Now it is time for Tour de France, French wine and maybe some French beer. But we will also visit Spain and Switzerland. I started this as a series in Norwegian six years ago (with title in French: Les Vins du Tour de France). The year after I started a similar series on Giro d’Italia, and as some may have discovered: I started doing a series on Giro d’Italia in English this year.
I usually spend the summer in southern France. When Tour the France stages start, finish or pass this area, I usually go to watch. But I am not travelling with the circus around France. I watch Tour de France on French television. It should come as no surprise that TV France put a lot of resources into their Tour de France coverage, including coverage of what goes on before and after the race.
I got the idea for the blog series during the 12. stage of Tour de France 2009, from Tonnere to Vittel, when the doyen of french sports journalism, Gerhard Holtz, presented champagne from the area Côte de Bar, south in Champagne. At that time, I did not know that they produced champagne so far south. And then; Why not explore the wines produced along the stages in Tour de France. This is a good a system as any other for getting to know French wines.
I have put in a parenthesis (and some other drinks). They do not produce wine in all parts of France, at least not noteworthy wines. So then we stick to beer, other drinks — and maybe even some other subjects.
I am not pretending to be an expert on Frensh or Italian wines. But I have found this an interesting approach for me, as I want to learn more about these wines. You are invited on board my learning experience.
The Tour de France 2016 Wine Scandal
Tour de France has chosen an official wine, which is sponsoring Tour de France, The scandal is: They have chosen a Chilean wine, Bicicleta. There is nothing wrong with Chilean wine or the wine Bicicleta. But this is Tour de FRANCE! The leading wine country in the world, the reference that all other wine producing countries are measured against.
As people interested in cycling know, the World Championship in 2017 will be in Bergen in Norway. Their general sponsor is “Norwegian Salmon”. Having a Chilean wine as the official Tour de France wine, would be like having Scottish Salmon as general sponsor for the World Championship in Norway.
Despite that wine growing is deeply rooted in French culture, and is important for French economy, marketing of alcoholic beverages, including wine, is striclty regulated. A sport event in France, like Tour de France cannot be sponsored by a producer of alcoholic beverages. Only the stages in Spain and Switzerland can be sponsored like this. But nevertheless: If there should be an official wine, or a wine sposor, it should be a French wine.
French winegrowers are upset. They may disturb Tour de France, due to this. I understand that they are upset an have sympathy with the cause, but do not support actions they may take against Tour de France.
When writing about Wines and other drinks of Giro d’Iatalia, I was complaining that I did not have precise maps of the wine regions. Not so in France. There are three excellent wine atlases of France. These are the kind of atlases I would like to have for each major wine producing country.
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.
There are three books published yearly covering French wines. I have problems choosing which one is the better, and buy all three every year. I am mainly using them when planning trips to wine producers. There are so many wine producers. In wine producing districts, there are signs saying “Degustation du vin” everywhere. I do not want to taste wines at random, tasting a lot of uninteresting wines. I do a little research, and visit producers known for good wines.
Les meilleurs vins de France 2016
This book is published by the wine magazine La revue du vin de France. Of the three yearly books on French wines, this is the one I consult first. That does noe mean that I can say that it is better than the other two. It is more a matter of habit. This book was the first I got to know.
Buy it from:
Guide Hachette des vins 2016
Guide des vins
I read regularly two French wine magazines, Terres de VIns and La Revue du vins de France, and use information from them when writing this series.
There are books in English on French wine. But to be honest, I mainly read French litterature on this subject. But as France is the leading wine producing country, the books on wine in general have a lot of information on French wine.
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".
The Oxford Companion to Wine
If you want to have a more encylopedic book on wines, Jancis Robinsons and Julia Child: The Oxford Companion to Wine is the one to have. It is an encyclopedia of wine, with articles on not everything, but as close as you can get in one volume. It is written by on of the world's leading experts on wine.
I have the third edition, published in 2006. It is now in its foruth edition, published in 2015. A lot has happened in the wine business since 2006. So maybe I should get myself a copy of the most recent edition. It is available in hardcover edition and Kindle edition. When reading a book from beginning to end, I like Kindle. But when jumping around from one article to another, I prefer the paper version. An e-version of a book like this should be organized like a database, not as a "book".
A complete guide to 1,368 vine varieties, including their origins and flavours
Wine is made from grapes. A product will never be better than the raw material, and an agricultural product will get its basic taste and character from its raw material: The grapes. If we want to know wine, we must know the grapes, at least some of them.
Frankly, this is a book for nerds or professionals. 1 368 grape varieties. Where do they come from, where are they grown and what do they taste like? I use this book quite frequently.
This book too is available in a Kindle edition and in a hardcover edition. For an encyclopedie like this, I prefer the hardcover paper version, over the Kindle edition.
Grapes & Wines: A comprehensive guide to varieties and flavours
If you want to know more about grapes, but think that Jancis Robinson's book is a bit too much (or a bit too expensive), you can choose Oz Clarke and Margaret Rand's Grapes & Wines: A comprehensive guide to varieties and flavours. This book was one of my favourites until I bought Jancis Robinson's book. There is a new edition since the one I have.
You can get it in a Kindle versions and a Hard Cover version. For a book like this, I prefer the paper version.
Tour de France 2016
- Stage 1: Mont-Saint-Michel / Utah Beach Sainte-Marie-du-Mont
- Stage 2: Saint-Lô -- Cherbourg-en-Cotentin
- Stage 3: Granville -- Angers
- Stage 4: Saumur -- Limoges
- Stage 5: Limoges -- Le Lioran
- Stage 6: Arpajon-sur-Cère -- Montauban
- Stage 7: l’Isle-Jourdain — Lac de Payolle
- Stage 8: Pau — Bagnères-de-Luchon
- Stage 9: Vielha Val d’Aran — Andorre Arcalis
- Stage 10: Escaldes-Engordany — Revel
- Stage 11: Carcassonne — Montpellier
- Stage 12: Montpellier -- Mont Ventoux
- Stage 13: Bourg-Saint-Andéol — La Caverne du Pont-d’Arc
- Stage 14: Montélimar — Villars-les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux
- Stage 15: Bourg-en-Bresse — Culoz
- Stage 16: Moirans-en-Montagne — Berne
- Stage 17: Berne — Finhaut-Emosson
- Stage 18: Sallanches — Megève
- Stage 19: Albertville — Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc
- Stage 20: Megève — Morzine-Avoriaz
- Stage 21: Chantilly — Paris Champs-Élysées
Tour de France