Friday, July 22, 2011

Tour de France Stage 19 Alpe d'Huez

Well, now. That was not a day to sleep through the alarm. Luckily, Oolong is very reliable. She bites my feet every morning around 4:30.

General Classification
  1. Andy Schleck
  2. Fränk Schleck :53
  3. Cadel Evans  :57
  4. Thomas Voeckler  2:10
  5. Damiano Cunego  3:31
  6. Alberto Contador  3:55
  7. Samuel Sánchez  4:22
  8. Ivan Basso 4:40
  9. Tom Danielson  7:11
  10. Pierre Rolland 8:57
The stage started very quickly with an early attack from Alberto Contador, followed by Andy Schleck, on the first climb of the day - the Col du Télégraphe. It looked like this might be the end of the yellow jersey hopes for Cadel Evan,s as he was clearly struggling, and eventually needed a bike change. 

However, after another fine piece of riding by Evans and a few teammates, the main contenders were back together at the base of the storied Alpe. Contador went on the attack again on the steep early slopes.  This looked like a winning move, but Pierre Rolland had other plans. Rolland, who has been a super domestique all tour for Thomas Voeckler chased back on, joined by Samuel Sanchez. Rolland then surged forward with a late attack that earned him the stage victory. Sánchez finished second and secured the mountains polka-dot jersey, with Contador finishing third.  

Behind the trio was a fierce battle for yellow. Thomas Voeckler, who clearly struggled all day, was dropped, showing his displeasure with a water bottle toss.  Meanwhile, Cadel Evans tried several times to shake the Schleck brothers, but was unable to gain any time. Andy Schleck now leads the general classification, his brother Fränk is second at :53, and Cadel Evans is in third just  :57 seconds back. This sets up tomorrow's time trial as one of the most exciting in years. Evans is clearly a better time trialist than either Schleck, but can he make up enough time to take yellow?

Wine: More Savoie, the Château de Ripaille Chasselas 

From the importer, a history worth reading:
There was a Roman villa with vines on the grounds from the first to the fourth centuries. Bonne de Bourbon built a hunting lodge here at the end of the 14th century. The area surrounding the Château de Ripaille was used as the hunting grounds for the Comtes de Savoie and eventually became their preferred place of residence. In 1434, Amédée VIII, the first Duc de Savoie who later became the last antipope in the history of the Catholic Church and reigned as Felix V from 1439 to 1449, built the château. It originally had seven towers, of which four still exist. At the end of the 15th century the property was occupied by invading Swiss, and records show that they sent wine in barrel back to Berne.
The château became the center of the brilliant culture of the Savoie. After the wars of the reformation,  Ripaille became for two centuries a Carthusian monastery, protected from the world by its formidable walls. After the French Revolution, the estate was sold to Général Dupas of Evian who retired there after the Napoleonic wars. In 1892, the site, in ruin, was restored and rehabilitated by Frédéric Engel-Gros of Mulhouse. With the help of noted architect Charles Schule and ten years of painstaking work, the château was restored to the condition in which it is found today. The château itself, once standing in ruin, was renovated in a style of a remarkable combination of Medieval and Art Nouveau. Their descendents, the Necker-Engel family, still own the Château de Ripaille. 
In 1976, Madame Harold Necker, with government assistance, created the Ripaille foundation to conserve and maintain its legacy. Ripaille was designated in 1994 by the National Culinary Arts Council as one of the 100 sites remarquables du goût in France.

The château is surrounded by 21 hectares (52 acres) of vines, which produce about 160,000 bottles of wine a year. The vineyards are on fairly flat ground, which gently slopes toward the lake. The soil is stony, with sun-baked glacial deposits, mostly limestone. All the vines on the property are of the Chasselas variety. Chasselas is the oldest known grape variety, originally coming from Egypt where records indicate its presence 5,000 years ago. Harvest is done manually at the château, and the wine is aged in stainless-steel. All the wine goes through malolactic fermentation. The resultant wine is pale in color with an intriguing nose that combines creamy mineral notes with a touch of quinine. The wine is medium-bodied, with additional hints of lime, almond and dried peach.

I say: Again from Greg Borden at Cheese Plus. I'm going to miss the Savoie. At $11.99 this is another bargain, though yesterday's wine was more to my taste. Round and creamy with enough mineral to keep it interesting.

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