Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Wine and Food of the Tour 2016 Stage 4: Le Grolleau Thibault & Clafoutis

Where are we? Riding 232 kilometers from Saumur in the Maine-et-Loire  to Limoges in La Haute-Vienne, the longest stage of the race. 

Saumur: The native city of Coco Chanel. The Telegraph has some advice on what to do with 36 hours there. "Even if the name Saumur has passed you by, the chances are you will know it by sight. Its turreted chateau, hewn from the region’s signature tuffeau limestone and with a majestic presence over the Loire, is liberally used to illustrate the area’s appeal.

It is, however, far from the only reason to visit Saumur, sitting elegantly astride France’s longest river.  Sparkling wine cellars cluster the outskirts of town,  while fine-dining options dot the medieval centre. It is also home to France’s national equestrian school and its celebrated Cadre Noir, the elite band of instructors who show off their remarkable horsemanship every summer."

LeTour Specialities: Fouées (tarts topped with green beans or goat's cheese), Paris mushrooms, dried apples, wines from Saumur and Saumur-Champigny, Royal Combier (digestif)

Limoges: Lonely Planet reminds me what Limoges is famous for: "Porcelain connoisseurs will already be familiar with the legendary name of Limoges. For over 200 years, the city has thrived as the top producer of excellent hard-paste porcelain (china) in France. Several factories continue to make ‘limoges’ and stunning examples fill city museums and galleries.
Limoges is on the site of the 10 BC Roman city Augustoritum which took advantage of this strategic position on the River Vienne. The modern-day centre is compact and easy to explore: historic buildings and museums cluster in the medieval Cité quarter, alongside the river, and the partly pedestrianised Château quarter, just to the west."

LeTour Specialities: Potée limousine (stew), galetous (pancake made from buckwheat flour), girot (sausage made with lamb's blood), burgou (chestnut cake), treipaïs (chocolate, hazelnut and chestnut cake), clafoutis, flognarde (custard tart with baked pears)

From LeTour: Christian Prudhomme's comment The stroke of a pen on the map of France says it all: 232 kilometres. It'll be the longest stage and it should have an effect on the legs in the closing moments. The beautiful flat roads going through the Haute-Vienne area should favour the sprinters. Just as much as the final slightly uphill straight ending the stage in front of the City hall. 

The stage:  A bit of a transitional stage today, when the race really needs to get from one place to another and takes a long time getting there. Thus, a basically flat stage that is also the longest of the race. 
A four man breakaway today, consisting of Oliver Naesen, Alexis Gougerard, Markel Irizar and Andreas Schillinger. With 130 kilometers to go, they had 5:20 on the main bunch. 75 kilometers to go and it was down to 2:15.  
Pretty scenery today:

Ahead, Gougerard was dropped form the break. Thirty kilometers to go and the gap was under one minute.   
Sure enough, to the sprint finish they would go, with another photo finish, with the man many had been expecting to win Stage 1 taking his first victory in this year's race.




Wine: Le Grolleau Thibault 
From Selection Massale: Not from a winemaking family, but with degrees in biology and oenology, Marie Thibault began making wine in the early 2000s.  She worked for a time at François Chidaine in Montlouis, where she fell in love with Chenin Blanc.  In 2011, she founded her own 3.5 hectare domaine in Azay-le-Rideau, a lesser known environ of the Touraine appellation.  While in some sense this is a new beginning for Marie, she has over a decade of experience making wine and benefits from strong relationships with many growers in the region such as Noëlla Morantin and Frantz Saumon.  It sounds cliché, but her passion and energy are infectious; she’s also humble, learning one year to the next how to progress and improve. 
Marie’s Grolleau (as an aside, Azay-le-Rideau is the origin of the Grolleau variety), is airy and low alcohol coming in at 10.5 degrees, and made using carbonic maceration. More so than her Grandes Vignes blend, Marie’s Grolleau is a vin de soif.  


Food: Blueberry Clafoutis  
Tour specialty alert! 
Often made with cherries, we subbed blueberries because we had them on hand. A clafoutis is fruit, baked with a dense, rich custard. We used the Julia Child recipe, which can be found here.

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