Wine and some other drinks of Tour de France 2016. Stage 11: Carcassonne — Montpellier

Being Norwegian, I was of course hoping for Edvald Boasson Hagen yesterday.

Today is a another flat stage. The Montpellier finishes tend to be sprints. I will get on my bike and go into Montpellier to se the finish.

TdF2016_11Languedoc is my region i France. It is the region with the highest production of wine, meaning that we have no problem finding wines. The challenge is which ones to choose. It is an area that hade a reputation for for producing large quantities of uninteresting wine. Quantity had priority over quality. This is no longer the case. Today we find wines of high quality, still at favourable prices. Languedoc is the most dynamic, and one of the more interesting wine regions in France.

We start in the medieval town Carcassonne, which is one of the places one have to visit in this area. Carcassonne is strategically located where the passage between the Atlantic and the Mediteranian is most narrow.  They collected toll on all the goods that were passing through.

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We stick to wine, despite many interesting detours into other subjects. From Carcassonne, the stage goes in the direction north-east.

The stage is following the fault along Montagne Noir, the south-western part of Massif Central. We are comming into the wine district Minerve or Minervois, a 60 km long and 20 km wide south facing amphi, stretching from Carcassonne  in the west, to Narbonne in the east. It is located between 50 to 350 meter above sea level. It is mainly a district for red wines, but some whites are also produced.

The district is divided into six subdistricts, in addition to  Minervois-La Liverne, which has its own AOP classification. The first sub-district, after having left Carcassonne, is Le Clamoux. It is rater low, get a lot of sun and has a clear Meidterrainian charater. Dette ligger ganske lavt, They mainly produce Grenache and Carignan.

Located a little closer to the mountains (Montagne Noir) is Les Côtes Noire. The stage goes mainly between Le Clamoux and Les Côtes Noir. The district have the advantage of higher altitude, and is influenced by the air from the Atlantic ocean, comming between the Pyrenees and Massif Central. The soil has a lot of slate. The dominating grapes are Syrah and Grenache. But they also grow the white/green grapes Marsanne og Rousanne.

From here, we continue into Minervois-La Liverne. This is the heart of Monervois, in the ara called Le Petit Causse, at the foothill of Montagne Noir.  They produce mainly Carignan, but also Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. The wines are elegant, with a clear mediterranian character. They also procue white wine, from the grapes Bourboulenc, Marsanne, Roussanne and Grenache blanc.

Further to the east is Le Causse. Causse is the local neme of the limestone plateus that are common in this region.  Here they mainly produce Grenache, Carignan and Syrah. But it is also the area for the sweet Muscat-de-Saint-Jean de Minervois. It is located higher than the other areas in the region producing Muscat wines, whigh gives longer time for ripening, and more complex wines.

The village Minerve, is one of the more beautifful villages in France. It is located on a cliff, at the confluence of two rivers. It is a place to visit if you are in this part of France.  In their Tour de France issue, the French cycling magazine “Vélo Magazine” asked the cyclist Clément Koretzky, who is form the region, where he would prefer to be as a spectator to this stage, and he said Minerve.

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The stage does not go through the two lower areas ofi Minervois, L’Argent Double and Les Serres, meaning that we will not cover them this time.

There is no official classification of producers or vineyards into crus within the AOP or AOP-village classifications in Languedoc. But many have tried to set up lists of “Grand Crus”.  La Revue du Vin de France has recently made a list of first, second and third crus. THey placed the Minervois producer Domaine Jean-Baptiste Senat in third cru. In an earlier tasitng, they were prixing  L’Oustal Blanc, in particular their white Prima Donna.

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From Minervois we continue into Saint-Chinian.

The riders are passing on the road to the left, shortly after having done the second and latest climb at this stage (fourth category). The picture is from mid April, and the vines will have grown a lot since that time.

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La Revue du Vin de France emphesize Domaine Yannick Pelletier in their nominations of Grand crus from 2011. When they are dividing producers into three crus, Mas Champart is placed in second cru. Other producers mentioned are Domaine Boire La Vitarelle, Domaine les Éminades og Domaine Canet-Valette.

Yannick Pelletier represents some of what makes Langeudoc a dynamic and interesting region. After having studied wine production at the University, he bought several hectars of vineyard at the age of 29. He produced his first wine when he was 30. Young and ambitious people can still buy vineyards or land that can be converted to vineyards at a not too high price, and can produce good wines. Yannick Pelletier is not the only one who have done this, but not all will achieve as good results as him.

View towards the town Saint-Chinian.

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After Saint Chinian, the stage goes in the direction of the sea. We make our next drinking break in Pezenas, where there is an intermediary sprint.

Pezenas is the town of the playwright Molières. Molière was born in Paris. But he travelled with a small theatrical troup, called ” l’Illustre Théâtre” in Languedoc. In Pzeneas they were well received, and they stayed there for a long time. The picture below is from Molière’s theater in Pezanas.

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But we cannot stay at the theater for a long time, when there are so much wine to choose from..

In their nomination  Les Grandes Crus du Languedoc from 2011,  La Revue du Vin de France incluedes four producers from Pezenas:

  • Domaine la Garance
  • Domaine les Aurelles. When they are dividing the producers into three crus, these are placed in  second cru.
  • Prieuré Saint-Jean de Béban.
  • Domaine le Conete des Floris Carbonifère

The riders continue through Montagnac. Here we find the producer  Paul Mas. Paul Mas is a large producer, with vineyards many places in Languedoc, including Pezenas. In addition to wines sold under the label Paul Mas, they produce the series Arrogant Frog. They also produce wine in Costieres de Nîmes, which we will return to tomorrow. I include Paul Mas because they produce a wide variety of wines in several districts in Languedaoc, and because I hade the pleasure of meeting the owner, Jean-Claude Mas at a winemaker’s dinner in Oslo not too long ago, where we could taste many of their wines.

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Despite the problem in this region is a luxurious problem of too much interesting wine, and what not to choose  along the stage, I will make a little detour, 7 km to the north-east. Here we find Domaine Peyre Rose. It is classified in second cru by  La Revue du Vin de France’. