Friday, August 1, 2014

Coming Soon: The Wines of La Vuelta



Each year I make the same Adam Hansen joke and fail to drink the wines of the Vuelta. This year, because of a decision made while suffering from Tour induced sleep deprivation,  I am drinking what we could call a "half-Vuelta." I'll not have a wine for every stage. but thanks to the help of Christy at Frankly Wines, I have ten bottles lined up for stages during the race. Which is more than the seven I originally intended, but I sometimes get carried away.

For those not as obsessed with professional cycling as I am, the Vuelta is the third and final three week Grand Tour of the season. I admit that in my mind it has always been third : I love the (usual) excitement of the Giro and the Tour is, well, the grandest of the three. The Vuelta is poorly televised in the US (Dear Comcast: Why can I not have Universal Sports again?) and hits right at that back to school rush time of year. So I have watched, but with far less intensity than the other two races.
It may also be that I know far less about Spain and the Spanish wine than I do about Italy and France. So I am looking forward to learning something during this project.

About this year's race:
Running from Saturday August 23rd to Sunday September 14th 2014, the Vuelta will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3181,5 kilometres (before ratification).

5 flat stages
13 hill and mountain stages
1 team time trial stage
2 individual time trial stages

Distinctive aspects of the race

12,6 kilometres team time trial stage
44,5 individual time trial stages
40 summits


The route:

Monday, July 28, 2014

Wines of the Tour de France 2014: The Complete List




Hard to believe that another edition of the Tour is over. I am pretty delighted by Vincenzo Nibali's victory. He rode a wonderful race from start to finish and as some readers may know, I've been a fan of his racing style for years. Other highlights: cobbles, Tony Martin and two Frenchmen on the podium.
On a sad note, I'm still upset about Cav crashing out and it would have been a pleasure to see Taylor Phinney in his first Tour. Next year!

Wine-wise, my biggest thank you  to Christy Frank from Frankly Wines who is responsible for sourcing and suggesting many of the wines that I pair with each day's stage. Her enthusiastic help makes this both an easier and more interesting project. Who else would find both a wine from Luxembourg and suggest to still wines for the Champagne stages? 
It would also not be a Wines of the Tour without several wines from
Selection Massale. Sign up for their mailing list here.  


Below: the complete Tour wine list, with links to each blog post. 

My wine of the Tour: Marie-Noelle Ledru Coteaux Champenois Ambonnay Rouge

Stage 1: 2011 Ridgeview Sparkling Cavendish
Stage 2: Cadenhead's Old Raj Gin
Stage 3: Fernando Castillo en Rama fino
Stage 4: Cuvee des Jacobins rouge and Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale
Stage 5: Clos de Rochers Auxerrois
Stage 6: 2008 Roger Coulon Coteaux Champenois Blanc
Stage 7: Marie-Noelle Ledru Coteaux Champenois Ambonnay Rouge
Stage 8: Chateau de Vaux Pinot 2012
Stage 9: Domaine Ostertag 2011 Riesling Vignobe D’e
Stage 10: Guy Bussière Domaine du Val de Saone Gamay Flûte Enchantée
Stage 11: Bornard Tant-Mieux Pétillant Naturel Rosé NV
Stage 12: Maison B Perraud  Moulin a Vent 2012 
Stage 13: Dominique Lucas "Un Matin Face au Lac" Chasselas 2012
Stage 14: A La Tache, "Badel"  Saint Joseph
Stage 15: Château de Lascaux Rosé 2013 
Stage 16: 2012 Aubunite La Sorga
Stage 17: La Ferme du Vert l'AmouReuse
Stage 18: Atxa Vermouth Blanco
Stage 19: Cazottes Reine-Claude
Stage 20: Chateau les Farcies Pécharmant
Stage 21: Andre Robert Les Mesnil 2006


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Wines of the Tour Stage 21: And This is How the Race Ends: Kittel & Andre Robert Les Mesnil 2006



Where are we: Évry - Paris Champs-Élysées 137.5km
Le Tour link: http://www.letour.com/le-tour/2014/us/stage-21.html







LeTour preview: The pictures of the 2013 apotheosis, with the pack riding past the Louvre and around the Arc de Triomphe, are still fresh in everyone's minds. These two highlights will be back this year, as well as the traditional climb up the Champs-Élysées, which is much trickier than it seems! It will all lead up to the spectacular pictures of the final sprint, magnified by the France Télévisions footage. I will go out on a limb and say Cavendish will take another win in Paris to go with the four he has got already. But that is just my opinion...

