Wine and some other drinks of Tour de France 2016. Stage 12: Montpellier — Mont Ventoux

Those who had betted on Chris Froome and Peter Sagan sprinting each others for a stage win on a stage where everyone expected a bunch sprint, would have gotten high odds.

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This year, Chris Froomehas proved himself as a complete rider. We knew he could climb. We also know that he can do good time trial. This year he has also shown that he can win on descents, and that he can sprint. I think many of the GC-contenders are better sprinters than we usualle see. They are racing to win the tour, not to win stages. Then it does not really make sense to take the risk of competing in a bunch sprint. But why the other temas could let a break away with Chris Froome and Peter Sagen, with one helper each, go 15 km before the finish, I do not understand. Maybe they did not have the power to go after them?

So to today’s stage. This is the 14th of July, the French National Day. This is the stage every French rider is dreaming of winning. I expect to see some attacs from Thibaut Pinot today.

Now we know that there will not be a top finish at Mont Ventoux. The wind has been blowing hard, and the weather forcast says even stronger winds today. Not only will it be very hard for the riders, but the organizers will also have technical problem in this weather conditions. The finish will be at Chalet Renard, where the road comes out of the wood. At talked with former pro cyclist and Tour de France stage winner, Dag Otto Lauritzen, in Montpellier. In his opinion, the hardest part of Mont Ventoux is the part up tu Chalet. But when shortened by 6 km, the climb will be shorter, thus not as hard.

I guess that many parked their campers along the road up to Mont Ventoux several days ago. They have been sitting there, waiting for the riders that will not come. I am sure many of them are disappointed by the decision.

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In Montpellier, the vineyards go into the city. Even though the stage does noe pass directly by it, I start with Château Flaugergues. It is really in the city. If you don’t mind walking, I will say it is within walking distance from the city cnetre. Or it is at least not far away if you use one of the City bikes. Or you can take Tramway no 1 to the shopping centre Odysseum, from where it is only a short distance.

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They have a nice location, a beuatyful garden and good wine. Could we ask for more?

We are still in Gres de Montpellier, as we were at the end of yestareday’s stage. Within this area, we have the area Mejanelle east of Montpellier. Some of the wines from Château de Flaugergues are classified as AOP Mejanelle.

The stage continues in the direction of Sommieres. On thir way there, the riders pass between Saint-Drézery and Saint-Christol. To be honest, it seems to go through Saint-Christol, but I include both.

In Saint-Drézery is one of my favourites: Château Puech Haut. They have good wines, and it is a very nice place to visit. What more cout we hope for from a wine producer? The history of Château Puech-Haut resembles the histories of many other good producers.  Entrepreneurship. Gérard Bru came from business. After his company was aquired by a larger company, he bought this property. There was no wineprocution there at this time. But he was convinced that it was very well suited for wine production, and the history has proven him right.

Their main product is red wine, and Languedoc is first and foremost a red wine region. But this time I will focus on white wine. It was from their white wines I discovered Château Puech Haut. I probably got it recommended at a restaurant, but I do not remember my first encounter with this wine. I liked it, and it was different form much of the other whie wines we are drinking.

Thir white wines are to a large extent made form the grapes Roussanne and Marsanne, which are two aromatic grapes producing aromatic wines. I like aromatic white wines. Try some white wines made from these grapes, as an alternative to Riesling, Chadonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and all the other common whtie wine grapes. Château Puech Haut is a good place to start.

Château Puech Haut have two main serieses of wines: Prestige and Tête de Belier. Tête de Belier is a ram’s head, which is the wine’s symbol. A ram’s head in limestone were found in the soil when they started working it. Of these two series, Tête de Belier is the better and more expensive. In addition to the wines mentioned, they also produce some other wines.

Saint-Christol is a bit to the south of today’s stage. It is a rocky area, that also benefits form cooling winds from the ocean. They mainly produce red wine from Mourvèdre.

In my opinion, one shall alway serve water with wine, with or without bubble. We drink wine for the taste, water for the thirst. Today, it should be water with bubbles, to be more specifig: Perrier. Not long after the riders have passed Somières, they are passing through Vergèze, where the source of Perriers, and also their botteling facility is located.

About here, we come into the wine district Costières de Nîmes. It is located where Languedoc meets Rhône. It is a bit unclear it this wine should be classified as Languedoc or Rhône. In some publications, for instance Grand Atlas des Vignoble de France, it is placed under Languedoc. Other will say it is Rhône. Some years ago, Languedoc wines had a rather bad reputation. Maybe they moved these wines to Rhône, to get it into the more respected classification Rhône.

A lot have changed since this time. Languedoc has developed, and the producers prioritize quality. We can still get good quality wines from Languedoc at reasonable prices.

Unfortunately, many wine journalists still stick to old reputation. I think many of them just continue this, without investing the time necessary to learn more about Languedoc wines.

Today, Languedoc is France’s most dynamic wine regions, with many young, educated and ambitious producers. As I told yesterday, I was recently at a winemaker’s dinner with the owner of Domaines Paul Mas, Jean-Claude Mas. They are producing wine many places, including Costieres de Nîmes. We were served a very good Costieres de Nîmes. I asked him if he thought of Costiere de Nîmes as Languedoc or Rhône. Without hesitation, he said: It is Languedoc.

But the producers’ banners clearly states: Vallée du Rhône.

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Before I leave this: The wine is the same if we call it Languedoc or Rhône. But the classification has practical implications when we are searching for the wine or information about the wine. Nevertheless, it is from where Languedoc meets Rhône. Wines from Costiéres de Nîmes cannot be sold as Côte du Rhone, making it in that sense different from most other wines from Vallée du Rhône.

I read one place that wine districts in Rhône are protected from the winds from the sea, byt the Alpilles, small mountains or hills going east – west across the southern part of the Rhône valley.

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To be honest, I do not get the point here. In the southern part of Rhône, it can be hot. I would think that some cooling wind from the sea will be to the benefit of the wines. In the winter, the ocean winds are mild, at least milder than the cold Mistral wind that comes down the Rhône Valley, maily in the winter and spring.

The stages goes through Beaucaire, where it crosses the Rhône river over to Tarascon.

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A bit further into Provence, we come to the wine district Luberon, shortly after the intermediary spirnt. The border is the river Durance. Here they are producing mainly red wine in the mediterreainian style. But Luberon is one of the districts in southern Rhône where they produce a fairly large proportion of white wines, from the grapes Grenache blanc, Clairette, Vermentino and Rousanne.

Here the stage turns north to Ventoux, at the foot of Mont Ventoux. 85% of the production is red wine. They also produce som eroosé and some whithe wins that have been said to be secret. For more information, see Decanter travel guide: Ventoux. I think Venoutx should be the wine of the day.

But having said that, this is the 14th of July, France’s national day, Regardless of where we are, I think Champagne is a proper wine for this day.

Tour de France 2016

Tour de France
Giro d'Italia

 

Giro d'Italia

 

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