, who calls this part of Sicily home. He’ll be extra-motivated to move up the GC standings, especially with Thomas and Yates having such bad days on Monday.

Stage 4 Profile Map (www.giroditalia.it)

Drink Local with Bonavita Faro Wines

What a wonderful place to make wine!

Vines, mountains, the sea: what more do you need? (winery photo)

Amid the Peloritani Mountains, which are surrounded by the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas to the northwest and east, and the Strait of Messina due north, Bonavita perches at 300 meters above sea level. Once the home of ancient Greek people known as Pharii (hence the name Faro), the vistas stretch far and wide.

The Scarfone family farms seven hectares of land in the Faro DOC, just outside Messina. A small portion – 2.5 hectares – is devoted to growing grapes via organic methods. The rest of the property fosters olive groves and oak and chestnut trees.

Old indigenous vines overlooking the sea (winery photo)

Bonavita specializes in indigenous grapes, notably Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, and Nocera, making both red and rosé wines. The oldest vines are 80+ years old and are trained in the old-fashioned alberello style; younger vines average 10 years old and are trained to espalier. No chemicals are used in the vineyards, and the vines are tended by hand.

Old vines in the Bonavita plots (winery photo)

Grape must is fermented using native yeast. In red wine production, maceration on the skins lasts 20 days in stainless steel vats. The wine then ages for 24 months in conical wooden barrels and a further 10 months in bottle before release. Rosé wines get less skin contact – just 12 hours – and then spend six months in stainless steel vats.

Two bottles of Bonavita goodness (winery photo)

Bonavita Faro Rosso is a blend of the two Nerellos and Nocera; it is labeled as Faro DOC. Bonavita Faro Rosé comprises Nerello Mascalese and Nocera; it is labeled as Sicilia DOC. Learn more in the short video below:

While we can only imagine ourselves in Sicily, why not open a bottle of wine crafted in the hills above the surrounding seas, and pretend to smell the salt breeze? Pour a glass of Bonavita wine, put out a plate of Sicilian olives, and relax. One day we’ll get there for real; in the meantime, this will do.

Enjoy the race!

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