Sunday, July 6, 2014

Wines of the Tour Stage 2: Nibali and Old Raj Gin

Where are we: Riding 210 kilometers from York to Sheffield.
Our start town: York was founded by the Romans as Eboracum in 71 AD. It later became the capital of the Roman province of Britannia Inferior, and even later of the kingdoms of Northumbria and Jorvik. In the Middle Ages, York was known as a major wool trading centre and became the capital of the northern ecclesiastical province of the Church of England. Highly recommended: the timelines hereSpecialities from le Tour: THE UK town for chocolate

Our finishing town: From  Sheffield, situated at the point where the River Sheaf meets the River Don is mostly a product of the Victorian age but the surrounding area was important in ancient times.
Sheffield Castle was for many centuries a home to the Earls of Shrewsbury until 1516 when one of the earls built himself a manor house (Sheffield Manor), which has, like the castle, now gone.
Both the castle and the manor, (but mainly the castle) were for fourteen years a place of imprisonent for Mary, Queen of Scots, who was locked up here by Queen Elizabeth I.
Specialities: Henderson's Relish (spicy sauce), Liquorice Allsorts (assortment of liquorice sweets)

Stage preview from Le Tour: The course of this awesome stage looks like a carbon copy of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. This is not your run-of-the-mill start to the Tour, but it is set to be thrilling because the overall favourites will have to avoid being caught napping. I think they will all be in the mix, especially Froome, Contador, Nibali and Valverde. On this terrain, I would rather put my money on them than on Sagan, as the climbs may well be a bit too tough for his taste. All this is to stay that we should expect to see one hell of a fight during the Yorkshire chapter, at least if the best riders are willing to light the fireworks...

The race: First: Oh, Cav. I think the word gutted works well here. Even this video "interview" with Geraint Thomas and Bernie Eisel is not cheering me up.
Maybe a pretty picture?

No. Not so much. Alas. Meanwhile, off they go and it looks like another day of amazing crowds. Plus, a very interesting route. I'm grateful to NBCSN for showing full stages yesterday and today, though the 3 am wake up is a bit rough. Our break of the day consists of Matthew Busche, Blel Kadri, Perrig Quemeneur, David De La Cruz Melgarejo, Armindo Fonseca, Cyril Lemoine, and Bart De Clerc. Their gap hovered mainly between two and three minutes for a long time, as behind there were many small crashes. At the intermediate sprint point Bryan Coquard  takes the maximum points from the bunch. 

The crowds continue to be out in force, but perhaps need more lessons in staying off of the roads:
It is hard not to be amused by the French decision to add Cote to the names of the climbs See: Cote de Oxenhope Moor. Also: Côte du Blubberhouses. 
Feed zone ahead. In case you have wondered what the riders eat on the road:
85 kilometers to go and the gap was down to 1:35. The peloton seemed to have decided that it was time to wake up. And Jens! appeared to be losing his polka dot jersey as atop Greetland Hill, Lemoine scored two more points for the KOM competition, giving him the virtual lead. 
And suddenly action: Porte dropped, the break was caught with 57 kilometers to go and Kittel and others were dropped from the group. At the front of the group: Kadri and Voeckler. Porte, with some help from Pate and Eisel and some blocking from his teammates in front, made it back. Meanwhile, Kittel flatted.

Kadri reached the top first, followed by Edet and Voeckler. Over the top, Kadri had just over a minute on the peloton, and over three minutes on Kittel. Quickly joining the chasers were Tony Martin and Marcus Burghardt. At the front of the peloton: Cannondale. 36 kilometers to go and all of the racers out front were caught. Shrinking peloton time, with maybe 25 riders left, already. Would this end up a gc battle day after all?

25 kilometers to go and all of the main gc contenders were still there. Lots of hard work from Geraint Thomas at the front of the peloton. Hey, Rolland attacked for KOM points. Shock level very low. 

11 kilometers to go and his gap was around 10 seconds. Nine kilometers to go and the lead group was back together again. And then they hit the "Cote" de Jenkin Road and there were the GC boys, plus Sagan and a few more. Wow did this stage suddenly get fun. Nibali attacked and the chasers hesistated! And he stayed away, although it looked like he could not possibly go slower by the line. Oh, that is a happy thing.

 Stage:Vincenzo Nibali

Wine: Cadenhead's Old Raj Gin
From Frankly Wines

Christy says: Old Raj has been around forever and is held in regard as one of the premier gins in the world.  The addition of saffron at the last stage of distillation adds a subtle yellow tone and lovely floral notes to the finish. This is the Rolls Royce of gin.

"This is the lower-proof version of the classic Old Raj. Lovely, complex gin bouquet offers aromas of coriander, juniper, anise, orris root, ground pepper, lemon peel, lead pencil, earth and tree bark. Palate entry is creamy, fruity, spicy and minty; midpalate offers layers of botanical complexity over the core juniper taste. Finishes with a wonderful rush of mint and baking spice. Fabulous." 96-100 pts.
Reviewed by: The Wine Enthusiast

I say:  Why gin?  Because when I think of England and alcohol, gin is one of the first that comes to mind. Also: "Gin craze." Note though, that this bottle is actually Scottish in origin. Plus, some folks at Podium Cafe really think that I should be drinking beer and saving the gin for London. But given my sadness about Cav: gin. Also: yellow for the jersey!

So this gin is infused with saffron, which explains the slight yellow tone. It is the sort of gin that one should probably drink paired with simply an ice cube. My first thought was a Negroni. But instead, I'm drinking an Aviation. Because when you have gin, Luxardo and Creme de Violette at home, it seems the right thing to do.

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