Sunday, July 28, 2019

Wine & Food of LeTour 2019 Stage 21: Rambouillet > Paris Champs-Élysées

Where are we? Rambouillet: We had horses earlier, so why not sheep? In 1840 the Ile-de-France sheep breed was created by crossing merinos and dishleys. The experimentation of the breeding of new animals also began under Louis XVI with Swiss cows, North African sheep, angora goats, mouflons and continued under Napoleon I who brought buffaloes from Italy for traction, Belgian, Norman and Arab horses. Agronomic experimentation began at the same time, with 275 hectares of crops and meadows in what was once the hunting domain. The national rural establishment became imperial in 1840 with the construction of the first imperial sheepfolds, then royal from 1815 to 1848, and again imperial from 1853 to 1870 under the second Empire, with the construction of the second imperial sheepfolds. 
In the heart of the Domain of Rambouillet, the National Sheepfold is a large agricultural estate with two hundred years of history, listed as a historical monument. It is also a vast exploitation of 230 hectares. Today, the farm keeps no less than 600 sheep including 200 ewes and 50 merino rams , 80 cows, 10 draft horses, 15 goats, 4 donkeys, 4000 chickens 20 rabbits and 1 pig.
The National Sheepfold has a transformation and marketing department. It produces around 350,000 litres of milk a year. A "gourmet shop" has been created where you can find products made on site or from other agricultural schools (charcuterie, prepared meals, honey, etc. ...) the National Sheepfold receives about 110 000 visitors each year.
Showcase of sustainable agriculture in perfect harmony with the agricultural policies of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ile-de-France Region and Europe, exploitation has been reconsidered for ten years to redirect its productions and educate the public and professionals on the issues of sustainable development and food. The farm today ensures the food autonomy of herds, the drastic reduction of plant protection products and chemical fertilizers ... Finally innovative in terms of ecological maintenance and green spaces, the farm uses animal traction to cleaning and mowing. The National Sheepfold is also a training centre adapted to various audiences (teachers, elected representatives, development agents, local officials) in the fields related to the major problems of today's agriculture and the local economy.
Specialties: Rambolitan (pastry made from macaroon paste and praline mousse), beers from La Reine breweries, products from the national sheep-farm (terrines, cheese, Merino sheep wool), pheasant terrine (pheasant-based) of the plain of Rambouillet.

Paris: For 44 years since the Tour de France ended on the Champs-Élysées, the last stage has become a showcase event most often concluded by a prestigious victory for sprinters. Until 2012, the course of the Paris parade remained the same (with the notable exception of the time trial of 1989), but the 100th edition of the event, in 2013, was an opportunity to add historical value to this grandiose curtain drop. That year, the final stage started from the Palace of Versailles and ended at dusk with several laps around the Arc de Triomphe, which the race had until then only seen from a distance. In 2003, already, the prologue of the Tour of the centenary had allowed the race to pay tribute to the most famous building of Paris, the Eiffel Tower. Two years ago, the peloton rode through Grand Palais, making a stop at Petit Palais, which has always served as a gateway onto the Champs-Elysées. Last year, the peloton made a detour by Avenue Montaigne and its luxury boutiques. This year, the Louvre and its iconic pyramid will be visited by the peloton. The riders will indeed cross the Cour Carrée of the Louvre before making it into the Napoleon courtyard by a ramp and ride along the pyramid from its Seine side. Much criticised on its inauguration in 1989, the p Louvre pyramid celebrates its thirty years this year and is now unanimously accepted as a landmark in the Parisian landscape. The metal structure that supports the glass cladding is made of steel and aluminium and weighs 200 tons; the pyramid stands at 21.64 meters on a square base of 35.42 meters. It is covered with 603 diamonds and 70 glass triangles and was the first major construction to use laminated glass. Its architect, Ieoh Minh Peng, died on May 16.
Specialties: French gastronomy, more than 13,500 breweries and restaurants


The stage: Here we go on the annual parade to Paris followed by an intense sprint. If you have been here before, you will know that this is basically an all visual day on the Tour for this blog.
As we finish, this will be the picture of the race for me:

And the annual drinking of the Champagne:


This is not shocking at all:


Glad to hear that he would indeed be on the podium in Paris.
This was very cool:


And then:


 And time for our doomed break of the day:




I admit as we get ready for the sprint, that in my dreams Alaphilippe would be launched for a win here. In reality, the team would be working for Viviani.
Yikes, bike change for Matthews, as we see Colbrelli brought back to the pack by Nibali.
Final lap!
Wow, Caleb Ewan with a late burst of speed.

