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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Washington Sangiovese vs. Chianti Classico

Any cyclist that has ever raced a criterium or cyclocross race is familiar with one of the final warnings given by the race official "Don't ride backward on the course!"  I'm not sure I have ever heard an official at a road race give the same warning.

So, what does that have to do with this week's Lucha Vino challenge?  I'm riding backward on the 2017 Giro d' Italia course!  My journey started in Piedmont and now I am tracing the route backward to Tuscany.

Stage 11 starts in Firenze (Florence) and travels East to Bagno di Romagna and includes five climbs along the way.  These types of stages are often the places that separate the men from the boys, the contenders from the pretenders, the climbers from the sprinters...  You get the picture.

This week's Lucha Vino match up features a Washington Sangiovese taking on a Chianti Classico from Tuscany.  Which one of these Luchadors will prove to be mightier than the other?

2014 Casa Smith Sangiovese v. 2013 Felsina Chianti Classico

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Washington Barbera v. Piedmont

Italy is one of the most cycling crazy nations in the world.  The pro race season wraps up with several one day races in Northern Italy in the Piedmont wine region.  If that wasn't reason enough to feature an Italian wine smack down, then the announcement of the 100th edition of the Giro d' Italia certainly is!

The Giro del Piemonte took place at the end of September with Italian Champion Giacomo Nizzolo taking a sprint victory on his home soil.

A few weeks later the route for the 100th edition of the Giro d'Italia was unveiled.  The 2017 route will start in Southern Italy, on the island of Sardinia.  The race will work its way North concluding in Milan after three breathtaking weeks of racing.

The next few Lucha Vino matchups will feature Casa Smith Italian inspired wines taking on a bevy of Italian challengers.

First up, this week's matchup features a Washington Barbera from Casa Smith taking on an Italian challenger from the Barbera d'Alba DOC.

2014 Casa Smith Barbera v. 2013 G.D. Vajra Barbera d'Alba