The race: Always such a strange stage. Purely ceremonial for a very long time generally followed by a very aggressive bunch sprint. Oh Cav, we miss you! 
Meanwhile, ceremony:


While waiting for the excitement, read about La Course:





And there they went, around and around. Crashes, attacks and eventually lots of tv time for Richie Porte:



Behind, would our lanterne rouge finish?



Just over seven kilometers to go and Porte was caught. All seemed set for a sprint finish. An attack from Simon Clarke. 2.9 kilometers to go and he was caught. I'm hoping for Renshaw. Hey, Bernie!  A bit of a chaotic sprint there, but at the end, the expected result. 






Stage: Marcel Kittel



Yellow: Vincenzo Nibali

1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 89:59:06  
2 Jean-Christophe Péraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:07:37  
3 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr 0:08:15  
4 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:09:40  
5 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:11:24  
6 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:11:26  
7 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team Netapp-Endura 0:14:32  
8 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Trek Factory Racing 0:17:57  
9 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling 0:18:11  
10 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling 0:21:15  
 

Wine: Andre Robert Les Mesnil 2006
From Dig
From the importer, Return to Terroir: André Robert is a Recoltant Manipulant, or “grower-producer” Champagne, identifiable by a small “RM” on the label. This means that the wine is made by the same person who owns the vines and farms the grapes. While common in other regions of France, this is rare in Champagne, where growers historically have contracted with one of the 110 houses (for example, Veuve Clicquot or Krug) to buy their grapes each year. Out of 19,000 growers, only 1200 produce their own label, largely due to the cost to produce, age and market good Champagne. The Roberts, however, are a part of the rising number of growers to take this on since after World War II. Winemaking has been a way of life for the Robert family since the 1800′s, but they did not own their current estate until 1960 when Andre bought the house, along with its maze of cellars, and 6.6 hectares of vines. The vines are broken up into extremely small plots – so small that the Roberts like to say they are gardeners, not farmers. Many of these are situated in the Grand Cru village of Le Mesnil sur Oger, which is known for its chalky soil. The Robert’s vines are located midway up the chalky slopes where the limestone reaches the surface in a block sometimes over 200 meters deep.

Overall, 2006 was a warm yearwith a hot July, grey and cooler August, followed
by a warm, dry September.
TASTING NOTES Floral and minerally on the nose withlots of apple, meyer lemon and unripe peachon the palate. Fresh and not overly toasty. It finishes clean and crisp

From the producer:
100% Chardonnay­ Grape – Dosage 7 to 8 g/litre
The wine is raised and stirred for 7 months in 225- litre oak barrels with occasional stirring. There is no malolactic fermentation.

Style Fine and elegant as an English Lord, refreshing as a sunny summer morning – these are the features of the 2006 vintage faithfully revealed in this MESNIL vintage.


I say:  Champagne today, though I considered a favorite Sicilian wine to honor Nibali. But, I've written about it before. Do know that my love of the Calabretta Rosato remains strong.
Rich and nutty with pear, apple and yeast.

 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Wines of the Tour Stage 20: Tony Martin, Our Final GC & Chateau les Farcies Pécharmant



Where are we:
Bergerac / Périgueux
Le Tour link: http://www.letour.com/le-tour/2014/us/stage-20.html

Starting in Bergerac. Maybe time for some reading?

