Friday, July 18, 2014

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

Where are we:
Saint-Étienne / Chamrousse
Le Tour link:

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 ( 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. 

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