Wine and some other drinks of Tour de France 2016. Stage 8: Pau — Bagnères-de-Luchon

Another nice win from Stephen Cummings, which in a way reminds me of how he won in Mende last year. Now it is seriously Pyrenees, with Tourmalet, two first category and one second category climb. Greg van Avermaet has a 6:36 lead, but I do not expect him to be in yellow when the Tour leaves the Pyrenees. From Julian Alaphilippe on second, down to unlucky Richie Porte on 23., it is 1:51. The GC-contenders will have to show their cards, and I expect some attacks on today’s stage.

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Pau is one of the most visited cities in Tour de France. So the wines from the area around Pau are wines we taste almost every year. In Pau there is a park Le Tour des Géants, where there is a column for each winner of Tour de France. Lance Armstrong still has his columns, but it is written that his victories has been taken away. I think the stage starts here, but I am not sure. When I visited Pau earlier this year, they were preparing for a veteran race car event, and apart from Le Tour des Géants, there was nothing telling about Tour de France.

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One of the more famous wine districts close to Pau is Jurançon. This time, the stage out of Pau does not go through Jurançon. But we will stop in Jurançon before we approach the moiuntains.

Jurançon is a landscape with hills and valleys, going norht-south. The vine ies grown on the hillsieds. As far as I know, the vine were inroduced to this area from Spain, by pilgrims returing from Santiago de Compostella. The area benefits from warm and dry foehn winds from Spain. Add sun, and you get grapes with high sugar, particularly the late harvested grapes. It should be no surprise that they produce sweet dessert wines.

In Jurançon they have been producing wine for a long time. If I remember the history correct, it was pilgrims on their way home from Santiago de Compostella who carried with them vines from Spain, that was planted in this and other areas. The pilgrims have played an important role in spreading wine in Europe. Wine form this area is mentioned in texts from 998. It was here that the term cru was used for the first time to classify wine, in the 14th century.

They are producing two types of wine, both white. One is Le Jurançon which is sweet, and the other one is Le Juran­con Sec, which is dry, as the name indicateds. They are made from the grapes petit and gros man­seng, and petit courbu. The grapes for the best Le Jurançon are late harvested, often as late as November or December, which give over ripe grapes with a lot ov sugar.

I include two Jurançon-wines that I bought another year whe Tour de France has been in this area. They are both made by Urou­lat.

At the start of today’s stage, we can find a lot of good wine. But when we enter the mountain, we have to rely on the wines we are bringing with us form the start.

Jurançon is to a large extent overlapping with Béarn, but Béarn also includes areas north -east of Pau. Béarn is generally more known for the sauce béarnaise than for wine. But we stick to the wine. The grapes used are the grapes known from Jurançon and from the area Madiran, that we are not visiting this year. These are the shite petit and gros manseng, courbu, sauvignon, lauzet and carmalet. In addition, they use the rare grape Moncade. For red, Tannat is used.

On this stage, the riders will pass through the town Lourdes, known as the Disneyland of the Catholic Cuhurch. The water in the local source is said to have miraculous effect. I was there a few years ago, and I find it grotesque to see how sick people are comming in a desperate hope of being healed. In other town, there are bike lanes. In Lourdes, there are sparate wheel chair lanes for people to be pushed to the miraculous source. I have a box of peppermint sweets made with holy water from this spring. But if I have a cold, they are of no more help than anything else.

Supersticious, and particularly supersticious catholic riders may fill up their bottles with some miracle water from Lourdes. I do not think this will be regarded as doping.

To my knowledge, El Diablo has retired, so the riders do not have to do as the catholic and supersticious Italian rider Gigi, in the some years old version of the French cycling comic Le Tour de France:

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I had planned to cross some of these mountain passes when we were in this area in May, but in car, not on a bike. But the roads were still closed due to snow.

Tour de France 2016

Tour de France
Giro d'Italia

 

Giro d'Italia

 

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