Friday, July 11, 2014

Wines of the Tour Stage 7: Trentin & Marie-Noelle Ledru Coteaux Champenois Ambonnay Rouge

Where are we: Le Tour link
Epernay. Well, I am thinking Champagne but for a bit of history: Epernay belonged to the archbishops of Reims from the 5th until the 10th century, when it came into the possession of the counts of Champagne. It was badly damaged during the Hundred Years' War and burned by Francis I in 1544. It resisted Henry of Navarre in 1592, and Marshal Biron fell in the attack which preceded its eventual capture. In 1642 it was, along with Château-Thierry, named as a duchy and assigned to the duc de Bouillon.

Specialties: champagne, champagne ratafia, champagne marc, bouchon de chocolat au marc de Champagne (chocolate), potee champenoise (stew), pink biscuits.

Our finishing town is Nancy. Their local tourism board tells me that Nancy is in the Lorraine region
Lorraine is located in the north-east quarter of France, between Champagne and Alsace. It is a magnificent region of woodland, rolling plains and mountains, crossed by the river Moselle which flows from its source in the department of Vosges, through the departments of Meurthe and Meuse.
The four departments of Lorraine, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Meuse, Moselle and Vosges, offer a very contrasting topography. The diverse natural landscapes of Meuse and Vosges are a focus for green, family tourism. Their plains, rolling hills and valleys, low mountain ranges, ponds and lakes make them great regions for family holidays and sporting activities. Metz, the regional capital of Moselle with its Pompidou Centre, and Nancy, the regional capital of Meurthe et Moselle with its museums and UNESCO sites, not to mention the magnificent Lunéville  château are popular with urban cultural tourists.
Lorraine was an independent duchy for many centuries, but was finally incorporated as part of France in 1766, although the historic borders do not exactly match those of the present-day Lorraine region. As a major north/south and east/west European crossroads, Lorraine has been the backdrop for numerous conflicts, but like all places that have acted as historic crossing points, it is also a region of exchange, openness and assimilation.
Specialities : bergamot, macaroons, mirabelle plums, lorraine pâté, quiche lorraine 

Le Tour preview: It is not just the 234.5 km distance which will make this stage hard to control. There will be two tough climbs in the run-up to the finish. The gradient on one of them, five kilometres from the line, hits 8%. With this course, will the sprinters' team take the reins of the race and risk seeing their leaders blow up on the last slopes? It remains to be seen. With two weeks of racing left, some teams may have started dosing their efforts by the time we reach this point. All in all, I expect to see quite a tactical stage culminating in a thrilling finale. The peloton should reach Nancy in pieces.

The race: Another day for the sprinters or will the break stay away?  Time will tell. 
The break of the day contained Pichot, Delaplace, Edet, Huzarski, Elmiger and Busche. Their early gap went out to four minutes, but Cannondale came to the front, as sign that perhaps it may be a Sagan day and after 85 kilometers it had dropped to 2:30. Another crash and Stef Clement abandoned the race. Meanwhile, Cannondale continued to push the pace at the front. 

More on Verdun here, from the BBC. 
Ninety nine kilometers to go and the gap was down to 1:17. Next up was the intermediate sprint point. Maximum points again from Coquard from the field. 
78.9 kilometers to go, and the gap was at 1'03". Another abandonment:
Danny Van Poppel. 

Meanwhile: quiche? pie? tart? Brie de Meaux?

Sixty three kilometers to go and the gap was under one minute. 

In the break, Elmiger and Huzarski rode ahead. Behind, the peloton continued to amble along, providing an excellent reminder that transition stages can be dull. That said, there were possible fireworks ahead. The gap was 1’13” gap to the two with 39.8 kilometers to go. Suddenly though, the peloton woke up and decided to chase. 29.8 kilometers to go, that gap was down to 40”. 

With that acceleration at the front, Kittel, Degenkolb, Greipel and others were dropped. Ahead, on the penultimate climb, a Voeckler attack. He was quickly caught though and Orica GreenEdge came to the front. A crash toward the front, including Tejay van Garderen. This would be a tough chase back on for him with only 14 kilometers to go.

Another abandonment: Atapuma. Hey, Sylvain Chavanel. Maybe he is out of his witness protection program? At the front of the peloton, Jens Voigt, as the BMC group continued to chase back on. An attack from Gautier, but he was caught quickly. Lots of small attacks, eventually Greg Van Avermaet and Sagan emerged.

One kilometer to go and they were caught. Behind, another crash. And another, including Talansky. 

Up front, a photo finish. 

Stage: Matteo Trentin
Yellow: Vincenzo Nibali

Wine: Marie-Noelle Ledru Coteaux Champenois Ambonnay Rouge
From Frankly Wines


I say: I know that I said no more curve balls, but I could not resist. As in yesterday's wine, I'm fascinated by the still wines from this region, probably because I have not had the chance to taste many of them. This one is very easy to drink. Some acid. Flowers and spice, with red fruit. My Tour favorite so far. Thanks Christy!

I recommend this blog post from Brooklyn Guy Loves Wine on a visit to the producer. Also more on Coteaux Champenois from Peter Liem here.

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