Wine and some other drinks of Tour de France 2016. Stage 16: Moirans-en-Montagne — Berne

A Colombian winner over Le Grand Colombier, that sounds right to me. But we have not yet seen any serious attack on Chris Froome.

Today’s stage starts in France and ends in Schwitzerland. It is the sprinter’s last chance before Paris. But between two and one kilometer from the finish, there is an ascent of ca 50 meters. It should not be ery hard. One kilometer with a 5% gradient. But for the typical sprinters, this can be a bit too hard at the end of a 209 km stage. They may not be well positioned when it flattens out with one km to go. As a Norwegian, I am hoping that this could be a stage for Alexander Kristoff or Edvald Boasson Hagen. But it can also suit Peter Sagan, and Greg van Avermaet is a name that once again springs to my mind. Or maybe John Degenkolb. And Berne is Fabian Cancellara’s hometown. Maybe he can get some extra speed from being homesick?

TdF2016_16We start in Jura. The wine districts in Jura are in the slopes facing west. Today’s stage goes a bit further to the east. But when the riders are passing Pont-du-Navoy after ca 35 km, just before the stage starts to go up (an unclassified ascent), then they are less than 10 km from the vineyards.

I said yesterday that we would not open any bottles of Jura wine this year. But after having reexamined the stage, I realised that I was a bit too quick when saying that.

The wine area in Jura is streching north-south. It is ca 80 km long, and 2-4 km wide. Map made by DalGobboM¿!i? , CC BY-SA 3.0.

Jura

The stage is closest to at the middel of the winw districts. Wine labeled Côte du Jura and Crémant du Jura in the entire district. But there are also classified districts. It creates a hierarchy with  Côtes-du-Jura as base-AOP, while the three better areas have their own AOP-status. These three are Arbois, Chateau Chalon and L’Etoile. Chateau Chalon and L’Etoil are where the wine district is closest to the stage, with Arbois located further north.

Arbois was the first district that got AOC-status in France, and is the largest of the three appeallations. They produce 70% red and 30% white wine. A Swedish friend of mine has told me that white Arbois is remommended to their Christmas- ande Easter-herring.

In Chateau-Chalon they only produce Vin-Jaune (yellow wine) from the grape Savagnin. This wine shall rest at least six years in oak barrels. They do not fill them up completely. The wine get a layer of flour (I do not know the English Word for this) at the top, protecting it from oxydisation during this storage. The wine can remind of sherry. I have to admit that Vin Jaune is not among my favourties. And neither is sherry.

Vin Jaune is bottled on special bottles called Clavelin that contains 62 cl. The size is chosen to show how much wine that has evaporated during the storage. What you fill a 75 cl bottle as young wine, will only fill a 62 cl bottle matured Vin Jaune. Bresse-chicken and Vin Jaune is a local combination. Personally, I prefer a red, white or rosé with chicken.

Another speciality in Jura is Vin-Paille, which means “straw-wine”. The grapes, that can be savagnin, chardonnay or poulsard, was traditionally spread on mats maed from sraw, and dried indoors. The water evaporates, and the grapes beome almost like rasins, with a very high sugar level. It produces a sweet wine. Today, they use other material than straw for their mats, but apart from that, the process is the same.

In L’Etoile they mainly grow Chardonnay, but also some Savagnin and Poulsard.

Crémant du Jura is a sparkling wine with its own AOP-classification. It can be made in the entire Côte du Jura area, and all five grape varieties can be used. In the white, there must be at least 50% Chardonnay, and in the rosé their must be in total at least 50% Pinot Noir or Poulsard.

The other “wine” with its own AOP-classification is Macvin du Jura. I put wine in brackets, as it is not really a wine. It is a blend of brandy and grape juice, as Pineau de Charentes. I have not tasted this one. But so far, I have not found any type of brandy-juice blend that I have liked.

