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:

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. 

No comments:

Post a Comment