Michelin tells me this about Périgueux: "The ancient city with its Gallo-Roman villa crowned by a glass roof by Jean Nouvel stands on one side of the town, with the medieval and Renaissance district on the other, including the Cathédrale St-Front, with Byzantine cupolas by Paul Abadie. The modern Place de Francheville, with a garden and cinema complex, lies between the two. These two districts join up and follow a “green” path (voie verte) running along the River Isle, providing pleasant walks and different views of the town."
In honor of the last Tour of the great Jens! Voigt, maybe some geocaching
Specialities : Périgueux sauce (truffl e and foie gras), Périgueux pâté (foie gras and charcuterie truffle in a pastry crust), nut cake, mushroom omelette, truffles 


Le Tour preview: What happens in the organisers' dreams? The final winner is decided in this 54 km time trial. But I think the gaps will have opened naturally in the three weeks since the Grand Start in Leeds. I said it once and I will say it again: even without a second time trial, the 2013 Froome would have crushed the opposition on this route... But will the 2014 Froome be as strong as last year's? It all boils down to this. If so, he will certainly be in the mix to win the stage, whose solid course is more tailored to men in great form than to true specialists like Martin, Wiggins and Cancellara.

The race: Ah, the time trial. Although there is a lot on the line today, watching a time trial can be less than thrilling. I'm hoping for a Tony Martin win. Beyond that, it will all come down to the gaps between those hoping for podium spots below Nibali. 
Our early leader:



Next in the hot seat: Barta, as we wait for Tony Martin to finish. I find myself wondering how many riders he will end up passing. 






And eventually it was time for the gc riders. At this point, there were three minute gaps between the start times for the riders. Just a reminder that
Thibaut Pinot (Fdj.fr) starts the TT in second place but leads fellow Frenchman Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) by just 13 seconds. Spain's Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is just 15 seconds behind Pinot.The last time two French riders finished on the Tour podium was back in 1984 with Hinault and Fignon.




Tejay was having a good day:



On the course, a flat for Peraud, but a very quick bike change. 



Another flat, this time Bardet as Tejay van Garderen comes in fifth. Wow and with that bike change, he loses his fifth place on the gc to van Garderen. 



Valverde finishes 4’28” down. Pearud 2'26". Pinot 3'12". At the end, Nibali would finish fourth on the stage. Another great ride for him today.

Tomorrow, the ceremonial ride to Paris, so there should be no gc changes. 


Stage: Tony Martin


 
Yellow: Vincenzo Nibali
 




Wine: Chateau les Farcies Pécharmant
From Frankly Wines


The producer says: The Dubard family purchased this Farcies du Pech’ estate in 2000 for the charm of its old-stone castle (XVIIIth century) and the quality and the reputation of the Pécharmant vineyards. The10-hectare vineyard consists out of 20-year old vines on average. 
The personality of this wine can be partly explained by the terroir it is sourced from, typical of Pécharmant, composed out of sand and gravel containing a deep ferrugineous clay layer. This layer, locally called “Tran”, is well-known to give
a mineral hint to the wine. 
Sustainable viticulture practises are used in the
vineyard. The high number of vines (5,000/ha) allows lower yield per vine (50 hL/ha), thereby giving the much sought after concentration and depth to wine.

The de-stemmed and crushed grapes underwent a 4-week maceration at 28°C. During fermentation, repeated pumping-over and one délestage (rack-and-return) at the early st ages guarantee a soft and progressive extraction of the phenolic structure. After malolactic fermentation, the wine was separated int
o three batches, to be matured for 12 months, in French oak barrels : one third in new barrels, one third in second fill barrels, and the last third in third fill barrels. Over these 12 months, regular stirring is suggested to ensure that the yeast lees are in suspension. These 3 batches are then blended back, which adds a delicate, integrated oak to both the nose and the palate.

Cabernet varieties communicate to “Les Farcies du Pech’” a complex nose where coffee, tobacco, cinnamon and black pepper are harmoniously blended. Ample and well structured, this Pécharmant has already pleasantly loosened up and filled out with time. The palate ends up on a firm minerality due to the specific
terroir, which gives a lot of personality to this wine.

This intense and deep red wine will form an ideal
accompaniment to terrine dishes, roasted poultry or with sauce,and cheese. “


I say:  The regional wine organizaiton tells me that: Pécharmant AOC wines are made from Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Côt or Malbec and Merlot Noir. The incomparable taste of Pécharmant is, to a great extent, due to its soil; the sand and gravel of the Périgord which hides deep down a layer of iron clay known as the « Tran ». Pécharmant has great potential to age.
Lots of black pepper. Smells like Cab Franc to me. Deserving of the (often dreaded) word smooth. I liked this one much more than I expected. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Wines of the Tour Stage 19: An Elephant, Navardauskas & Cazottes Reine-Claude



