Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Wines of the Tour de France Stage 16: Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape 1995 & Costa


168km Vaison-la-Romaine to Gap

From LeTour: Jean François Pescheux's view

Testing terrain:  "Never will a rest day have been as well deserved! After the Ventoux, the riders will be able to breathe a little easier for 24 hours in the Vaucluse. It is a short respite, as another series of difficulties await them. This stage, for example: it's only 168km, but this is testing terrain where the Tour has almost been lost in the past. You just have to look at the list of winners in Gap: Vinokourov, Fédrigo, Paulinho, Hushovd? I can also remember an attack made by Contador that messed up the strategy of the Schleck brothers? In short, this is a stage that will favour attacking riders. Some of them may get the opportunity to push themselves back into contention before the time trial..."

Is the race for yellow over? Froome looked very dominant after his win on Mont Ventoux. But behind, they are very closely bunched with less than 40 seconds from Bauke Mollema in second to Laurens Tens Dam in fourth with Alberto Cotador and Roman Kreuziger in between. Plus, the Alps are looming. I'm expecting a very exciting last week.

Short and lumpy after the rest day. My thoughts turn to the classics riders.The classics are the one day races that take place mainly in the spring and include some of my favorite races like Paris-Roubaix and The Tour of Flanders. These races often involve early wake-up times and online Eurosport streams, plus mud and cobbles and cold for the riders. If you have not read it yet, read this story on Taylor Phinney's ride during one of the pre-classics races. Really. Read it. It is one of the best things I have read on cycling or sports in general this year.
That said, Taylor is not here, as he rode the Giro again this year. I also wish Thor Hushovd or Tom Boonen were here at the Tour. But there are plenty of classics guys in the race and my Podium Cafe Stage Predictor picks of the day reflect that: Sagan, Gilbert, Valverde and Chavanel.  

Pre-video, we have a very large break including of Sagan, Voigt, Hansen, Velits  Navardauskas De Gendt and many more, joined later by Martin and Valverde. Most of that group was caught and with 144 kilometers remaining, Hansen and Kloeden attacked. This early in the stage, there is lots of fighting to get in the break that will stick. 
After 38 km, we have 23 riders in the lead, with a 2:35 lead over the field. It looks like this is the break that will stick. They are: Hansen (LTB), Gilbert and Quinziato (BMC), Gallopin (RTL), Gautier and Voeckler (EUC), Kadri and Riblon (ALM), Roche (TST), Trofimov (KAT), Astarloza (EUS), Costa (MOV), Coppel and Navarro (COF), Mori (LAM), Velits (OPQ), Navardauskas (GRS), Albasini and Meyer (OGE), Dumoulin (ARG), De Gendt and Hoogerland (VCD) and Marino (SOJ).
43 km into the stage and LeTour now lists the group as Hansen (LTB), Gilbert and Quinziato (BMC), Didier, Gallopin and Kloden (RTL), Gautier and Voeckler (EUC), Kadri and Riblon (ALM), Roche (TST), Trofimov (KAT), Astarloza (EUS), Jeannesson (FDJ), Costa (MOV), Coppel and Navarro (COF), Mori (LAM), Velits (OPQ), Navardauskas (GRS), Albasini and Meyer (OGE), Dumoulin (ARG), De Gendt and Hoogerland (VCD) and Marino (SOJ) with a gap of around 5 minutes. Quite a few usual suspects in the break today. With 90 kilometers to go, their gap was up above 7 minutes. 

70 kilometers to go and the gap was at 7:45. Train crossing and the main peloton has to stop. 
opqscyclingteam 6:46am via TweetDeck
#TDF: Peloton was stopped by a train but there was no consequence to the gap timing according to @letour . 65km to go, 8'14" gap.

57 km to go and the gap is over 9 minutes. It is looking very much like someone from this group will take the win. I'm hoping for either my Stage Predictor pick Gilbert or the entertaining on twitter Adam Hansen. 35 km to go and Marino and Kadri attack from the break. They quickly gain about 25 seconds. But there is still a climb to come: Col de Manse (1 268 m) 9.5 kilometer-long climb at 5.2% - category 2. Here comes an attack from Hansen on the climb. It will likely be almost constant attacking from here on out. Alas, Hansen falls off the back of the group. 17 km to go and Rui Costa is in the lead with Coppel chasing  and Roche and Jeannesson next on the road. 
Attacks are also starting behind. 
inrng 7:56am via Web
Meanwhile back down the road Katusha try a move out of the bunch, setting up Rodriguez to take time on the others

That group behind shrinks very quickly. Contador attacks, but gets caught quickly. After the many splits, the yellow jersey group is only Quintana, Rogers, Porte, Froome, Contador, Mollema, J. Rodriguez and Valverde. Contador goes again! Porte chases him down. More attacks. Porte barely holding on now. he drops, but then makes it back to the group.
Ahead, Costa has at 2 km to go has 45 seconds over the closest chasers. Not enough cameras for a day like today with so many small groups on the road. It is Rui Costa! With plenty of time to celebrate and zip up his jersey for the pictures.  
Behind, the yellow jersey group is descending. Contador and Froome almost off the road, but they are back riding. Great riding in support by Richie Porte today. They catch the group ahead. It looks like Tens Dam is the big loser today.

