Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Wines of the Tour Stage 16: GC Shuffles After the Rest Day, Mick Rogers and Aubunite La Sorga

Where are we:
Carcassonne / Bagnères-de-Luchon  
Le Tour link:http://www.letour.com/le-tour/2014/us/stage-16.html

From the tourist website:
The Legend of Dame Carcas
The Saracen occupation inspired medieval writers to create one of our most famous legends, with of course Charlemagne as the hero!

The emperor set siege to Carcassonne. The king of the Saracens, BALLAK, was killed and it was then that his wife, "Dame Carcass", decided to take action.
The siege had already been lasting for 5 years and famine was taking its toll on the last defenders. Behind the walls Dame Carcass kept watch alone; she set up straw effigies; she fired off crossbows at the besieging army to give the impression that many defenders remained.

In the city, there remained just one small pig and one measure of wheat to feed the population. So Dame Carcass force-fed her pig with the rest of the wheat and hurled it over the walls. The pig burst open on hitting the ground and from its torn belly poured a veritable flood of good grain.
Charlemagne immediately abandoned the pointless siege: there was clearly so much grain in Carcassonne that they even fed their pigs on it!
Before the large army disappeared, Dame Carcass called on Charlemagne to make peace.
She had the trumpets sound (“Carcass sonne..” ) The Emperor retraced his steps to receive her allegiance!
Specialites : Club Prosper Montagné, cooking competition, cassoulet, wines from Aude (Minervois, Cabardès, Corbières, Malepère)

From the tourist webiste: Bagnères de Luchon, usually called Luchon, is a thermal town since the Antiquity. The first Baths were built during the Roman periode, but with the fall of the Roman Empire, they were forgotten and were no longer used excepted by the local population. Over the years, the Baths have expanded and are now composed of 3 buildings. Luchon is specialized in respiratory and rheumatism cares, but was able to expand its offerings and now offers courses of smoking cessation, “cures freedom”, care against low back pain and fibromyalgia plus an important fitness center. At 1800 meters high, Superbagnères overhangs Luchon. It is the first ski resort created in the Pyrenees, the second in France after Chamonix. At first, it was connected to Luchon by a small train rack, whose activity ceased in 1966 after construction of the road. Since 1993, it is possible to get up to Superbagnères by taking the gondola lift. 

Specialities : pétéram (a dish prepared from sheep tripe) pistache (mutton based cassoulet), gâteau à la broche (cake cooked on a spit), “Dardenne” chocolates, Mineral water from Luchon, organic Oô trout, Pyrenean soap factory

Le Tour preview: The longest stage of the 2014 Tour comes right up the second rest day. With 237.5 km on the menu and the Port de Balès as a dessert, the riders will spend about six hours on the saddle.
The last few years have shown that riders who make it to the top with a margin of 30 to 40 seconds can rest assured of keeping it until the finish and taking the win in Bagnères-de-Luchon. The odds are on the attackers' side, thus. Sure, this does not look like the toughest stage in the Tour, but remember that this is where Andy Schleck lost the yellow jersey due to a mechanical in 2010.

The race:  Longest day of the race, expect a breakaway. Not starting this morning: Simon Yates and Rui Costa. Indeed our group of the morning consists of Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega pHarma-QuickStep), Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol), Greg van Avermaet (BMC), Jon Izagirre (Movistar), Jose Serpa (Lampre-Merida), Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEdge), Tom Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp), Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge), Jeremy Roy (FDJ), Matteo Montaguti (AG2R-La Mondiale), Kevin Reza (Europcar), Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R-La Mondiale), Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne Séché Environment), Vasil Kiryienka (Sky), Florian Vachon (Bretagne Séché Environment), Bernard Eisel (Sky), Roger Kluge (IAM Cycling). Bernie! 

With just under 100 kilometers to go, their gap was at eight minutes. Up it went, to about eleven minutes with 66 kilometers to go. Kwiatkowski had ridden himself into virtual 7th. 

Cav is at the race today:

Back on the road, 38.5 kilometers to go and the gap was 12’39”. It looked like a winner from the break was likely. But would the gc riders attack each other behind or were they waiting for tomorrow? With Sky's difficult Tour, there has been little of Bernie Eisel at the front. But there he was today, leading the break. Of course, as it went up, he was dropped. He was soon replaced at the front by his teammate Kiryienka. 