Where are we:
 Maubourguet Pays du Val d'Adour / Bergerac
Le Tour link: http://www.letour.com/le-tour/2014/us/stage-19.html

An area of plains and hills, the Pays du Val d'Adour is at the crossroads of the Béarn, Bigorre and Gascogne cultures.I think we should visit a market:
Country markets contain treasures and are perpetual invitation to sit at the table. The foie gras and duck course, not forgetting the eternal and so delicious duck. Fruits and vegetables from conscious productions to offer consumers products that taste good! We would not be complete unless we were talking about black Bigorre pig whose deli has an eternal taste of "back-y", ceps, chestnuts and Tarbes beans that can be said without harm they are ultimate bean. Finally, do not forget to wash it all down with Madiran or Pacherenc, in moderation of course.  
www.hautes-pyrenees-steps-of-pays.com  
Market day is Tuesday from 7:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Specialities : Wines from Madiran, Pacherenc and Saint-Mont, the Mulard duck and its derivatives (foie gras, confits, whole duck), beans, garbure (French stew/soup), Gascon pastis, honey, Bigorre black pork.

Our finishing town is Bergerac. On the main square of the common, a statue of Cyrano is displayed, although the hero who inspired Edmond Rostand's theatre play never put a foot in the city.
Maybe it is time for a regional recipe? Given that peaches are in season, maybe duck roasted with peaches?
Specialities : wine, strawberries, ceps, duck, cabécou soft goats cheese, four michelin starred chefs, a world champion pastry chef

Le Tour preview: Time to take a breather! This 208 km stage is completely devoid of any real difficulties and, on paper at least, should smile upon the sprinters. However, I am betting on a lone rider to take it, a brave one who has still got something in the tank and manages to sneak away from a mammoth breakaway. Think of Rui Costa last year. He hit the bullseye twice in the final week. With the time trial and the Champs-Élysées, two specialist affairs where surprises are few and far between, looming on the horizon, this stage is last chance saloon for breakaway specialists.

The race: Our probably doomed break of the day: Slagter, Gérard, Gautier, Taaramae and Elmiger. After 75 kilometres, their gap was 2:32.Lousy weather may be the big story of the day:



Besides the weather, the main story of the day was lots and lots of flat tires. 

Some well done car field art:



Oh, and there was an elephant:


Fifty seven kilometers to go and the gap was still around 2:30. On the road: more rain. Ahead, Slagter attacked his break mates. 
More field art:



Twenty-five kilometers to go and Slagter's gap was under one minute. From the field, an attack by Bakelants, but he was quickly caught. As they got closer to town, there was a split in the peloton. Among those dropped, Kittel. Garmin was working hard for a stage win today, covering every attack. Also near the front: Sagan. He has been frustrated so many times this race, could he finally win the stage? Ahead on his own, Navardauskas. Ten kilometers to go and he had eleven seconds. Seven kilometers to go and twenty seconds. Behind though, the chase seemed to be organizing. Crash behind, just inside the three kilometer point so the riders would all get the same time as the main pack. Included in the pile up, Sagan, Greipel and Bardet. Ahead, Ramunas Navardauskas held on for the win. Tomorrow: the time trial.




Stage: Ramunas Navardauskas


 
Yellow: Vincenzo Nibali


Wine: Cazottes Reine-Claude (Eau de vie)
From Frankly Wines

Here is what Christy says: "Authenticity Mercenary" Laurent Cazottes is on a mission - he revived vineyards planted in the 1970s, returned to specific cultivation and distilling techniques traditional to French master practices and set about a life among the orchards and vines in the tiny village of Albi.

Using fruit from his organic orchard in the Albi area of Languedoc, Laurent distils eaux-de-vie and liqueurs with an unparalleled elegance and aroma. These elixirs have caught the attention of New Yorkers and some of the world's great chefs. Until Nicolas Palazzi started importing these lovely bottles, they could really only be found at the world’s top restaurants.  Pierre Gagnaire, the renowned Grand Vefour and a host of others have honored his unwavering dedication to each "noble" essence. Surrounded by greengages, quince, cherries plums and a host of flowers, Laurent monitors all from his home and garden at the center of the domaine's orchards. It’s basically his garden in these bottles. And we’re happy it’s no longer a secret.


