Wine and some other drinks of Tour de France 2016. Stage 19: Albertville — Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc

Antoher demonstration of power from Chris Froome. He has a strong team. But in the time trials, it is everyone on their own.

Another hard alpine stage, with mountain top finish. It is rather short (146 km). A short stage with this profile, where much is at stake, can bring a lot of action. And it can be a very hard challenge for the sprinters finishe within the time limit. There are one off category, top finish on a first category. Today I expect that those who are behind Chris Froome will attack each other and fight for a podium place in Paris. Chris Froome and Sky will control the situation.


Wine it not what first comes to our minds when thinking of the Alps. But we will find something to drink to today’s stage, even if we have to get a bit away from the actual stage. The stage starts in Albertville, and from there northwest, into the mountains. The riders start with a non classified climb ut to Collet de Tamié, at 960 meter. I find it a bit surprising that it is not classified. Looking at the stage profile, it seems that it should qualify for a second category classification. But I have never been riding this climb, so I do not really know.

If we want wine, we cannot follow the riders into the mountains. We have to go down  la vallée du Grésivaudan, in the southwest direction. Here we can find wine, usually grown in the south facing slopes on the hillsides.

We will have wine from the wine region Savoie.


The map below shows the part of Savoie that we will vist, which is far from all. Albertville is a bit further up the valley to the right.

In ea article om Savoie the French wine magazine La Revue du Vins de France said that Savoie is one of the more difficult regions to understand for a beginner. It is complicated with many grapes and crus.  There are four AOP-classifications, 23  crus and 23 grape varieties. The production is small, the distribution is not good, and  the best wines are almost secret.

We first come into the wine district Combe de Savoie. As so many wine areas in the mountains, this is a south, or rathter southeast facing slope that gets a lot of sun. If we continue a litle bit further down the valley, we come to Cluse de Chambéry.

In Combe de Savoie they mainly produce red wine from the grape  Mondeuse. It is a local grape that gives good results here. La Revue du Vins de France calls this area La terre des grands rouges, the terrain of the great reds.

There are five crus in Combe de Savoie.  But we first come into areas classified as  Roussette de Savoie and Vin de Savoie. Roussette is a white grape, and if I have got it right, Rousette de Savoie as well as Vin de Savoie can be produced in all classified areas. There are four crus that can ad the name of the commune after the main classification. The first is Saint-Jean-de-la-Porte, where they mainly produce red wine from Mondeuse. The next is Cruet, where they mainly make white wine from Jaquère, Chardonnay and Roussette. But they also make red wine from Mondeuse and Gamay. Then it is Arbin, which seems to be the best area for red wine. Agan, Mondeuse is the dominating grape. The last is Montmelian. Here they grow Jaquère and Roussette. But the urbanisation has eaten much of the vineyards.

If we continue down the valley, we come to Cluse de Chambéry. Cluse de Chambéry is divided into six crus.

Chignin is regarded as the wine capital of Savoie. It is not the quantity, but the quality that has given Chignin this position. The first Savoie wine I tasted, was a Chignin. It gave me associations to fresh mountains.

Cru Chignin-Bergeron as the best in the area. But there is only a little production, abuot 315 hl white wine per year, which should be a little less than 50.000 bottles.

North of Chignin is Cru Saint-Jeoire-Prieuré. It is 20 ha,  producing 460 hl a little less than 70.000 bottles a year.

Even further north is Cru Monterminod, which is even smaller, that produces 150 hl or 22.500 bottles per year. This wine is very sought after.

A bit further west are two larger areas, Cru Apremont og Cru Abymes, where they produce 26.000 and 20.000 hl per year.

For comparision, there are produced 2,1 mill hl of champagne og 6,8 mill hl Bordeaux-wine per year.

The wine is not easy to find. Most of it is consumed locally, to a large extent of tourists. I find in particurlar the white wines from Savoie to be underestimated. Taste them if you get a chance.

As the finsh town is called Saint-Gervais de Mont Blanc, and the stage is described as around the Mont Blanc, I finish off with some beer. Brasserie Mont Blanc has been in existence for 180 years. When brewing beer, it cannot be to warm. The beer that is calles Saisson, which is brewed by many Belgium and now other breweries, was a beer that was brewed in the spring when it was still cool enough to brew beer, and was brewed to be kept until the autumn, when the temperature dropped and it was again possible to brew beer. Here, at the foot of Mont Blanc, they used ice from the mountains to keep their brew ceallars cool.

WIMG_9071_DxOThe brewery is located in Chambery, a bit away from today’s staged. But the water used when brewing the beer, comes from the mountains.  We can start with their La Blonde. As the name sasy, it is a blonde, an overfermented ale, light in colour.  It is a light and fresh beer, easy to drink. It has a note of citrus, and gave me associations to wild strawberries. Thr first time I tasted it, I liked it very well, but I do not have clear memories of the tase. After having been drinking it a few times, I back off a little bit.  I find a bit too much on the sweet side, and would have liked to have some more bitterness..

WIMG_9091_DxOThe next is La Rousse. This is a copper coloured beer with taste of fruit and caramel. I like this beer.

Their La Blanche is a light wheat beer. I find it a good and refreshing bière blanche. But I have to admit that white beer is not my favourite type of beer.

WIMG_0426_DxOTHen there are some more special beers: La Violette and La Verte.

La Violette is a blonde, but with added viols and lingonberries. It did not get a place among my favourteis. It is a kind of fruit beer, but not as refreshing as for instance the Belgian lambic beers. As a refreshing summer drink I like  Lindemann’s lambic-beer with apple or raspberries, even though they do not really taste as beer.

La Verte (the Green) is a rather strange brew. It is made with junipher, and I do not know the process. The first time I found it in a store, it looked so strange that I had to buy it. A green beer! ONe can argue whether this is a beer, or something else. But I do not find that very important.

I sometimes buy strange beers etc, just out of curiosity, I am prepared for it being more interesting than good. A few times, I have tasted it, and poured out the rest. But I have learned that one has to give these strange brews a second chance. I open a bottle, and expect some kind of a beer. When it does not really taste like beer, there is a mismatch between the taste and the expectaions, and the result is not good. When knowing that it is not really a beer, at least not a kind of beer that I am used to, I can taste it with an open mind. And sometimes I realise that it is actually good. I have bought La Verte a few times after the initial tasting. To be honest, I prefer more traditional beer. But give it a try, and keep your mind open, if you find it.

Tour de France 2016

Tour de France
Giro d'Italia


Giro d'Italia


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