Lots of attacks came from within that shrinking breakaway group. The riders remaining: Serpa, Rogers, Van Avermaet, Kiriyenka, Voeckler and Gautier. Cyril Gautier attacks, with just Rogers, Serpa and Voeckler left. B
ehind, lots of dropped riders as well in the main peloton. We had reached the riders all over the mountain point of the stage.

 Dropped from the yellow jersey group: Tejay van Garderen. Also, Bardet, as Pinot attacked. 

Ahead Kiriyenka caught Gauthier, Serpa, Rogers and Voeckler were not far ahead.

Ahead, Mick Rogers was at the front of the break, using a small descending gap to time trial clear of Gautier. And he would make it with plenty of time to celebrate. 

In together behind, Nibali, Valverde, Péraud and Pinot. Tejay van Garderen was losing lost of time. Big changes on gc today. 

Stage: Mick Rogers

Yellow: Vincenzo Nibali

Wine: 2012 Aubunite La Sorga 
From Selection Massale: Now this has to be one of the weirdest wines we've ever carried.

Just look at the label. Seriously. An rose wine with...that label.

It's supposedly rose made from Aubun (a widely planted but rarely taken serious Southern French variety) and Carignan within the Faugeres AOC.
We say supposedly a rose, because to us, it drinks like a perfect lighter red.
Aubun is a very late ripening grape that has very little alcohol no matter what you do with (excepting bags and bags of sugar), even though it's usually harvested in Mid-November.

Last year, the blend was made into a darker red, with about 11% alcohol and it was a big hit. This year, it comes as a light, fragrant, natural beauty, pale red with the same 11% alcohol.
If you've had been following Antony's work so far, you know what to expect, a polarizing wine.  Some of you love it and can't stop bugging us for more, some will wonder what the hell we're doing.  We can live with that, it's that kind of wine.  For those of you who haven't, this is a light, funky, glou-glou wine,definitely more on the natural side, it's bright and spicy, vibrant, alive. meant for everyday drinking.

I say: Pink, full, some residual sugar. Cherries. Minimal bubbles. Tannic.  More fruit as it warms up. Kind of cidery. Paired well with mu shoo pork.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Wines of the Tour Stage 15: Dark Clouds, Kristoff & Château de Lascaux Rosé

Where are we: Tallard to Nimes
Le Tour Link:http://www.letour.com/le-tour/2014/us/stage-15.html

Tallard is 20 km (12 mi) to the south of Gap and on the road from Gap to Marseille. The A51 ends just to the south of the village at La Saulce. The village is 21 km (13 mi) away from La Bâtie-Vieille and is also home to the Internationally renowned Gap-Tallard Aerodrome, home of CERPS Skydiving Club and French military parachute training.
Specialities : Golden Delicious apples, Tresbaudon wine (Muscat white wine, gold medal winner at the General Agricultural Competition 2014 in Paris)

Nîmes is the capital of the Gard department in the Languedoc-Roussillon. Nîmes has a rich history, dating back to the Roman Empire when the city was home to 50,000 – 60,000 people. Today the city is a popular tourist destination.  Somewhere there even exists a photo of me (from those pre-digital days) at the The Pont du Gard, which was built shortly before the Christian era to allow the aqueduct of Nîmes to cross the Gard river. The Roman architects and hydraulic engineers who designed this bridge, which stands almost 50 m high and is on three levels – the longest measuring 275 m – created a technical as well as an artistic masterpiece. 
Also, some trivia from Willj at Podium Cafe: "The word "denim (blue jeans) " comes from the fact that it was originally made in Nîmes. “de nîmes” = “from nîmes”"
Specialities : Costières wine from Nîmes, brandade (emulsion of salt cod and olive oil), croquants Villaret biscuits, picholine (green olive), olive oil, petits pâtés nîmois (famous miniature pies), Gariguettes strawberries

Le Tour preview: A long transition stage to round off the second week of the Tour. It appears unlikely that the sprinters will be thwarted in this majestic finish opposite the Nîmes arena. But you never know... Last year, betting on anything but a mass sprint in Saint-Amand-Montrond seemed lunacy. But then, the wind blew the race apart! Thus, a stage which looked like nothing special went down in history as one of the most thrilling in the last decade. It all goes to show that the outcome of a stage is not cast in stone, so watch out if the oft-present mischievous wind starts to blow...