They produce red wine from a local grape called Poulsard (locally often called Ploussard). It is used in Jura and in Bugey. One also use Trosseau and Pinot Noir for reds. For the whites, they use Chardonnay and Savagnin.

In Jura they also produce the cheese Comté. It is among my favourites, and I eat it almost every day when I am in France. There is an APO-classified Comté, and an industry produced Comté. For AOP-classified Comté there is a requirement that it shall be made from unpasteurised milk  from the cows Mont­bé­li­arde or French Sim­men­tal. It shall have been grassing in specifiedareas in the Jura-mountains, with strict regulations of the nutrition: No silo, a minimum area per cow, the proportion of herbs, etc. And there are rules on production and storing. I usually buy AOP-classified Comté that has been mautured for 18 months.

The stage continues into Switzerland. The riders will be cycling though old smugglers’ areas. The governemnet have thorough the years financed their wars, their luxurious life and other activities, through import (and export) duties, and other taxes. They have protected their domestic production, and hindered strategic products from being exported. A lot of what was highly taxed in France, such as tobacco, spices, clock parts, fabric and other products, were cheaper in Switzerland and smuggled into France in the rough terrain in the Jura mountains. In Franche-Comté they were producing salt, a strategic and sought after product that the French governemnet did not want to be sold out of the coutry. It was smuggled to Switzerland.

But we have to find Swiss wine. 80% of the Swiss wine is produced in the French speaking areas in Switzerland. In this area, Lac Léman stores heat, and stabilises the temeperatre, giving a rather milde climate.  But when I was in Geneva in the beginning of February 2012, the lake did not have this effect.  With -10 degrees centigrades, and a cold an humid wind from the lake, it was freezing cold. As a Norwegian I am used to cold winters. But in Norway, it is always warm indside, which is was not in all building in Geneva these days.  Follow this link to see a picture of what Geneva was like these days. But let us forget cold winter days. In the summer, the lake has a cooling effect. When I was in Geneva a few weeks ago, it was nice and warm.

It is beautyful with vineyards that goes down to the lake, with Mont Blanc in the background.

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The riders will cycle through the mos well know wine district in Switzerland: Neuchatel, meaning new castle. This was the first Swiss wine I heard of and tasted. It is many years ago. I had red that the best choice for a fondue was Neuchatel in the fondue, and Neuchatel in the glasses to drink with the fondue. I had to try this. At this time, my references were rather limited. It was at the time when I had just started to be more interested in the content of the bottles, and not as interested in the price tag as I had been. Som I cannot say if this will give the best fondue or not.

It is said that the wine production in the area started in 998, when  Abbey Bevaix started to produce wine. There are many theories on why they started wine production, but I will not go into them.

The most common grape in the area is Chasselas. It is said that the yield is way too high, meaning that they do not produce a very interesting wine. Most of the wine is consumed locally.

They are producing more and more red wine in Switzerland, mainly form Pinot Noir. But they also produce red wine from Gamay, and from what they call Dôle, which according to Jancis Robinson is a mix of Pinot Noir and Gamay. I do not know much about it, but I have not tasted any intersting versions of this wine. A wine that is said to be the flag ship in Neuchatel is a rosé made from Pinot Noir, called  Oeil-de-Perdix.

As I have said many times, I want ot have local wine when I am in a wine producing area. When in Switzerland, I am drinking Swiss wine or Swiss beer. But I have not yet found a Swiss wine that is worth searching for outside the country. In a way this is OK, as only 2% of the production is exported.  Jancis Robinson writes that there are som small producers producing high quality wine, mainly red wine, but this wine rarely enters the normal market. And I will add: I find the Swiss wines overpriced. You will get better value for money if you buy wine from the surrounding countries: France, Germany, Austria or Italy.

After this stage, the riders will have their second and last, and well deserved rest day. We will take a rest day too. For us, that may mean to get away from the TV and out on the bike.

Tour de France 2016

Tour de France
Giro d'Italia

 

Giro d'Italia

 

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