3h 04' 08''
+ 00' 00''
+ 00' 00''
+ 00' 00''
+ 00' 00''
+ 00' 00''
+ 00' 00''
+ 00' 00''
+ 00' 00''


The wine: Pierre Paillard Les Parcelles Bouzy Grand Cru 
The importer tells me that:  Pierre Paillard is a small grower‐producer of Champagnes located in the Grand Cru village of Bouzy. Since Antoine Paillard bought vineyards there in 1768, the Paillard family has been cultivating vines in this prestigious village, and today, Antoine and Quentin Paillard represent the eighth generation in the family and the fourth generation to produce, and bottle the wines under their family name. 
Bouzy is one of the 17 villages in the Champagne region that has been classified as Grand Cru, the highest classification that can be awarded. It is renowned for producing some of the finest Pinot Noir in all of Champagne as its situation on the south‐facing side of the Montagne de Reims is ideal for the difficult to ripen Pinot Noir grape. The wines of Bouzy tend to be more rich and powerful with expressive noses, and as Antoine Paillard says, the challenge for them in Bouzy is not achieving ripeness as is the case in much of the Champagne region, but rather maintaining balance and freshness.

The food: It has been a long Tour. Why not do as we did and go out and treat yourself to a perfect soufflé? In our case at Cafe Jacqueline.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Wine & Food of LeTour 2019: Stage 20 Albertville > Val Thorens

Where are we? Albertville: Let's be sporty: Olympic campus A testimony to the Olympic past of Albertville, it houses the Olympic hall, enlarged and renovated in 2015. Its climbing wall, one of the highest in Europe reflects the new hall: welcoming and adaptable. Many congresses and fairs are taking place in the new venue as well as sporting and cultural events. 
French Ski Teams National Centre Completed in 2016, it is a comprehensive 3,260 m2 sports compound on three levels, in which athletes can train in optimal conditions (gyms, recuperation halls, cryotherapy, bodybuilding, cardio-training, stretching, running track…)
Specialties: diots (sausages), polenta. Beaufort cheese region, Bauges tome, Savoy wines from Albertville vines (white & red).

Val Thorens: Time to ski: Val Thorens was voted best ski resort in the world for the fifth time in November 2018, a distinction received at the World Ski Awards held in Kitzbühel. With 1.8 million votes, it beat other world famous resorts like Kitzbühel or Verbier. Val Thorens was also voted best French resort for the sixth time in a row.
A pioneer in innovation and customer service, Val Thorens offers new experiences every year in the ski area, new places to live, accommodation and restaurants. The resort plans to further improve its offer with new projects expected to be completed by 2025.
The construction of a new sports and cultural center should be completed for the winter of 2021. Eventually it will be available in any season for any type of event: concert, Christmas village, ice rink, outdoor cinema ...Val Thorens aims to bring a unique and remarkable experience of the high mountains on Cime Caron. Pedestrians and skiers will be able to enjoy outstanding services and activities at 3,200 meters above sea level
Specialties: rissoles and serac cheese from Pepe Nicolas (bread with thick crust), Beaufort, goat cheese Tomme and sheep, blueberry tart valthorinoises, sweet farçon (applesauce), ), Génépi.

The stage: Hello shortened stage. To be precise:

Hoping we have some racing rather than weather excitement today.
Our early break: Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida), Magnus Cort (Astana), Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates), Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First), Kevin Van Melsen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Lilian Calmejane (Total Direct Energie). They were followed by a much larger group: Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Tony Gallopin (AG2R-La Mondiale), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Sébastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Omar Fraile and Gorka Izagirre (Astana), Michael Woods (EF Education First), Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott), Joey Rosskopf (CCC), Vegard Stake Laengen (UAE Team Emirates), Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Nicolas Roche (Sunweb), Pierre-Luc Périchon (Cofidis), Jens Keukeleire (Lotto-Soudal), Niccolo Bonifazio and Anthony Turgis (Total Direct Energie), Ilnur Zakarin and Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin), Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Stephen Cummings and Ben King (Dimension Data), Maxime Bouet (Arkéa-Samsic).
At kilometer 19, those groups would merge. They had 2'30'' over the peloton.

With 29km to go: Nibali, Gallopin, Zakarin and Woods were in the lead. They would be joined by Perichon. With 24 kilometers to go the peloton led by Jumbo-Visma was 1'55'' behind Zakarin, Nibali, Gallopin, Woods and Périchon.
As they continued on, many riders dropped from the yellow jersey group, including Porte and Dan Martin.
My heart was breaking as we watched Alaphilippe struggling with 13 kilometers to go. 
At the front, Nibali had attacked solo.

Sigh. A Nibali win would help with my mood. With nine kilometers to go, he had 1:05.
Behind, attacks had started in the yellow jersey group. 
Five kilometers to go and the yellow jersey group was 35'' behind Nibali with only Marc Soler in between.

My fingers were really crossed for Nibali. He has said repeatedly that he had come to stage hunt. And there was joy in Mudville as he held on.