The race: An expected sprint stage with the possibility of echelons? Count me in. Speaking of weather, the forecast for the day:

Not surprisingly, we had an early morning, pre-television coverage break of the day. They were given a long leash. 

But with not much action on the road, the story of the day was the weather:

Plus a bit of field art:

Crosswinds!  Echelons! Lots of riders were dropping due to the high speed of the peloton, including Porte, J-Rod and Voeckler. But as the pace slowed, with around 70 kilometers to go, Porte got back on, though many did not. 

BMC to the front and there was a lot of scrambling going on. Nice work from Nibali to join in with them.

Fifty three kilometers to go and the gap to the break was under two minutes.  As the break neared the intermediate sprint point, the rain started. Coquard took maximum points from the field, followed by Renshaw and Sagan. Ahead were slick roads and multiple roundabouts.

Wow was it dark:

Twenty two kilometers to go and an attack by Kwiatkowski. But he would be caught. Fifteen kilometers to go and the gap was around one minute. At the finish the sun was apparently out, though the roads were still wet. Ten kilometers to go and the gap was at 47 seconds. 
Wouldn't this be nice?

Hey, Tony Martin! It had been a few days since he had been on the front. Four kilometers to go and it was still a thirty second gap. One kilometer to go and 14 seconds. But they would be caught. Poor Bauer, it really did look like he might take the win. Instead, a bunch sprint. 

Stage: Alexander Kristoff

Yellow: Vincenzo Nibali

Wine: Château de Lascaux Rosé 2013  
From Dig

From the  importer:
The vineyards of Château de Lascaux have been in the family for thirteen generations. The name of the domaine, “Lascaux” comes from a limestone specific to the domaine’s vineyard sites. Jean-Benoît Cavalier took direction of the property in 1984, just after finishing a degree in Agricultural Engineering. In 1990, he consolidated the vineyards, restructured the ancient cellars, and created the official domaine, Château de Lascaux. Today, over twenty-five years later, the domaine has expanded from twenty-five to eighty-five hectares of vineyards, surrounded by three-hundred hectares of forest, filled with green oaks, pines, and garrigue. The quiet isolation of this part of the region, coupled with its proximity to both the sea and the mountains, makes this microclimate so unique. It is nestled along the foothills of the Cevennes, a mountain range that sits in the heart of the Midi. These foothills protect the vines from the cool Mistral and Tramontagne winds, and bring more rain to an otherwise dry climate.  That this temperate zone brings a long, slow ripening of the grapes only adds to the wines’ complexity. The stony soil lends finesse and freshness to his wines, giving the reds greater aging potential than Syrah-based wines grown in other Languedoc soils. The proliferation of garrique certainly is reflected in the aromatics, where notes of laurel, thyme, rosemary, réglisse, and mint are present in the wines. Jean-Benoît is passionate about supporting the richness and diversity of this ecosystem, so the domaine’s conversion to organic viticulture was a logical choice.

I say so: Oh so pale. Fresh, bright, fruity but balanced with some minerals. So easy to drink. I tend to drink rosé year round here in San Francisco (hello, cool summers) but for those in warmer climates, buy this and drink it all summer. And, yes, I mean you, Mom.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Wines of the Tour Stage 14: Majka & A La Tache "Badel" Saint Joseph

Where are we:
Grenoble / Risoul
Le Tour link: http://www.letour.com/le-tour/2014/us/stage-14.html

Our regional trivia:
Some regional specialties from a Grenoble website:
• Three varieties of the AOC Grenoble walnut exist : Franquette, Mayette, and Parisian. Thanks to its dry, aromatic taste, this was the first nut to be certified AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlé; Certified Origins) on June 17, 1938. Around Grenoble, two regions are particularly well suited to walnut growing: the south of the Gresivaudan valley for the Franquette variety and the foot of the Vercors mountains for the Parisian variety.
• Chartreuse: A secret carefully guarded by the Carthusian monks for centuries, its origin goes back to 1605. Its recipe is officially recorded in 1737 and includes more than 130 plants with around 55° of alcohol. It is still aged in the Voiron cellars.There are several versions, from simple green or yellow Chartreuse to the V.E.P. (Exceptionally Long Aged), pure or in cocktails, and let's not forget the Green Chaud: hot chocolate with a splash of green Chartreuse
• Vercors-Sassenage blue: In the land of cheese, the Vercors-Sassenage blue has been labeled Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée since 1997. A product born of authenticity and tradition, it is part of the very exclusive circle of 33 AOC cheeses in France. This makes the Vercors-Sassenage blue, a mild cheese with a semi-soft rind made exclusively from cow milk, one of the standards of French blue-veined cheese.

Our finishing town, Risoul, is a Hautes-Alpes resort.  It partners with neighbour Vars to form the Forêt Blanche ski domain, located between the Queyras and Écrins national parks. It is 1850 meters above sea level.

Le Tour Specialities : the Risoul apple (with a reputation for keeping its flavour over several months), apple juice, milk and cheese products from the Chagne farm, Mali Vignon Pottery

Le Tour preview:  Two legendary peaks, the Lautaret and the Izoard, will spice things up before the summit finish in Risoul, which has already featured in the Tour de l'Avenir and the Critérium du Dauphiné. The idea we had in mind when designing the stage was putting the 19-kilometre Izoard as a springboard for a last hour of racing which will keep us on the edge of our seats... A coalition of attackers, why not? If the 2014 Froome is as strong as the 2013 Froome, we have to give his rivals the chance to look for chinks in his armour. This stage, the second and last one in the Alps, will provide ample opportunity for them to do just that.

The race: Up they go, again. The second climb of the day, the Col d'Izoard, is the highest peak of this year's Tour de France. 
Lots of early action today before tv coverage. 

The complete list of breakaway riders: Geraint Thomas (Sky), Mikel Nieve (Sky), Steven Kruijswijk (Belkin), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo), Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Amaël Moinard (BMC), Alessandro de Marchi (Cannondale), Jose Serpa (Lampre-Merida), Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha), Rafal Majka (Tinoff-Saxo), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Jesus Herrada (Movistar), Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), Rein Taaramae (Cofidis), Christophe Riblon (AG2R-La Mondiale), Albert Timmer (Giant-Shimano). Go Geraint Thomas, go! With 141 kilometers to go, their gap was around 3:40. 
On the road ahead:

So far, the excitement had mainly been the scenery, with lots of gorgeous images. On the road, the gap to the break had grown:

Meanwhile, a rather unusual bathroom break took place:

On the road, Net App came to the front, perhaps working for Konig. With seventy kilometers to go, the gap was down to 2:44. 

Along the road, from Willj at Podium Cafe:
1 kilometre from summit on the side they are climbing is a refuge Napoleon. One of six ordered built by Napoleon in gratitude for the warm welcome he received after escaping from Elba …. not built though until time of Napoleon III in the 1850’s.
- The road was built in the 1890’s by alpine troops and the huge stele/monument at summit is dedicated to the General that oversaw the construction.
- The first few kilometres of the descent are in the famous Casse Déserte. 1 kilometre from summit on descent is the Coppi-Bobet monument.

They had reached the "show the rides dropping" portion on the stage for the main peloton. Ahead, with 45 kilometers to go the breakaway was down to 10 riders. The remaining riders were Geraint Thomas (Sky), Mikel Nieve (Sky), Steven Kruijswijk (Belkin), Amaël Moinard (BMC), Alessandro de Marchi (Cannondale), Jose Serpa (Lampre-Merida), Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha), Rafal Majka (Tinoff-Saxo), Jesus Herrada (Movistar), Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge).
They were soon joined by De Marchi. They had a 2:52 gap. 
Meanwhile, behind, a small group went off the front of the peloton, as Bardet hoped to take time from Pinot, a poor descender. Most of the remaining favorites were together, minus Tejay van Garderen. He was about 30 seconds back, with teammates.

Another abandonment: Dries Devenyns.

It was, (I can't resist), a moment of calm before the storm. And off they went on the final climb. Could the break stay away?

Ahead, De Marchi attacked and was eventually passed by Majka, who was in the lead solo, with the peloton only 35 seconds behind. 

Five kilometers to go and Majka remained in the lead, with about a one minute gap.

At the four kilometer banner, an attack by Nibali. With Nibali, Peraud. Two kilometers to go and the gap to Majka was down to around 30 seconds. But it looked smaller than that. Behing, many attacks, many small groups. Valverde appeared to be dropped. One kilometer to go and Majka had just over thirty seconds.  

Stage: Rafal Majka

Yellow: Vincenzo Nibali

Wine: A La Tache, "Badel"  Saint Joseph 
Selection Massale $35.00

From the importer:
"What a shame such beautiful Syrah is imported by Cabernet Franc drinkers"
These are the (semi-joking) words of Eric Texier, true Syrah lover if there is one, and one of our friends who has a long history growing, and making (and drinking) the famed Rhone grape.

