Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wines of the Tour Stage 18: Nibali Dominates & Atxa Vermouth Blanco

Where are we:
Pau / Hautacam
Le Tour link:

In Pau, how about a visit to the birthplace of a king? More info from the local tourist website:
The national museum of the Castle of Pau: This superb royal residence is above all the birthplace of Henry IV, King of France and Navarre.
The building perpetuates the homage and legend of the first king of the Bourbon dynasty.The architectural set of buildings has undergone three major restorations: The first took place in the Middle Ages, the second at the Renaissance and the third in the middle of the 19th century.
It has been classified as a National Museum and provides visitors with nearly 800 years of history allowing them to enjoy an elaborate set of decorations including one of the most beautiful collections of tapestries in Europe.
The recent restorations carried out both inside and outside have given the building an outstanding lustre.
The castle and its surrounding parks and gardens are situated on the outskirts of the old market town, near to the oldest golf course on the European mainland.
Specialities : wines from Jurançon and Madiran, foie gras, garbure (thick French soup or stew), béarnaise sauce, poule au pot (chicken in a pot)

Lots of info on Hautacam and the climb here from Inrng:"Hautacam is the name a nearby mountain peak which in turn was appropriated by a local tourist office to give to the modest ski resort. It’s as if Zermatt decided to call itself Matterhorn or Chamonix and Courmayeur were named Mont Blanc and Monte Bianco. Only the Hautacam ski resort started out as a car park and little else and today it’s not much more either. But the Tour de France is able to put the place on the map, indeed taking the name of a nearby peak is only the start, the Tour has labelled the finish Lourdes-Hautacam despite Lourdes being almost 30km away."
Specialities : garbure bigourdane (French soup/stew), gâteau à la broche (cake on a spit), porc noir de Bigorre (Bigorre black pork)

Le Tour preview: At 145.5 km, this stage is also quite short. Compared with the previous one, riders will probably see it as an opportunity to catch their breath. True, the elimination time will be more generous. Yet they would do well not to underestimate the stage. First of all, they will have to climb the Col du Tourmalet, always a challenge. Next up, the final climb up Hautacam, which has earned a hallowed place in the history of the Tour. We hope the Tourmalet is used as a launch pad for attacks and does not go to waste. If so, pretenders to a podium spot or even the overall win could use it to claw back some time.

The race: Once again our early break has some interesting names: Mikel Nieve (Sky), Jesus Herrada and Jon Izaguirre (Movistar), Yuriy Trofimov (Katusha), Alessandro De Marchi and Marco Marcato (Cannondale), Lars Boom (Belkin), Jan Bakelants (OPQS), Blel Kadri (AG2R), Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ), Daniel Oss (BMC), Bryan Coquard, Kévin Reza and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Julien Simon (Cofidis), Sylvain Chavanel and Marcel Wyss (IAM), Bartosz Huzarski and Tiago Machado (NetApp) and Florian Guillou (Bretagne). Chava lives! With one hundred kilometers to go, their gap was 3:25. 
Field art, now with a cow costume:

And then it was time for the Tourmalet. At the front of the race: Chava attcked! (Finally.) Sadly, he was caught and passed by Nieve and Kadri, who would remain out front together at the top of the climb. 

And then an attack from Valverde on the descent. 

He was not, however, gaining very much time. Eventually, they were caught. With 22.5 kilometers to go Nieve and Kadri still had a gap of 2'45". 

Early on the climb, Nieve dropped Kadri. I was still betting on the gc group catching the riders ahead. Behind an attack by Chris Horner. Nibali followed! 

And then Nibali dropped him and very quickly caught Nieve and flew by him. Behind, Majka attacked. If Nibali wins the stage, Majka needs to finish sixth to keep the polka dot jersey. Lots of additional attacks behind. 
Stupid fan alert:

Dropped behind: Valverde. Still solo in the lead: Nibali. With Valverde fading, the race for the second and third spots on the podium has created much of the drama on the day. 

Stage: Vincenzo Nibali

Yellow: Vincenzo Nibali

Wine: Atxa Vermouth Blanco
From Frankly Wines
From the importer, T Edwards :
Founded in 1831, Destilerías Acha has been at the forefront of distillation in the Basque Country for years. The distillery is located in Amurrio, 50 km from the Cantabrian Sea. Today, Gabriel Acha maintains the traditions and recipes passed down by his ancestors for the distillation and creation of liqueurs and spirits with all natural ingredients. The distillery is famous for many products including the traditional Basque after-dinner drink known as Pacharán.

Vino Vermouth is another traditional recipe the Acha family is keeping alive. Vermouth is a fortified and aromatized wine that is macerated with a selection of herbs, fruits and roots. The word “vermouth” comes from the German word for “wormwood”, which was originally one of its primary infused ingredients.

I say: For years I never gave vermouth much thought. But then I became slightly obsessed with making a very good Manhattan at home. So I experimented a bit and discovered that I liked vermouth over ice. For the record, Carpano is my Manhattan vermouth of choice.
This to me is a sipping vermouth. Yum. Floral and spicy and just lovely over ice. I'll buy more of this.

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