Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wine & Food of the Tour de France 2016: Stage 11: Sagan, La Sorga Ah Ramon & Millas

Where are we? Back to some familiar stage towns, riding 164 kilometers from  Carcassonne to Montpellier. 

Carcassonne is an eight time tour city located in the Aude. Michelin says With its double encircling of ramparts and its chateau, its formidable citadel built between the Languedoc plain and the first foothills of Corbière, the city of Viscount Terncavel nourishes the imagination of all those who come upon it. Saved from ruin by Mérimée and restored (sometimes somewhat damagingly) by Viollet-le-Duc, it has maintained all its evocative power and this makes it a place to be visited in Languedoc. 
The local tourism site tells me that the city has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: THE MEDIEVAL CITY: Situated on the right bank of the Aude, the Medieval City is a fortified city unlike any other in Europe, on account of its size and its state of preservation. Its history is marked by 2000 years of conquest and by the imprint of Catharism and the Crusades.
 THE CANAL DU MIDI: The work of Pierre-Paul Riquet and excavated in the XVIIth century to link the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, the Canal du Midi, formerly used for transporting goods and people, is today frequented by numerous boaters and tourists.
LeTour Specialities: Cassoulet, petit Carcassonnais (madeleine), Micheline (liqueur), Aude wines (Minervois, Cabardes, Corbières, Malepère…)

Montpellier is a thirty one time Tour city and the capital of Languedoc-Roussillon. The local tourist website tells me that The place de la Comédie, Montpelier’s iconic heart, is the top place to visit. Once known as the Place de l’Oeuf (Egg Square) because of its oval shape, it is one of the largest pedestrian precincts in Europe and is dominated by the imposing Opéra Comédie. In the centre, the ‘Three Graces’ stand proudly, a fountain and statue built in 1773. 
The UK Telegraph has a recent 36 Hours in Montpellier piece. From theat piece: Montpellier is, at any time, the most seductive city in the French south – elegant, cultured and tolerant, with Mediterranean blood coursing through its veins and dynamism to spare. Lacking industry, the place has majored on brains and bravura. World-class architects are forever turning up to add showpieces. The trams – designed latterly by Christian Lacroix as moving tableaux – have been called “the sexiest in the world”. It takes a startling city to make trams sexy.
LeTour Specialities: Mediterranean cuisine, Montpellier butter (condiment flavoured with herbs and anchovies), grisettes (sweets)

From LeTour: Christian Prudhomme's comment
Habits are tough to keep and finishers distinguish themselves by a strong attachment to some territories. They have for instance in recent years made of Montpellier one of the capitals of sprints on the Tour and will do their best to keep that reputation alive. But many will do their best to change habits.

The stage: Action! Five crashes in the first thirty kilometers. Plus a forest fire visible from the road. The words of the day: wind and nerves.

The break of the day would contain only two riders today: Leigh Howard and Arthur Vichot. With 113 kilometers to go, they had 2:36. 

Ninety four kilometers to go and the gap was up to four minutes. And, action again:

Splits in the peloton and the gap was down to two minutes to the break ahead. Some regrouping occurred and then, echelons!

The race was split into six or seven groups on the road, with the lead two only 30 seconds ahead. There would be some regrouping, though more echelons were predicted. Sky to the front and the break would be caught. Lots of riders dropped again. Crash! Majka down hard and others slowed. 
At the intermediate sprint, Kittel followed by Sagan and Cavendish. The chase group with Pinot and others, was one minute behind the main pack. More regrouping though.

And then, well, that was unexpected. Froome, Sagan, Thomas and Bodnar got away from the group and would stay away. Dear Movistar? Really?



Wine: Antony Tortul La Sorga, Ah Ramon
Another from Selection Massale
This one amde of  Aramon 70% / 20% Cinsault / Carignan, there Terret Muscat 10% 
From their Raw Wine Fair listingWe started in 2008 our activity as negociant-winemakers in the Languedoc. We selected more than 40 different vine on different soils and area in the south if France. The vines are all grown in organic and some of them in biodynamic. We work mainly with old variety grapes (like Aramon, Terret Bourret, Aubun, Carignan, Cinsault, Mauzac ...) and very old vines. Our purpose is to produce pure terroir wines (we never mix defferent wines of different areas), with noninterventionist vinifications, that's why we don't add any chemical or sulfits in our wines. Every year we produce 20 to 34 different wines all in small quantites. This year we start to grow our vines, a new adventure begins for us.
Food: The food of the day really should be Cassoulet. But poor planning on my part meant that did not happen. Next year! So instead, a cornmeal cake based upon Millas, which Google tells me is common in the Southwest and was a Tour food of the day yesterday (but cheese called). I did find a few recipes online, but instead decided to have some fun and top this Nigella recipe (minus the lemon), with a marzipan crumble. Because, really, I still dream of recreating the much missed Della Fattoria polenta cake.

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