Producer website.  
 
I say:  You might remember that I had a wild cherry wine from this producer last year. I liked it so much that I was eager to try something else from him this year.
Greengage, or Reine-Claude, are wild plums with a delicious, tart character. Much like the cherry from last year, this is highly perfumed and equally fascinating.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wines of the Tour Stage 18: Nibali Dominates & Atxa Vermouth Blanco



Where are we:
Pau / Hautacam
Le Tour link: http://www.letour.com/le-tour/2014/us/stage-18.html

In Pau, how about a visit to the birthplace of a king? More info from the local tourist website:
The national museum of the Castle of Pau: This superb royal residence is above all the birthplace of Henry IV, King of France and Navarre.
The building perpetuates the homage and legend of the first king of the Bourbon dynasty.The architectural set of buildings has undergone three major restorations: The first took place in the Middle Ages, the second at the Renaissance and the third in the middle of the 19th century.
It has been classified as a National Museum and provides visitors with nearly 800 years of history allowing them to enjoy an elaborate set of decorations including one of the most beautiful collections of tapestries in Europe.
The recent restorations carried out both inside and outside have given the building an outstanding lustre.
The castle and its surrounding parks and gardens are situated on the outskirts of the old market town, near to the oldest golf course on the European mainland.
Specialities : wines from Jurançon and Madiran, foie gras, garbure (thick French soup or stew), béarnaise sauce, poule au pot (chicken in a pot)

Lots of info on Hautacam and the climb here from Inrng:"Hautacam is the name a nearby mountain peak which in turn was appropriated by a local tourist office to give to the modest ski resort. It’s as if Zermatt decided to call itself Matterhorn or Chamonix and Courmayeur were named Mont Blanc and Monte Bianco. Only the Hautacam ski resort started out as a car park and little else and today it’s not much more either. But the Tour de France is able to put the place on the map, indeed taking the name of a nearby peak is only the start, the Tour has labelled the finish Lourdes-Hautacam despite Lourdes being almost 30km away."
Specialities : garbure bigourdane (French soup/stew), gâteau à la broche (cake on a spit), porc noir de Bigorre (Bigorre black pork)


Le Tour preview: At 145.5 km, this stage is also quite short. Compared with the previous one, riders will probably see it as an opportunity to catch their breath. True, the elimination time will be more generous. Yet they would do well not to underestimate the stage. First of all, they will have to climb the Col du Tourmalet, always a challenge. Next up, the final climb up Hautacam, which has earned a hallowed place in the history of the Tour. We hope the Tourmalet is used as a launch pad for attacks and does not go to waste. If so, pretenders to a podium spot or even the overall win could use it to claw back some time.

The race: Once again our early break has some interesting names: Mikel Nieve (Sky), Jesus Herrada and Jon Izaguirre (Movistar), Yuriy Trofimov (Katusha), Alessandro De Marchi and Marco Marcato (Cannondale), Lars Boom (Belkin), Jan Bakelants (OPQS), Blel Kadri (AG2R), Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ), Daniel Oss (BMC), Bryan Coquard, Kévin Reza and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Julien Simon (Cofidis), Sylvain Chavanel and Marcel Wyss (IAM), Bartosz Huzarski and Tiago Machado (NetApp) and Florian Guillou (Bretagne). Chava lives! With one hundred kilometers to go, their gap was 3:25. 
Field art, now with a cow costume:




And then it was time for the Tourmalet. At the front of the race: Chava attcked! (Finally.) Sadly, he was caught and passed by Nieve and Kadri, who would remain out front together at the top of the climb. 



And then an attack from Valverde on the descent. 


He was not, however, gaining very much time. Eventually, they were caught. With 22.5 kilometers to go Nieve and Kadri still had a gap of 2'45". 
Wow:





Early on the climb, Nieve dropped Kadri. I was still betting on the gc group catching the riders ahead. Behind an attack by Chris Horner. Nibali followed! 


