Thursday, July 23, 2015

Wine & Food of the Tour de France 2015, Stage 18: Danilo Thomain Enfer D'Avier & Fondue

Stage 18 186.5km
Gap / Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne

Some history from the tourist website: The Maurienne is the southernmost biggest valley cross-cutting the Savoy making it easy to travel from France through to Italy. At the heart of the valley, on the banks of the Arc river and surrounded by towering mountains with the Aiguilles d’Arves as a backdrop, you will find a small village previously known as Maurienne.
Gontran, King of Burgundy, conquered the region in the 6th century allowing the bishop of Turin to retain religious authority over it. As legend would have it, it was at this time that Saint Thècle brought the three fingers of saint Jean-Baptiste, said to have baptised Christ, to the town. In order to accept such honourable remains, Gontran made the village an episcopal see. The village took its name and coat of arms from the remains and became the valley's capital. It was called Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and was symbolised by « the blessing hand », a hand held up in the traditional pose of blessing. This event is celebrated at the Bread Festival on the first Thursday of every August.
As the capital of a diocese, the town built various religious monuments, many of which do not exist to this day. The cathedral, however, is still standing. These first buildings were rebuilt after the unrest of the early Middle-Ages using material found on-site : fragments of sculptures from the Carolingian period were re-used.
Specialities: Mont Corbier liqueur, Savoie, reblochon, abondance, Beaufort (all cheeses, Opinel knives
The stage: Christian Prudhomme's comment: 1815-2015 : the Route Napoléon will next year celebrate the 200th anniversary of the “100 days”. The pack however might not be in a festive mood when leaving Gap and going up to the Col Bayard before further battling it out on the Col du Glandon. Stage victory could be decided on the 18 bends of Montvernier, set to enter the legend of the Tour de France.
A thought from Mark Cavendish:

I've said it far too many times, but I would love a designated grupetto cam on mountain stages.
Our break of the day, in visual form, again, from Team Movistar:

Speaking of dots, Rodriguez has gained enough KOM points in the break to be the virtual leader in the polka dot jersey competition. On the road, beautiful scenery and word that Mark Renshaw has abandoned. Cavendish has lost almost his entire train for the leadout in Paris on Sunday. Renshaw is the 37th rider to drop out of the Tour.

With one hundred kilometers to go, the break had just under four minutes on the peloton. That peloton had been shrinking and was down to under forty as they continued along the road. Ahead, there had been a split in the breakaway group with Talansky, Fuglsang, Rodriguez, Barta, Martin, Plaza, Voeckler, Herrada, Caruso, Anacona, and De Gendt in the lead.


Sixty five kilometers to go and DeGendt had gone solo. A pretty picture of the final climb on the day:

Next up though the Col du Glandon. As they climbed, a new group at the front:
Gesink, Bardet, Rolland, Pauwels, Pinot, Fuglsang, Rodriguez, Jungels, Caruso, and Anacona. There were riders spread out in between, but the yellow jersey group had gotten very small: Nibali, Scarponi, Froome, König, Poels, Porte, Roche, Thomas, Contador, Majka, Rogers, Kreuziger, Izagirre, Quintana, Valverde, Wyss, Sanchez, Barguil, Gesink, Kruijswijk, Mollema, Oliveira, Frank, and Perichon. 

Finally, an attack from Contador. Froome does not chase.



Further behind, an attack from Nibali. Sky did not react, but Valverde chased. Nibali again, but Quintana helped chase. Behind, Valverde appeared to be struggling. 

Alone at the front, Bardet, with many chasers in between the Frenchman and the yellow jersey group. That group was coming back together behind. 

Mollema would catch back on, just as they were preparing to climb again. It was almost hairpin time. 
With 13.6 kilometers to go, Bardet had 41” over eight riders and  3’12” to the 20-rider yellow jersey group. At the top of the climb, Bardet had 45 seconds over the closest chasers.

 And Bardet would indeed hold on for the win.




Wine: Danilo Thomain Enfer D'Avier 2013
From FranklyWines
From the importer: The vineyards of the Enfer d’Arvier appellation are situated in an amphitheater-shaped site on steep slopes in a high-altitude valley, which receives ample sun.  The shape of this “bowl” of vineyards effectively concentrates the heat of the sun, thus giving birth to the “hell of Arvier” moniker.  Danilo Thomain is the only independent vigneron working this tiny appellation only five hectares in size.  The Thomain family works one hectare of vineyards here in the shadow of Mont Blanc.
A traditional wine made from the Petit Rouge grape and vinified in cuve, it has a compelling rusticity with a wild berry impression and a lively freshness on the palate.  Production at the Thomain estate is approximately 2500 bottles per year, approximately two-thirds of which is shipped to us for the US market!

I say: Revisiting a wine from the 2013 Tour and I am still a fan, especially on day two. You can still  learn a lot more about the wines of the region from this Eric Asimov article in the New York Times. A teaser: "The Valle d’Aosta is a winding network of vineyards, some on dizzyingly steep slopes at the highest elevations of any in Europe. The wines are by both tiny producers and bigger cooperatives, coming from a few familiar grapes (pinot noir, nebbiolo, gamay) and a whole host you rarely see anywhere else, like fumin and cornalin, petit rouge and prié. . .

Food: Fondue Because when you have a lot of cheese. . .
Our recipe has not changed from our Cooking from the Books days. 

8 oz. grated cheese
1 cup white wine (from the Savoie in this case)
As much nutmeg as K felt like grating
1 teaspoon corn starch

Heat wine over a medium-high heat until it begins to foam but does not boil. Add cheese gradually, stirring all the while. Grate in nutmeg and continue to stir until the mixture begins to thicken slightly. Add cornstarch and stir until the mixture thickens enough to coat your dipping items. Pour into a fondue pot and place over sterno to keep warm.

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