Before we look ahead to Wednesday’s race, let’s recap what happened on Monday, when fan favorite Peter Sagan won his first stage:
Bora-Hansgrohe, the team launching Sagan to the podium, worked hard all day to put him in position to win the race. One by one they sat at the head of the peloton, pushing the pace on what should have been an “easy” day. The goal was to drop as many sprinters as possible, leaving only a few (tired) competitors to face Sagan in the final kilometer.
Giacomo Nizzolo of Team Qhubeka Assos, current Italian and European champion, was left desperately clinging to the wheel of teammate Victor Campenaerts. Despite the efforts of Campenaerts, Nizzolo never made it back to the main group, killing his ambitions for a stage win. Even Sagan looked winded at times, suffering the brutal pace stamped out by his compatriots. In the end, he recovered well enough to outpace Gaviria and Cimolai at the finish.
Egan Bernal kept the overall leader’s jersey as well as the maglia bianca for the best young rider. Geoffrey Bouchard of Team AG2R-Citroen claimed the climbers’ maglia azzura. The GC race remains competitive, with Remco Evenepoel of Deceuninck just 14 seconds behind Bernal; Astana’s Aleksandr Vlasov sits at 22 seconds back. All top ten riders are within a minute.
Stage 11: Perugia to Montalcino
The course begins on flat roads, graduates to rolling hillsides, and ends on four patches of gravel known as sterrati. Some are steeper than others, but all will bring the risk of punctures and other mishaps. Take a look at this video from Giro 2010 to see what happens on these roads when it rains:
Let’s hope the cycling gods grant good weather on Wednesday.
Wine Time – Brunello di Montalcino DOCG and Rosso di Montalcino DOC
We’re in the heart of Tuscany, where the climate is warm, Mediterranean: that means long sunny days with cooling breezes from the west. Lying south of Chianti and at lower altitude, vineyards here get lots of sun exposure, allowing the Sangiovese grapes to ripen easily.
Why is that important?
Sangiovese is naturally high in tannin, the structural component contributed by a grape’s seeds and skins. When you drink wine high in tannin you’ll notice an astringency on the palate similar to what happens when you sip very strong black tea. As with sugar, which accumulates in the grape as it matures, tannins also need heat and warmth to ripen. Otherwise they will taste green and unpleasant – not what you want to drink!
Brunello wines are full-bodied, high in acid and tannin, with aromas and flavors of sour cherry, herbs and, when aged, leather and dried fruit. They tend to be high in alcohol and can age for years, becoming more complex in the bottle. DOCG regulations require that Brunello be 100% Sangiovese and that the wines be aged for at least five years, two of which must be in oak. Riserva wines must age for a total of six years, three in oak. They are premium priced and usually of high quality.
For those of you whose budgets make Brunello a special-occasion splurge (me!) there’s another wine from the region that will suit you nicely. Rosso di Montalcino DOC comes from the same geographic region as Brunello. While fruit for Brunello will be grown on the most favorable plots and from the oldest vines, grapes destined for Rosso come from younger vines and/or may be grown on lower slopes.
As with Brunello, the wines must be 100% Sangiovese. But they are aged only one year, with no requirement that they spend time in oak. Lower costs for the producer mean lower prices for the consumer. You’ll get a lot of bang for the buck with Rosso di Montalcino, and a lot of sipping pleasure, too. In fact, in difficult vintages, Brunello producers may declassify their wines to the Rosso di Montalcino DOC appellation.
So, whether you’re celebrating an important anniversary or just the fact that it’s Wednesday, this part of Tuscany offers just what you need. Whatever your pleasure today, let’s raise a glass of Sangiovese from southern Tuscany and toast the peloton as they pedal past.