And then Nibali dropped him and very quickly caught Nieve and flew by him. Behind, Majka attacked. If Nibali wins the stage, Majka needs to finish sixth to keep the polka dot jersey. Lots of additional attacks behind. 
Stupid fan alert:


Dropped behind: Valverde. Still solo in the lead: Nibali. With Valverde fading, the race for the second and third spots on the podium has created much of the drama on the day. 







Stage: Vincenzo Nibali


 
Yellow: Vincenzo Nibali



Wine: Atxa Vermouth Blanco
From Frankly Wines
From the importer, T Edwards :
Founded in 1831, Destilerías Acha has been at the forefront of distillation in the Basque Country for years. The distillery is located in Amurrio, 50 km from the Cantabrian Sea. Today, Gabriel Acha maintains the traditions and recipes passed down by his ancestors for the distillation and creation of liqueurs and spirits with all natural ingredients. The distillery is famous for many products including the traditional Basque after-dinner drink known as Pacharán.

Vino Vermouth is another traditional recipe the Acha family is keeping alive. Vermouth is a fortified and aromatized wine that is macerated with a selection of herbs, fruits and roots. The word “vermouth” comes from the German word for “wormwood”, which was originally one of its primary infused ingredients.

I say: For years I never gave vermouth much thought. But then I became slightly obsessed with making a very good Manhattan at home. So I experimented a bit and discovered that I liked vermouth over ice. For the record, Carpano is my Manhattan vermouth of choice.
This to me is a sipping vermouth. Yum. Floral and spicy and just lovely over ice. I'll buy more of this.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wines of the Tour Stage 17: Majka Winks & La Ferme du Vert l'AmouReuse



Where are we:
Saint-Gaudens / Saint-Lary Pla d'Adet 
Le Tour link: http://www.letour.com/le-tour/2014/us/stage-17.html

Saint-Gaudens: The local tourist website tells me that  Saint-Gaudens is an administrative centre (sous-préfecture) for the south of the Haute-Garonne département, at an altitude of 405m on a ledge overlooking the Valley of the Garonne. It faces the Pyrenees and is a natural crossroads for routes between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean and between Toulouse and the Val d'Aran in Spain.
It has been inhabited since ancient times (traces of the Iron Age and of Roman occupation) and was originally called Mas-Saint-Pierre, before taking the name of the young shepherd, Gaudens, martyred by the Visigoths at the end of the 5th Century for refusing to renounce his faith: a dramatic tale!

The town later developed around the 11th Century Romanesque church. It was granted its city charter in 1202 and became the capital of the Nébouzan area, protected by solid ramparts. As an important regional marketplace, Saint-Gaudens became the economic capital of the Comminges.

The town was damaged by Protestant forces under Montgomery in 1569, and became the seat of the Nébouzan Assembly after coming under the control of the French crown in 1607. The name was changed briefly to "Mont-Unité" during the Revolution and the area later became part of the Haute-Garonne départment.

No Tour specialties 

Our finishing town is  Saint-Lary. The local tourist website suggests that one coud visit the Pyrenees National Park: Created in 1968, the Pyrenees National Park covers 45,700 hectares stretching along the Aspe Valley, as far as the Aure Valley. With the adjoining Néouvielle Nature Reserve (2,300 hectares), it provides a veritable sanctuary for the Pyrenean flora and fauna.
For more than 25 years, the Pyrenean National Park has protected 46,000 hectares of land, and a further 15,000 hectares in the Ordesa National Park in Spain.
You'll find a rich assortment of flora including over 400 species, such as the Pyrenean violet, fritillary, saxifrage, Pyrenean lily... and some remarkable fauna. If you look up in the sky you'll see the Bearded Vulture, the Royal Eagle or the Egyptian vulture, and closer to the ground, marmots and izards and, if you're lucky, you'll get to follow the tracks of the grizzly bear (sadly a dying species).


Specialities : Bigorre black pork, garbure (thick French soup or stew with ham), soupe de sarrous (spinach soup), gâteau à la broche (cake cooked on a spit)
Le Tour preview: At 125 km, the shortest stage comes just after the longest. To be honest, it will be a hectic 125 kilometres, since it is all up and down from kilometre 50 all the way until the summit finish on Plat d'Adet. Even the leaders will find this a tricky stage. And the riders in the autobus... For them, it will be a stage of trials and tribulations, with a tight elimination time which will force sprinters to spend the entire stage à bloc. Several green jersey contenders could end up having to pack their suitcases after this stage! The final podium will start to take shape. Without a doubt, the highlight of the race.