The wine: Domaine Dupasquier Rousette de Savoie Altesse
Hey, didn't we just have a wine from these guys? Indeed, but as I said yesterday, I'm a fan.
So let's learn about the grape. Janic Robinson tells me that it is another name for Savoie's Roussette. And Rousette, well, she says: Fine Savoie speciality producing lively, crisp but scented wines. Roussette de Savoie has its own appellation in four communes, most notably Frangy. If followed by the name of a commune on the label the wine will be made exclusively of Roussette; if not, Chardonnay may constitute up to 50% of the wine.

The food: Food: Beaufort Cheese tells me that: Beaufort has been celebrated since the Roman era. It takes about 500 litres (130 gallons) of milk to make a 40-45 kg  wheel of Beaufort. The cheese is made from the milk given by the mahogany-coloured Beaufort cows, called the Tarines or Tarentaises. This ancient mountain breed originally came from the Indo-Asian continent. Beaufort cheeses come in three versions, Beaufort, Beaufort d'été (summer Beaufort),and Beaufort d'Alpage which is made in the mountain chalets and is the most tasty. Ripening takes at least four months in humid (92%) cellars with the temperature below 15° . The cheeses are constantly wiped and rubbed with brine. Young cheeses have a mild fruity, sweet taste then the taste become stronger and complex. The pate of the winter cheese is white, whereas the summer cheeses are a pale yellow, due to the cows munching on the alpine flowers.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Wine & Food of Le Tour 2019: Stage 19: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne > Tignes

Where are we? 
Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne: Knives!: The Opinel family forged metal from the very beginning of the 19th century in the little village of Albiez-le-Vieux, near Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. But it was Joseph Opinel who, in 1880, designed the knife that would make a fortune and the family’s name, before deciding to dedicate production solely to cutlery. In 1909, the brand and logo name were registered, the latter adorned with the thumb, index and middle fingers of St John the Baptist pointing at a crown – the three fingers were brought to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne by St Thecla in the sixth century and also appear on the town’s coat of arms. This simple but practical knife, with a fishtail handle cut from beech or birch and stylish carbon steel blade, has been an outstanding success. At the beginning of the Second World War, 20 million of them had been sold. This figure has now increased to 260 million units, most of them fitted the safety catch introduced in 1955 and improved in 2006. In 1973 production moved from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Cognin, near Chambery, then to Chambéry itself. But the town that was the origin of France’s most famous knife retains a museum dedicated to it. One of the most popular in Savoie, the museum now receives more than 55,000 visitors each year. St. Jean de Maurienne also placed a giant Opinel on a roundabout coming into town. For the amateur cyclist, a race known as Montée de l’Opinel, held in August, leads from St. Jean de Maurienne to the village of Albiez where the Opinel saga started -- the climb is as sharp as a blade.
Specialities: diots and pormoniers (Savoy sausages), farcement (potato and bacon cake), beaufort, persan (red wine) 

Tignes: Indoor skiing? Maybe says LeTour: Since late 2016, Tignes has launched the unprecedented project of creating an indoor ski slope, the Tignes Sport Arena, which would make it possible to ski every day of the year. Tignes is historically a hotbed of professional training both nationally and internationally. The physical preparation of high-level skiers starts in the summer. European glaciers, including the Tignes glacier, are part of the training bases of the international ski federations. But here as elsewhere, global warming translates into a loss of glacier skiing in the summer. At a time when some athletes are training on the snowy slopes of the southern hemisphere, the Tignes Sport Arena complements both the positioning of the station and the offer of skiing on the glacier.
In winter, the Tignes Sport Arena will be open on one side and become an integral part of the ski domain. The track, covered with a snow mat made of natural snow, can be thematised by including play and technical areas (toboggan run, Snow Park, slalom track, ...). The creation of a surf wave is part of the same logic of simulator experiences.
Specialties: Tignes persillé (cheese), Lace.

The stage: He made it through yesterday, but the question again today was could Alaphilippe make it through the day in yellow? My amateur opinion? Maybe. I'd like him to.
Always fun to see the break of the day form. We had many trying, including Nibali. While the break struggled to form, I was catching up on cyclist Twitter. 


Yikes. The peloton was already splitting up. This would be a long day on a short stage for the grupetto. With 96 kilometers to go, there were only around 40 riders left in the yellow jersey group. Ahead, Nibali, Bilbao, Herrada and Dan Martin had only 20''. 
At the doctor's car: Pinot getting some sort of treatment on his knee. He looked to be in significant pain and would drop way behind the main bunch. Never a good sign when they wave the teammates away. Ahead apparently the leading quartet had been caught, but the cameras were not leaving the struggling Pinot. Going into the stage, he was many's pick to win the Tour. With a final hug from a teammate, he would dismount, Tour over. 