It's not a surprise to us that he likes the wines, he's the one that first introduced us to Kamel, Fabien and the rest of the crew from "La Tache" in Tournon after they had worked his Brezeme vineyard.
Our first offer was on the 2007 "Guillamy" vineyard which was the first wine we tried from the collective of 20 guys working the vineyards, plowing, cutting, rebuilding terraces in most of the northern Rhone for most of the growers that are considered serious.  These are guys who have turned their expertise in managing some of the great terroirs of the Northern Rhone into making wines of their own (Eric Asimov over at the times recently wrote an article on many of the vignerons whose vineyards are managed by La Tache, it's definitely worth a read).
This second one is from the 2009 vintage, from a different parcel between Mauve and Tournon named "Badel", an older vineyard composed of terraced granite with a cool exposure that makes this parcel ripen much slower than "Guillamy".  It's an incredibly hard slope to work that fell into disuse when making hot, ripe wines came into fashion, which is why these guys were able to pick it up. Rarely does that parcel get to 12.5% alcohol (this one is 12%), and even in a warm vintage like 09, it retains freshness, and shows nothing of the characteristics of overripe Syrah we despise so much.  This should easily go for 10 or more years in your cellar.

I say:  Smoky blackberries and minerals, black pepper and firm tannins at the finish. Very balanced. I'm pleased that I have a few more of these to revisit later. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Wines of the Tour Stage 13: Nibali & Dominique Lucas Chasselas

Where are we:
Saint-Étienne / Chamrousse
Le Tour link: http://www.letour.com/le-tour/2014/us/stage-13.html

We start where we finished yesterday.
We end at a ski resort: The Chamrousse  tourist website tells me that: There are several theories concerning the origin of this name, here are the main ones:
According to some people, Chamrousse holds its name from a pre-celtic root : “calm, chalm” meaning “high bare and stony plateau”. In the book written by Henri Vincent, dating back from 1888, “Les 22 années du Père Tasse à Chamrousse”, the researches from Mr Pilot de Thorey are explained: he names among the titles of the Chartreuse de Prémol a donation act from 1260, written in Latin, where you could find the words “culmen rupham”, which would be the exact translation of “Chame-rousse”, with reference to “Chame-Chaude” (“cime chaude”), the highest summit in the Vercors. According to others, the name Chamrousse would originate from the sunsets during which the snow has a wonderful shade.Chamrousse would also mean “le champ roussi” (the red field)

While the resort has already welcomed the Tour for the finish of a time-trial in 2001, it is also often visited by the skiing champions from the Grenoble area. Marion Josserand, bronze medallist at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics in Skicross often trains in Chamrousse. Situated in the Vizille Canton, the common reminds us of a former Tour Polka Dot Jersey winner, Thierry Claveyrolat, also known as the “Vizille Eagle”.

Le Tour preview:  The course profile may suggest otherwise, but this is a real mountain stage which the favourites would be wrong not to take seriously! We packed all the difficulties into the last fifty kilometres, including a climb up the little-known Col de Palaquit towards the final hour of racing. With 14.1 km of fluctuating gradients, this will be anything but a joy ride. More than enough to spark an important selection ahead of the final climb up Chamrousse, an 18.2 km mountain with an average gradient of 7.3%.

The race: The word of the day is climb. As in, up they go. The early morning break consisted of Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Rudy Molard (Cofidis, Solutions Credits), Bartosz Huzarski (NetApp), Brice Feillu (Bretagne), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale), Blel Kadri (AG2R), Kristjan Durasek (Lampre) and Daniel Oss (BMC). There would be many changes but eventually, De Marchi would end up in the lead alone. 

Abandonments so far on the day: Dani Navarro and Arthur Vichot.  In the peloton, a steady stream of riders continued to drop off the back. Among those struggling and yo-yoing back on and off the group: Kwiatkowski. 