The race: The shortest stage of the race is also the Queen stage (the day with the highest point in the race). They are also riding into Spain. Not starting today, Simon Gerrans and Reto Hollenstein. 
Our break of the day contains some familiar names: Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Tom Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp), Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling), Yukio Arashiro (Europcar), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Biel Kadri (AG2R-La Mondiale), Jens! Voigt (Trek Factory Racing) and Sergio Paulinho (TInkoff-Saxo). Chasing behind: Katusha. Abandoning: Spilak.







As soon as they started to go up, the peloton got very small, very quickly as riders both launched off the front and fell off the back. I say once again: grupetto cam would be a wonderful addition to Tour coverage. Meanwhile, up front we had: Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo), Bauke Mollema (Belkin), Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha), Kristijan Durasek (Lampre Merdia) and Alessandro de Marchi. Behind them, with 68 kilometers to go, 18 chasers at 27" and the first peloton at 50". Points to J-Rod as he continued his quest for the polka dot jersey. 




Some regrouping out front and the lead group was twenty two strong:
Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lott-Belisol), Frank Schleck (Trek Factory Racing), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Peter Velits (BMC), Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Jon Izagirre (Movistar), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Amaël Moinard (BMC), Yukio Arashiro (Europcar), Jesus Herrada (Movistar), Vasil Kiryienka (Sky), Biel Kadri (AG2R-La Mondiale), Rein Taaramae (Cofidis), Bauke Mollema (Belkin), Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo), Joaqium Rodríguez (Katusha), Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida), David Lopez (Sky) and Alessandro de Marchi (Cannondale). And then an attack by Kiriyenka, who was soon in the lead, solo. 






Thirty kilometers to go and the first and second chase groups came back together. Kiriyienka was still solo out front. 




With 23.3 kilometers to go, Kiryienka’s advantage was 18” to the 13 rider chase group and  3’46” to the peloton. Soon though, Kiriyienka was caught. 




With around six kilometers to go: Visconti was ahead of Rolland, Moinard, Roche,and  Majka by 33”. Bardet was 1’52” back. Yellow jersey group was at 2’05”. The big news though: Valverde seemed to crack! There were only nine men left in the yellow jersey group, including, Bardet, Peraud, Pinot, Valverde and Van Garderen. There went Nibali, with Peraud following. Ahead, Majka caught Visconti. They rode together for a while, before Majka dropped him. Majka was clearly feeling well, as he winked, again, at the camera. 



Behind, Valverde, with the help from teammates, actually gained time over Pinot and van Garderen. 


Stage: Rafal Majka




Yellow: Vincenzo Nibali 



 


Wine: La Ferme du Vert l'AmouReuse
From Frankly Wines $21.99

From the producer :
Le Vert is a farmhouse in an idyllic setting on the edge of the Grésigny forest and is part of the "Tour of Country Houses".
The Galaup family is there to welcome you, to share their love of quality food and wine and to offer you a taste of the local produce. The wine and veal produced on the farm are well-known for their excellent flavour.
I own 5 hectares of vines and take care to produce quality wine. I tend the vines in the way that is traditional in the Gaillac vineyards in the “department” of Tarn in France.

The preparation and vinification are also done in the traditional way.
The grapes are harvested by hand between September and December.  During this period the grapes are picked after over-ripening.
The crushing is monitored manually and after extracting the juice fermentation is done at low temperatures.  Every stage ensures that the wine is a genuine wine of this area.
All these stages produce wines of which The authenticity is preserved.

I say: First off, my daughter would like to send a big thank you to Christy at Frankly Wines for finding good options from the Pyrenees this year. She still complains about the year we went to five wine stores in search of options.

Mauzac is a white grape. It is mainly grown in the Gaillac and Limoux regions in southwest  France.Mauzac buds and ripens late, and was traditionally picked quite late, when temperatures had dropped in Limoux. This allowed for slow fermentation which preserved residual sugar for a "natural" second fermentation in the spring, creating a sparkling wine.
Sweet, but very balanced.  Rather delicious. Even the French visitor enjoyed it.