From LeTour: Jean François Pescheux's view
A strange situation: "On this kind of stage where there is no obvious difficulty, the likelihood is that Sagan, Cavendish or Greipel will be wearing the green jersey and wanting to consolidate their grip on it at the finish... However, I've done some sums and realised it is not out of the question that a man like Contador might spend several days in green! He will score points in Corsica, in the Pyrenees and in the time trial. On those occasions, the top sprinters, save for perhaps Sagan, will be right at the back. In other words, we could see quite a strange situation that could spice up the race. It would be like a race within a race, confirming the unexpected is always possible on the Tour."
Well, so much for Pescheux's guesses for the day. Remember though, that they were written months back
Cav is certainly having a hard week. I find myself wondering, after getting caught yesterday, if he is still not 100% after his bronchitis. Who knows? I'm picking the sprinters again today in the Podium Cafe Stage Predictor game: Cav, Sagan, Greipel and Kittel.
A couple of lovely and sentimental thoughts from twitter:
Wine: 2011 Domaine de la Folie “Petite Fugue”
Producer website: http://www.les-loges-de-la-folie.com/inenglish/
From Selection Massale: The most important bottle of wine I've ever had in my life was a Pineau d'Aunis, this strange, rustic, nearly extinct red grape from the Loire valley. It was made by a man named Eric Nicolas at Domaine de Belliviere, in the North of the valley. I drank the bottle by myself with a penne all'arriabiata. I drank the whole thing, my eyes widening more and more after each sip. It was good. It was brilliant. It was potential, the potential of what wine could be, so much more than the simple pallet of most modern wines. it was also potential, the potential of how little I knew about wine, about how much there was to understand, about how much was out there to be drank. My mind bended, snapped and fell back into a different place. I was smitten, it was never going to be the same.
A few years later, tasting with a potential supplier for the second time, a vigneronne named Valérye Mordelet said something to me that I could have missed. We were drinking mostly Montlouis, which is the bulk of their production. She had started to make wine in the Loire because of a single grape, a small unknown grape cultivated by a few people that she fell in love with. In 2010 she finally found a small plot of it and was able to make her dream wine.
I waited a second to respond, my mind racing to put together my thoughts in French about how to explain to her that I wouldn't be standing there if it wasn't for that grape. Same as her. I probably didn't say it right, but my mixture of French, English, speaking in tongues, and pure enthusiasm got my message across. She got up smiled, left the Montlouis on the table went in to another room for a moment and returned, laden with bottles of Petite Fugue, her baby. We sat there and drank deeply and talked about the various Pineau d'Aunis' of the Loire, from the more polished Belliviere to the raw, rustic style of Puzelat and Emile Heredia to the words-cannot-describe beauty of Clos Roche Blanche. I had found a kindred spirit, and I found a wine I had been searching for. I left with a trunk full of bottles.
Valérye is a vigneronne who lets the grapes dictate the vinification. In 2010 the Petite Fugue was made almost like a rose, light, with alcohol coming in at a mere 11%. It is almost entirely textureless, and really does drink like rose. The 2011 is still light, but vinified like a traditional red wine (and more traditional for this grape), and it is absolutely beautiful (Frantz Saumon called it one of the best examples he's ever had of the grape). Both wines have the unmistakeable characteristics of Pineau d'Aunis that make it a wholly unique wine, that rusticity, that strong sense of soil and minerality.
I say: Another Loire red today. This time, the more obscure Pineau d'Aunis. Trivia: A favorite of Henry Plantagenet, the English king had Pineau d'Aunis wine first brought to England in 1246. F
ar from my first go-round with this wine and it is one that I always have to either have with company or consciously tell myself that I should stop pouring more glasses for myself. Pretty much the definition of gulpable. Bright, with back pepper, floral, tannins.