Crash for Fuglsang, one of Nibali's key lieutenants of Nibali, on the descent. That looked painful and was possibly caused by a rider's discarded bottle. He would however get up and start riding again. Twenty five kilometers to go and DeMarchi has 3:34 over the peloton. 
Nice fort:

As he started the final climb, De Marchi was losing his lead with Movistar at the front of the peloton. Would he be caught? It looked that way. In that reduced peloton, Nibali was down to one teammate. And there was the catch of De Marchi. Thirteen kilometers to go and the lead group contained: Nieve, Porte, Valverde, Majka, Rogers, Nibali, Kangert, Mollema, Ten Dam, Péraud, Bardet, Costa, Horner, Pinot, Van den Broeck, Van Garderen, Stetina, Rolland, Schleck, Zubeldia and Konig. Trouble for Porte.

Also dropping Rolland, Stetina and Kangert. Ahead, Pinot accelerated. Horner and Rui Coasta were also dropped. Ahead, attacks from Konig, Ten Dam and Majka. As some regrouping occurred, an attack from Valverde, followed by Nibali and Pinot. Lots of small groups on the road. 

Behind, Porte had called for the medical car as he was losing a lot of time. Ahead, an attack by Nibali and he quickly caught Majka and Konig. 

Nice riding by Tejay and Bardet today. At the front of the race, Nibali went off alone. Big gaps were forming behind. At the top of the climb, Nibali took the stage, gaining even more time on his rivals. 

Stage: Vincenzo Nibali

Yellow: Vincenzo Nibali

Wine:  Dominique Lucas "Un Matin Face au Lac" Chasselas 2012
From Selection Massale:  Lucas is on Lake Leman, right across from Switzerland, on a gentle slope facing the lake, in the small village of Marcorens.

Because he is within the Crepy AOC, he wanted to focus on Chasselas, the traditional grape grown there, even though he decided from day one not to be part of the AOC that he thinks produces mostly mediocre wines.

Lucas hails from a family of vignerons based in Burgundy and he went to school to study the family trade, and never had any other projects in life other than making wine. One thing he didn't want to do though, was to work in Burgundy so he found some hectares in Haute-Savoie, on that beautiful slope (although now he makes a few cuvees from his family’s holdings in Burgundy as well).

Being very curious about biodynamics, and vinification in general, he quickly meet one of the very few other serious winemaker in the region Dominique Belluard.
The two start experimenting with different vessels for vinifications, and the both of them fell in love with the results that cement eggs give them. While Belluard manages the balance of freshness and texture in his wine by blending stainless steel and concrete egg vinification, Lucas works mostly with the ovoids, some old wood, and a variety of amphorae.
Today's wine is his Chasselas from a parcel he planted on "Moraine Glaciaire" soil (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moraine) above the lake that gets plenty of cool nights.

Balanced, serious, fresh, complex and very, very limited.  126 bottles for about 3 years of wait (that includes 3 visits) of this rare French Chasselas.

I say: Apparently as the Tour nears Switzerland, I drink Chasselas, even though I apparently can't pronounce it. This one is both complex and fresh, as promised above. It is a bottle that makes me wish I could more easily find Swiss wine, as I think I might like it. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Sunny Day in Beaujolais: Wines of the Tour Stage 12: Kristoff & Maison B Perraud Moulin a Vent

Where are we: Bourg-en-Bresse / Saint-Étienne 
Le Tour link:  http://www.letour.com/le-tour/2014/us/stage-12.html

Bourg-en-Bresse is located at the western base of the Jura mountains, on the left bank of the Reyssouze, a tributary of the Saône. It lies 70 kilometers (43 mi) northeast of Lyon and at 50 kilometers (31 mi) of Lons-le-Saunier.
My town trivia of the day is about chicken: In fact, the only chicken in the world to be protected, like a famous wine, by an Apellation d'Origine Controlée (AOC). "The first recorded mention of the bird was in 1591, when the good citizens of Bourg-en-Bresse, midway between Lyon and Geneva and not far from the Swiss border, presented the Marquis of Treffort with two dozen of the birds in grateful recognition of his bravery in driving off an army of marauding Savoyard soldiers. Its reputation was assured by 1825, when one of the world's first and greatest foodies, the 19th-century epicure and gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, described the bird as "the queen of chickens, and the chicken of kings".
Specialities : Bresse chicken (AOC), Giraudet's quenelles, bleu de Bresse cheese, émaux bressans (jewels)

Saint-Étienne  Michelin tells me that "Often considered to be an industrial city polluted by its coal mining industry, Saint Étienne provides a good example of successful redevelopment with its whitewashed façades, parks and attractive squares. Without turning its back on its past, the city now aims to become an important centre for design. It is keeping alive the tradition of innovation and creation, started in the 19C by the large industrial companies. The most important of which was the Manufacture des Armes (arms factory)."
Specialities : Weiss chocolates, Franck Deville macaroons