Stage: Rui Costa

2Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:00:42 
3Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ.fr  
4Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
5Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack Leopard  
6Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano0:01:00 
7Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi0:01:01 
8Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:01:04 
9Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
10Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp  

Yellow: Chris Froome
2 Mollema +4'14
3 Contador +4'25
4 Kreuziger +4'28
5 Quintana +5'47
6 Ten Dam +5'54
7 Rodriguez +7'11
8 Fuglsang +7'22

Wine: Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape 1995

From the importer: Among the prominent people in the town of Courthezon during the sixteenth century was the Beaucastel family. In 1549, “Noble Pierre de Beaucastel” bought “a barn with its land holdings, containing 25 saumées at Coudoulet”. More than four centuries later, this remarkable domaine, known today at Château de Beaucastel, is producing what most people acknowledge to be the finest wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In 1903, a young chemical engineer and mathematics professor named Pierre Perrin, together with his father-in-law, began to restore the domaine following the ravages of phylloxera. His son, Jacques Perrin, took over the domaine in 1953 and introduced many innovations such as improved grape varietals, integrated pest control, and a flash-heat exchanger. Today, the third and fourth generations of Perrins, François and Jean-Pierre and Jean-Pierre’s sons Pierre, Marc and Thomas, continue in the tradition of their father and grandfather.

The vineyards of Beaucastel are treated as a garden: no chemical fertilizer, no chemical week killers or sprays are permitted. Organic fertilizer comes from compost and only a minimum of traditional sulphur-copper spray is used in the vineyards. The vineyard is planted in all the traditional grapes of Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Cinsault, Vaccarese, Counoise, Terret Noir, Muscardin, Clairette, Picpoul, Picardin, Bourboulenc, and Roussanne.

From the producer:

Description : Château de Beaucastel has long been considered one of the great wines of France. It is unanimously renowned for its balance, elegance and ageing potential. Beaucastel has an extraordinary terroir at the Northern end of the appellation with heavy exposure to the Mistral. All 13 varieties of the appellation have been organically grown here since the sixties.
Situation : Châteauneuf du Pape, between Orange and Avignon, Château de Beaucastel red is a 70-hectare vineyard.
The vintage : An exceptional vintage. A very hot and dry summer, with good weather conditions until the end of the harvest
Terroir :Château de Beaucastel is 110 hectares, with one single plot at the north of the appellation. The terroir is archetypal of the best terroirs in Châteauneuf: rolled pebbles on the surface, sand, clay and limestone deeper down. The vines are old and have been organically grown for 50 years, which has allowed the roots to grow exceptionally deep.
Beaucastel grows all thirteen grape varieties authorised by the appellation.
Process :Each variety is harvested manually separately. Vinification is completed in truncated oak barrels for the reductive grapes (Mourvèdre and Syrah) and in traditional tiled cement tanks for the oxidative grapes (such as Grenache). After the malolactic fermentations, the Perrin family blends the different varieties and then the wine ages in oak Foudres for a year before being bottled.
Cépages :Cinsault : 5%, Counoise : 10%, Grenache noir : 30%, Mourvèdre : 30%, Syrah : 10%, Vaccarèse, Terret Noir, Muscardin, Clairette, Picpoul, Picardan, Bourboulenc, Roussanne : 15%

I say : Many years ago my then husband and I visited Beaucastel. We toured the vineyards and cellars and tasted wine. After the tour, we bought a case of the current release, the 1995 Châteauneuf-du-Pape. I asked, "When should I drink this?" and was told, without any hesitation, "When you retire."  So the case of wine has moved with me more than 5 times, hand carried each time. I've opened a few bottles over the years to check in and each time have thought that it was far too young. But why not try again for the Tour?  

The verdict: Good friends to share with and a steak to pair. Smoother than I had expected. Herbal notes with balsamic cherry, olive and resolved tannins. Some nice acidity as well. Clearly this will go for a while longer, but it is in a very enjoyable spot right now. 13.5%. 

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