#Giro2020 Stage 10: Following the Abruzzo Coast, Enjoying a Passerina from Chieti

Sunday was Portugal’s day, with Ruben Guerreiro winning his first grand tour race in the cold and rainy conditions atop Roccaraso in Abruzzo. His compatriot (and, as it turns out, his home town neighbor) João Almeida retained the overall leader’s maglia rosa. The difficult course was geared to the climbing specialists, meaning that by day’s end, Guerreiro was draped in the maglia azzurra as well.

Check out the highlights:

Tuesday is another romp through the province of Abruzzo, although the peloton will traverse the rather flatter roads near the coast. There are a few bumps along the way, but nothing compared to Sunday’s race. I know I sound like a broken record but this might be a day for Peter Sagan to get his first stage win of 2020.

Stage 10 Profile map (www.giroditalia.it)

While he’s racing better than he did in the Tour de France, victory has eluded him. The maglia ciclomino is still within reach but it won’t be for long if he doesn’t get some wins under his belt. Tuesday’s path along the coast might suit him, especially if the winds sweep in off the Adriatic.

Let’s see what happens . . .

A Quick Trip and Sip of Abruzzo

Map courtesy of Wine Folly

Would you be able to point to Abruzzo, Italy on a map? Unless you’ve spent a lot of time wandering around Italy’s countryside – or taken a class on Italian wines – probably not. My interest in Abruzzo and the Adriatic Coast piqued when I began to learn about the 20 wine regions of Italy; it deepened when I met my husband, whose family hails from the city of Pescara. But not even he knew much about it!

It’s a shame, really, because this part of Italy has much to recommend it:

  • Abruzzo has more national parks and forests than any other Italian region.
  • It boasts stunning, tranquil beaches along the Adriatic Sea.
  • The Apennine Mountains run through the middle of the region, providing a range of climates, soils, and aspects suitable for growing a host of grape varieties.
  • Wines from the region were celebrated as early as the first century BC, when native son Ovid waxed poetic about the local grapes.
  • Hannibal is rumored to have treated his soldiers to wine from Abruzzo after their difficult crossing of the Alps.

Codice Citra

Founded in 1973, Codice Citra has brought together winegrowers from nine local co-operatives, all from the Chieti province of Abruzzo. Their mission is to highlight the native grape varieties of the region, making wine that reflects rural traditions while taking advantage of innovations in viticultural research. Riccardo Cotarella was recently appointed as executive enologist, overseeing a team of 19 technicians and winemakers in the cellar.

Passerina is a lovely white grape grown in Abruzzo

2017 Codice Citra Ferzo Passerina IGP Terre di Chieti (13.3% abv; $26 SRP)

Passerina is a white variety that is disease-resistant, and which thrives in the rolling hills stretching westward, from the Adriatic Sea toward the Apennine Mountains. Grapes enjoy the cooling effects of the brezza di terra, a breeze that flows between coast and crestline.

Held in high esteem by Abruzzese farmers, the Passerina grape was once called Pagadebito (paying the debt) because growers would sometimes pledge a portion of their harvests as collateral against their debts.

This wine is 100% Passerina, grown on 80 acres of calcareous clay soils at about 250 meters above sea level. Fermentation occurred in stainless steel tanks, and the wine rested in tank for three months before bottling.

Color: Pale lemon, a bit paler still at the rim.

Nose: Lively aromas of ripe white peach, fresh orange zest, and sweet grass.

Palate: Similar to the nose, but with stronger citrus flavors, and a little bitter lemon pith on the finish. It’s quite fun to taste it again, as it evolves over an hour or so: distinct mineral notes emerge, along with a hint of thyme.

Ferzo Passerina and Homemade Lentil Soup. Sounds good, right?

Verdict: This is such a lovely wine! I paired it with a homemade lentil soup, and it worked admirably well, but I couldn’t help thinking how much I preferred it all by itself. While I’d hardly describe the wine as delicate, there was an ethereal lightness to it. For some reason I kept thinking of Passerina/Ballerina and maybe that’s how to sum up this wine: agile and strong but beautifully light on its feet.

Enjoy the stunning coastline of Abruzzo as the peloton races along the Adriatic Sea!

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