While the wild and unpredictable strade bianche of stage 11 into Montalcino was technically this year’s official Giro d’Italia “wine stage” hosted in cooperation with the Consorzio del vino Brunello di Montalcino, there are several stages of this year’s beautiful grand tour of Italy that meander around and through some of the country’s other wonderful wine country. As the Giro enters into its final week, both the GC and points competition seem fairly well in hand. It’s time to transition to using these final stages to root for the underdogs of the breakaway to take the stage win and figure out which picturesque part of Italy you’re going to visit on your next vacation.
By Clive Pursehoue | Photos Courtesy, Masciarelli
There are 20 different Italian regions, and not coincidentally 20 different Italian wine growing regions. While some are among the most well known in the world, namely Piedmont, Tuscany and Veneto—the last one home to Prosecco—there are well made and authentic wines coming from every corner of the country. If you’ve ever had the occasion to order the house wine in a tiny Italian trattoria it was likely one of the greatest experiences of your life. Based on that 20-20 ratio I just cited we could really pick any stages, but here are three stages of this year’s race that wound through some lesser known, and world famous parts of Italian wine country.
The hilly stage and the breakaway led to the unforgettable victory by a man named Taco, who dropped the f-bomb in his post race interview. His unexpected victory is the kind that has become the signature of this edition, 11 first time winners in the first 15 stages, along with the dominance of Egan Bernal. The stage danced through the hills of Piedmont’s wine country known for some of the best red wines in all the world. But in honor of the unexpected Taco van der Hoorn we’re popping corks on a Piedmontese white wine from Gavi dei Gavi.
2019 La Scolca Gavi dei Gavi (Black Label)
From this hilly commune just a stone’s throw from the childhood home of Fausto Coppi, the white wines of Gavi dei Gavi are made from the Cortese grape, and the La Scolca Black Label series is among the finest examples from the region. Aromas are of white flower and intense stone fruits, with a fresh and bright palate with a touch of nuttiness and a flinty minerality. $40
Stage 9 went through the Abruzzo, and it was a doozy, with lots of up and some eye popping scenery in the tunnels through the cliffs and the gravel finale up Rocca di Cambio. Bernal bossed the peloton, dropping everyone on that gravel climb and the Colombian phenom hasn’t really looked back since. This stage will live on as an instant classic finish, as will the statement the quiet Bernal made with his riding. It also should have made everyone stand up and take notice of one of the most beautiful and underrated parts of Italy when you’re thinking of that Italian getaway you want to plan. Abruzzo is also home to one of Italy’s most underrated red wines, made from the Montepulciano grape. The wines tend to offer fantastic value and definitely hit all those rustic Italian countryside paired with cured meats.
2018 Masciarelli Marina Cvetic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva
This is one hell of a wine, and Masciarelli has become the standard bearer for Abruzzo as the region makes its case to be considered among Italy’s world class producers. This earthy red wine offers aromas of herbs, smoke and blackberry compote, and a rich palate, with intense flavors of red and black berries, and hints of Italian espresso. The finish lingers long. It will stand up to grilled meats, a hearty stew or fresh, handmade pasta. Abruzzo is known for maccheroni alla chitarra, a spaghetti made with stewed tomatoes, and meats often include goose, pork or lamb. $32
This is the Giro, so it’s time for a pink wine. Never confused as a lucky number, stage 13 was a fairly flat affair a day ahead of the Monte Zoncolan climb and it was a day to celebrate a fan favorite. Giacomo Nizzolo had stood on 16 Giro podiums prior to the finish in Verona, and he was finally able to raise his hands at the line and spray the crowd with Prosecco. In Verona, where we lay our scene, there will be plenty to toast. The Shakespearean city also lays claim to being the capital for the wines of Veneto. Here, classic Amarone producers make amazingly complex and expensive red wines from drying grapes a la ripasso, and a few producers also help the fight for pink continue. The Italian rosato craze is in full force and one of the local producers, Pasqua, makes a wonderful example of Italian rosato.
2020 11 Minutes Rosé from Pasqua is beautifully hued and packaged in a tidy little bottle. Pasqua is another Verona, Amarone producer who makes a super elegant pink wine among a wide catalogue of wines. A blend of native grapes with a few others thrown in makes an impression with its pretty pink color, derived from exactly 11 minutes of skin contact between the crushed grapes and their juice. Aromas of white flowers and citrus and a palate of cut strawberries and rhubarb. $20