Marcel Kittel is the King of the sprints this year. We got a new demonstration of power from him.
But we will not see much of Marcel Kittel and the other sprinters the next days. Now the riders are going into the mountains, and today there is a mountain top finish. The GC-contenders must show their cards, and start to attack Chris Froome.
I will start with the topography, and I like to use this sattellite image.
We see two of the mountain areas in France: The Pyrenees, which is the border between Spain and France, and Massif Central to the north. There are much that could be said about these mountain areas. But I will only mention that the Pyrenees are high and steep, and is a wall that goes from west to east. The weather on the Spanish side south of the Pyrenees and the French side to the north, can be very different. In Spain, it is usually warm and dry, and it can give a warm foehn wind around Pau.
Massif Central and the sourhern part Montagne Noir (Black Mountain) is not as high and step. But together, the Pyrenees and Montagne Noir make a funnel, wide in the west and as its most narrow around the medieval town Carcassonne. Wind from the Atlantic, which is often cool and humid, comes into the funnel. It is pressed up by the mountains, it cools down, the humidity condensates and fall down as rain. It has often been foggy and rain when I have been at the French side of the Pyrenees. And it can be strong winds. But the weather forcast for today says it will be nice weather.
But back to wine. It is often hard to find wine in the mountain areas, so we have to get some wine from the start.
We can start with Béarn, which is more known for the sauce than for the wine: Béarnaise. But there are wines from Béarn. A part of AOP Béarn is the same area as Jurançon, another part the same as Madiran and a third part is outside Salies-de-Béarn, ca 40 km north west of Pau. AOP Béarn is a confusing appellation. The area does to a large extent overlap with other appellations.
It is not unusual that one geographical area has several, differently classified wines. Sometimes it is hierarchical. We can use Bordeaux as an example. We have AOP Bordeaux, which can be used by most producers in the Bordeaux region. Then there are districts like Medoc, Saint Emillion, Pomerol, Graves etc. Within these districts, the communes may have their own classification, like Paulliac, Margeaux Saint Jullien and Saint Estephe in Medoc. Other examples of multiple classifications are when they are producing very different wines within the same area. If we go a bit to the north-east, we have red Madiran and white Panchere-du-Vic-Bilh. But in Bèarn, they produce, as far as I have been able to find out, the same types of wines as in Madiran / Panchere-du-Vic-Bilh and in Jurançon, with the same types of grapes.
When going i bit into the details, my impression is that AOP Bèarn at least to some extent is a classificatin for “wrong wine” within a classified area. It can be a red wine from Jurançon, which cannot be classified as AOP Jurançon, as this is a classification for white wines only. I have also seen a rosé for the Madiran-district, which can neither be AOP Madiran nor Panchere-du-Vic-Bilh, as these are classifications for respectively red and white wines only. But anyhow, to me the wines classified as AOP Bèarn, seems not to be the more interesting wines.
We continue to Jurançon. Jurançon is an area south west of Pau. The wine area starts just outside the town. Jurançon is a landscape with hilles and valleys in the north – south direction. The vineyards are mainly in the hillsides.
Today’s stage goes to the east, or rather east south-east, and does not go into Jurançon. But it is a wine region well worth looking into.
In Jurançon, they have been producing wine for a long time. Wines from the area are mentioned in texts from 998. The term “cru” was first used for classification of wine in this ares, it dates from the 14th century. The warm foehn winds from Spain gives a warm climate, with high sugar in the grapes. They produce two types of wine in Jurançon, both white. One is Le Jurançon which is sweet, and Le Jurancon Sec, which is dry. They are made from the grapes petit and gros manseng, and petit courbu. The grapes for the bes Le Jurançon is harvested late, often as late as November or December. This gives over ripe grapes with much sugar.
I include two wines that I bought some years ago, when the Tour was also visiting Pau. One is Cuvée Marie 2007 (dry) and Uroulat 2009 (sweet). Both are produced by Uroulat, an excellent producer.
On my virtual wine travels along the stages of Tour de France and Giro d’Italia I have found many interesting wines. I have also learned a lot about the regions they have visited. To repeat myself: No one learns as much from this as I do. I will like to emphasise the sweet dessert wines I have learned to know. I like very well one glass of sweet dessert wine the rather few times I have dessert. Jurançon has become one of my favourites.
As every wine snob, I like to choose wines that are a bit outside of the mainstream. To order a Chateau d’Yquem or a DOM Perrignon do not require much more than money. To order a Jurançon, or a champagne from Côte-du-Bar, requires knowledge. Which is of course what every wine snob like to demonstrate.
The World Atlas of Wine
If you will have only one book on wine, “The World Atlas of Wine”, by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson is the one you should have. It is a classic, and it is now in its seventh edtition. It is a beautiful book with nice maps and excellent content. It covers the entire world, but still with an emphazis on "The Old World".
Grand Atlas des vignobles de France
This is the kind of atlas I would like to have for all wine producing countries in the world. Good and detaield maps, with informative text. Could we wish for more? Some may wish for another laguage, as this is in French only.
Tour de France 2017
- Norwegian version
- Stage 1. Prolog in Düsseldorf
- Stage 2. Düsseldorf — Liege
- Stage 3. Verviers — Longwy
- Stage 4. Mondorf-les-Bains — Vittel
- Stage 5. Vittel — La planche des belles filles
- Stage 6. Vesoul — Troyes
- Stage 7. Troyes — Nuits-Saint-Georges
- Stage 8. Dole — Station des rousses
- Stage 9. Natuna — Chambréy
- Stage 10. Périgueux — Bergerac
- Stage 11. Eymet — Pau
- Stage 12. Pau — Peyragudes
- Stage 13. Saint-Girons — Foix
- Stage 14. Blagnac — Rodez
- Stage 15. Laissac-Sévérac l’Église — Le Puy-en-Velay
- Stage 16. Le Puy-en-Velay — Romans-sur-Isère
- Stage 17. La Mure — Serre-Chevalier
- Stage 18. Briançon — Izoard
- Stage 19. Embrun — Salon-de-Provence
- Stage 20. Marseille — Marseille (individual time trial)
- Stage 21 Montgeron — Paris Champs-Élysées
Tour de France