Le Tour preview: A second transition stage which will come down to a tug-of-war between breakaway specialists and the sprinters. It is worth noting that, although this Tour de France will have lots of short, bumpy stages, it has also got something for the green jersey contenders. They will have at least eight opportunities to duke it out, including this stage from Bourg-en-Bresse to the Beaujolais hills in Saint-Étienne. Who will triumph in the old capital of cycling? Looking back on last year's Tour, Kittel has the edge, but I and others think Cavendish can still go very fast. He raced too much in 2013, but he has been smart enough not to repeat the same mistake this season.

The race: As I mentined earlier, those Tour preview posts are written months before the race, but I keep them here to provide a sense of what they had in mind. Taking into account what has happened in the race so far (We miss you Cav) the question of the day is whether or not Sagan can win the stage or not. He has had a great race by many standards, but has yet to win a stage.

Not starting today: Andrew Talansky. They are off and in a hurry before tv coverage starts, covering 45.9km in the first hour! Our break of the day Sebastian Langeveld, Gregory Rast, Simon Clarke, Florian Vachon  and David de la Cruz. With 125 kilometers to go of 185.5 today, they had a gap of 3:55. 
On a stage like today, the Podium Cafe talk has turned to natural science, inspired by the Tour's Biodiversity of the Day, the fire salamander. In other news, Beaujolais looked gorgeous on this very sunny day. 

Crash in the breakaway and de la Cruz went down very hard. Langeveld went down as well, but was soon back up racing as de la Cruz remained on the ground. Indeed, he would abandon the race. 

Not only is it sunny, but it is apparently very warm on the road today as there are reports of melting tarmac. 

Seventy five kilometers to go and the gap was just over three minutes and dropping. It looked clearly that they would be caught, but they would continue to ride hard.

And then there were two: dropped from the break, Vachon and Rast. 
Field art:

Ahead, word of a road melt. Off the front of the peloton, two EuropCar riders,
Gautier and Quemeneur. Ahead an attack by Simon Clarke. Along the road, more tractor art. With 22.5 kilometers to go, Clarke had 19" on Gautier and Quemeneur and 1'13" on the peloton. Soon, they joined together and there were three leading the race. Under ten kilometers to go and a surprising number of the sprinters were still in the main group. With just under eight kilometers to go Clarke and Gautier were still  ahead with a 15” gap. Five kilometers to go and they were back all together.

Crash including Chavanel and Greipel. Greipel was angry and yelled at Chava as they were back up and riding.
Ahead, time for a sprint and there was Tony Martin again at the front.Lots of dodgy moves, but in the end it was Kristoff. Sagan comes second, just missing out again.

Stage: Alexander Kristoff 

Yellow: Vincenzo Nibali

Wine: Maison B Perraud   
Moulin a Vent 2012  

From Frankly Wines 

From the producer (With some help from Google translate):

The Estate "The Hills of Molière" Huadu at Vauxrenard, lays on a surface area of 8.5 hectares and has 3 callings:
- Beaujolais
- Beaujolais Village
- Windmill

10 years ago, we gave up a portion of the weed-kiling in order to give life back to the earth and the undergrounds of our vines, to bring back to Each parcel of land Its characteristic taste from the earth. A vine in harmony with its environment will produce a grape flavored more and more full Which would bring back the meaning of its "millesime". We promote in this way in the dissemination and the working of the ground. The products we use to fight against the vine Illnesses are Agreed by the biological culture.

We-have committed a conversion: 6 hectares are certified biological since 2002, and the rest of the operation is in a way of retraining. The biological culture, It's above all a state of mind, a philosophy. It's a calling into question have Each moment. Our wine Gives us more and more proof Each year a wine with character leaving to express the earth and soul icts in wine making procedure. Consummating "Bio" today, is taking part, a little, in the protection of our environment. "The matter is nothing, what counts is the gesture that made" ... (Goethe)

I say: Oh Beaujolais my friend, so glad you could be a Tour wine this year. In this case with a new producer to me. 
Beaujolais is gamay and this is a lovely version. Fruit and earth. Very easy to drink, but not light. It would pair nicely with a roasted Bresse chicken (see above).