Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wines of the Tour Stage 17: Majka Winks & La Ferme du Vert l'AmouReuse

Where are we:
Saint-Gaudens / Saint-Lary Pla d'Adet 
Le Tour link:

Saint-Gaudens: The local tourist website tells me that  Saint-Gaudens is an administrative centre (sous-préfecture) for the south of the Haute-Garonne département, at an altitude of 405m on a ledge overlooking the Valley of the Garonne. It faces the Pyrenees and is a natural crossroads for routes between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean and between Toulouse and the Val d'Aran in Spain.
It has been inhabited since ancient times (traces of the Iron Age and of Roman occupation) and was originally called Mas-Saint-Pierre, before taking the name of the young shepherd, Gaudens, martyred by the Visigoths at the end of the 5th Century for refusing to renounce his faith: a dramatic tale!

The town later developed around the 11th Century Romanesque church. It was granted its city charter in 1202 and became the capital of the Nébouzan area, protected by solid ramparts. As an important regional marketplace, Saint-Gaudens became the economic capital of the Comminges.

The town was damaged by Protestant forces under Montgomery in 1569, and became the seat of the Nébouzan Assembly after coming under the control of the French crown in 1607. The name was changed briefly to "Mont-Unité" during the Revolution and the area later became part of the Haute-Garonne départment.

No Tour specialties 

Our finishing town is  Saint-Lary. The local tourist website suggests that one coud visit the Pyrenees National Park: Created in 1968, the Pyrenees National Park covers 45,700 hectares stretching along the Aspe Valley, as far as the Aure Valley. With the adjoining Néouvielle Nature Reserve (2,300 hectares), it provides a veritable sanctuary for the Pyrenean flora and fauna.
For more than 25 years, the Pyrenean National Park has protected 46,000 hectares of land, and a further 15,000 hectares in the Ordesa National Park in Spain.
You'll find a rich assortment of flora including over 400 species, such as the Pyrenean violet, fritillary, saxifrage, Pyrenean lily... and some remarkable fauna. If you look up in the sky you'll see the Bearded Vulture, the Royal Eagle or the Egyptian vulture, and closer to the ground, marmots and izards and, if you're lucky, you'll get to follow the tracks of the grizzly bear (sadly a dying species).

Specialities : Bigorre black pork, garbure (thick French soup or stew with ham), soupe de sarrous (spinach soup), gâteau à la broche (cake cooked on a spit)
Le Tour preview: At 125 km, the shortest stage comes just after the longest. To be honest, it will be a hectic 125 kilometres, since it is all up and down from kilometre 50 all the way until the summit finish on Plat d'Adet. Even the leaders will find this a tricky stage. And the riders in the autobus... For them, it will be a stage of trials and tribulations, with a tight elimination time which will force sprinters to spend the entire stage à bloc. Several green jersey contenders could end up having to pack their suitcases after this stage! The final podium will start to take shape. Without a doubt, the highlight of the race.

The race: The shortest stage of the race is also the Queen stage (the day with the highest point in the race). They are also riding into Spain. Not starting today, Simon Gerrans and Reto Hollenstein. 
Our break of the day contains some familiar names: Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Tom Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp), Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling), Yukio Arashiro (Europcar), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Biel Kadri (AG2R-La Mondiale), Jens! Voigt (Trek Factory Racing) and Sergio Paulinho (TInkoff-Saxo). Chasing behind: Katusha. Abandoning: Spilak.

As soon as they started to go up, the peloton got very small, very quickly as riders both launched off the front and fell off the back. I say once again: grupetto cam would be a wonderful addition to Tour coverage. Meanwhile, up front we had: Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo), Bauke Mollema (Belkin), Joaquim Rodríguez (Katusha), Kristijan Durasek (Lampre Merdia) and Alessandro de Marchi. Behind them, with 68 kilometers to go, 18 chasers at 27" and the first peloton at 50". Points to J-Rod as he continued his quest for the polka dot jersey. 

Some regrouping out front and the lead group was twenty two strong:
Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lott-Belisol), Frank Schleck (Trek Factory Racing), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Peter Velits (BMC), Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Jon Izagirre (Movistar), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Amaël Moinard (BMC), Yukio Arashiro (Europcar), Jesus Herrada (Movistar), Vasil Kiryienka (Sky), Biel Kadri (AG2R-La Mondiale), Rein Taaramae (Cofidis), Bauke Mollema (Belkin), Nicolas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo), Joaqium Rodríguez (Katusha), Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida), David Lopez (Sky) and Alessandro de Marchi (Cannondale). And then an attack by Kiriyenka, who was soon in the lead, solo. 

Thirty kilometers to go and the first and second chase groups came back together. Kiriyienka was still solo out front. 

With 23.3 kilometers to go, Kiryienka’s advantage was 18” to the 13 rider chase group and  3’46” to the peloton. Soon though, Kiriyienka was caught. 

With around six kilometers to go: Visconti was ahead of Rolland, Moinard, Roche,and  Majka by 33”. Bardet was 1’52” back. Yellow jersey group was at 2’05”. The big news though: Valverde seemed to crack! There were only nine men left in the yellow jersey group, including, Bardet, Peraud, Pinot, Valverde and Van Garderen. There went Nibali, with Peraud following. Ahead, Majka caught Visconti. They rode together for a while, before Majka dropped him. Majka was clearly feeling well, as he winked, again, at the camera. 

Behind, Valverde, with the help from teammates, actually gained time over Pinot and van Garderen. 

Stage: Rafal Majka

Yellow: Vincenzo Nibali 


Wine: La Ferme du Vert l'AmouReuse
From Frankly Wines $21.99

From the producer :
Le Vert is a farmhouse in an idyllic setting on the edge of the Grésigny forest and is part of the "Tour of Country Houses".
The Galaup family is there to welcome you, to share their love of quality food and wine and to offer you a taste of the local produce. The wine and veal produced on the farm are well-known for their excellent flavour.
I own 5 hectares of vines and take care to produce quality wine. I tend the vines in the way that is traditional in the Gaillac vineyards in the “department” of Tarn in France.

The preparation and vinification are also done in the traditional way.
The grapes are harvested by hand between September and December.  During this period the grapes are picked after over-ripening.
The crushing is monitored manually and after extracting the juice fermentation is done at low temperatures.  Every stage ensures that the wine is a genuine wine of this area.
All these stages produce wines of which The authenticity is preserved.

I say: First off, my daughter would like to send a big thank you to Christy at Frankly Wines for finding good options from the Pyrenees this year. She still complains about the year we went to five wine stores in search of options.

Mauzac is a white grape. It is mainly grown in the Gaillac and Limoux regions in southwest  France.Mauzac buds and ripens late, and was traditionally picked quite late, when temperatures had dropped in Limoux. This allowed for slow fermentation which preserved residual sugar for a "natural" second fermentation in the spring, creating a sparkling wine.
Sweet, but very balanced.  Rather delicious. Even the French visitor enjoyed it. 

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