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Fast Cars & Great Wine

by winenews on Sep.20, 2009, under Articles, Travel

Do fast cars and Italian wine go well together?  You bet they do when the cars are the Formula1 racing machines at top speed on the Monza track, and the wines are Piemonte Barolos.  If you are a car and a wine fanatic you simply must see the Monza race and spend at least a week touring the Piemonte region of Italy.

The Race

The location of the Circuit in Monza Park, is unique in the world. This natural setting is both attractive and delightful.
Its location favors the organization of events and meeting in open areas for exibitions, entratainment and music and is supported by internal structures, such as a restaurant with 350 places, a 160-person self-service and 2 bars, one bank counter and one information office which are open during the main events. Moreover there are sport and technical shops and a specialized bookstore with international and rare editions. The park offers also other facilities aas swimming pool, camping, 18-hole golf course, manège and bycycle rental.

Monza Circuit was built in 1922, in only 110 days, both for competitions and for motor (auto & motor cycle) testing (Indianapolis was built in 1909).  Since then, the Italian Grand Prix has always taken place on the Monza track (except during the war years and a few other occasions).

Driving in Italy and getting to the track can be a daunting task.  And parking is impossible.  Since we prefer to stay in more picturesque locations, we opted for Bellagio on Lake Como.  It’s about an hour to the track by car, but we chose the train…a wise choice.  The train from Lecco (on Lake Como also) stops right at the so called Lesmo entrance to the park.  Although this is the far end of Monza from the start-finish area, it’s great to walk the park and see the entire track.  Plus the views at night on the Lake are awesome and restful.  

Brawn GP emerged from the Italian Grand Prix as hot favourites for both Driver and Constructor titles after securing their fourth one-two of the season. It put them 40.5 points clear of Red Bull, who managed only an eighth place, and left Jenson Button with a 14-point lead in the driver standings. Rubens Barrichello’s Monza win – with no hint of team orders – means the Brawn duo now look set to slug it out for the 2009 crown, with only four races remaining.

The Wines

The Piedmont region is located in the foothills of the Alps forming its border with France and Switzerland. To the northwest is the Valle d’Aosta, to the east is the province of Lombardy with the Liguria region forming its southern border along the Apennines. In addition to the vast mountainous terrain, the Po Valley consumes a large area of available land-leaving only 30% of the region suitable for vineyard plantings. The valley and the mountains do contribute to the areas noted fog cover which aides in the ripening of the Nebbiolo grape (which gets it name from the Piedmontese word nebbia meaning “fog”).

The winemaking regions of the Piedmont and Bordeaux are very close in latitude and share many climate characteristics, especially in regards to summertime temperatures and rainfall. The winemaking zone of Piedmont is affected by its subalpine location. Vineyards are typically planted on hillsides altitudes between 490-1150 ft (150-400 metre). The warmer south facing slopes are mainly used for Nebbiolo or Barbera while the cooler sites are planted with Dolcetto or Moscato.

In 1980, the wines of the Barolo region became one of the first Italian wines to receive DOCG status. Produced to the southwest of the town of Alba in the hills of the Langhe, Barolo is a big, tannic expression of the Nebbiolo grape. The soil of this area is a composition of clay and marl which helps to lessen the naturally high acidity of Nebbiolo. The Tanaro river flows through the heart of Barolo country and serves as a tempering influence on the region’s summertime heat till harvest time in late October/mid November. A small wine region, extending over 7 miles in length and 5 miles at its widest point, Barolo produces about 500,000 cases of wine annually. Nearly 87% of the zone productions comes from vineyards in five communities.

Wines from the Central Valley of La Morra and Barolo tend to be very perfumed and velvety with less tannins than other Barolos.

Barbera is the most widely-planted grape in the region, but Nebbiolo and Dolcetto account for a significant portion of the area’s red wine production as well. With white wines, Moscato is the most prominent with its sparkling and frizzante style wines. Other notable white wines include styles made from the Cortese grape in Gavi as well as blends.

The Piedmont produces more DOC/G wines by volume then any other Italian wine region with nearly 84% of all the areas wine production falling under a DOC/G designation.

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