Meanwhile, back at the front, At km 50, 29 riders were in the lead with a one minute gap:  Dylan van Baarle (Ineos), Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hasngrohe), Tony Gallopin (AG2R-La Mondiale), Vincenzo Nibali and Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Merida), Sébastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ), Alejandro Valverde, Marc Soler and Andrey Amador (Movistar), Pello Bilbao, Gorka Izagirre, Magnus Cort and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Laurens De Plus (Jumbo-Visma), Rigoberto Uran, Alberto Bettiol and Michael Woods (EF Education First), Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Dan Martin and Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates), Giulio Ciccone and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Michael Matthews (Sunweb), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Roman Kreuziger (Dimension Data), Warren Barguil and Elie Gesbert (Arkéa-Samsic).


With 60 kilometers to go, the yellow jersey group was 2' behind the 21 remaining riders at the front. Valverde and Uran, both gc threats, were still there. Very dark clouds ahead. 


Ahead: Uran, Valverde, Barguil, G. Martin, Reichenbach, Lutsenko, De Plus, Woods, Ciccone, Nibali, Caruso, S. Yates, Amador, Cort formed the 14-man leading group with 9 km left until the summit of Iseran.
Yikes. Mas dropped, leaving Alaphilippe isolated. Also dropping: Quintana. At the front of the group: Geraint Thomas. Alaphilippe was again visibly struggling. 


With forty kilometers remaining, and three from the top of Iseran there were five at the front: Uran, Barguil, Bernal, Nibali, and Yates. Alaphilippe was bleeding time behind.
Ahead, Bernal was in virtual yellow.


Finally reaching the top: Alaphilippe, just over two minutes down on Bernal. This descent would be terrifying. Visible hail on the road ahead. Snow plow on the road!
Oh wow. They stopped the race due to the weather conditions. 



1. Egan Bernal
2. Julian Alaphilippe, at 45’’
3. Geraint Thomas, at 1’3’’
4. Steven Kruijswijk, at 1’15’’
5. Emanuel Buchmann, at 1’42’’

The wine: Dupasquier Savoie Gamay 

From the importer: David Dupasquier is a fifth generation winemaker at this ultra-traditional domaine.  He and his sister Veronique run the domaine, but their Father Noel is still very much involved in the vineyards and in the cellar.
The Dupasquier vineyards are located in a southwestern lobe of the Savoie, close to the Rhône Valley.  One drives through a large mountain called “Le Dent du Chat” to arrive at the domaine, and the terroir seems almost instantly to become more Rhône-ish on the western side of this tunnel. The town is called Aimavigne, and its most prestigious vineyard is the incredibly steep “Marestel” Cru (pronounced “mah-reh-tehl” no “s”). The vines benefit from steep, sun-drenched slopes, primarily limestone soil, and the cooling effects of Lake Bourget.  David works these vineyards with a tractor and by hand – the Marestel vines entirely by hand, as a good percentage of the best sites are too steep to work with a tractor.  Plowing is done once per year for every other row and David believes that the biodiversity this leaves in the vineyard is critical for the quality of wines.  Harvest is by hand and clusters are hand selected. The style of these wines absolutely reflects the place, as well as the vineyard and cellar work.  There’s a warmth and ripeness to the wines that calls the Rhône Valley to mind, yet with freshness, acidity, and cut reminiscent of the Savoie.  The whites are broad across the palate, the Jacquère more delicate, and Roussette richer, with Marestel the richest, also the most structured and age worthy.  The reds also show a level of ripeness that is extraordinary for the Savoie.  Gamay and Pinot Noir from Dupasquier have a gorgeous core of vivid, sweet red fruit and a textural harmony that speaks to their years of aging in barrel and bottle before release.  In our opinion the Dupasquier’s top red wine is their Mondeuse.  Like other great medium bodied, tannic varieties such as Syrah and Cabernet Franc, Mondeuse benefits from long aging in neutral barrel, which softens the tannins, integrating them with the rest of the wine’s deep, spicy aromas and flavors.

The food: Farcement, from a regional tourist site
Ingredients : for 6 people

  • 25 thin rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • 1.3 kg potatoes 
  • 1 handful raisins
  • 10 prunes
  • 10 dried kergnes (pears) 
  • Salt and pepper 
Peel and finely grate the potatoes. Drain them and remove excess moisture with a cloth before placing them in a large bowl. Add the raisins, and then the prunes and dried pears cut into small pieces. Mix the ingredients to obtain a homogenous and consistent paste. Season. Line the mould with rashers of smoked bacon. Fill the mould with the potato mixture and cover. Place the sealed mould in a saucepan full of water and leave to boil for 3 or 4 hours. Empty the mould onto a plate (the farcement should be firm and not collapse). Serve cut into slices.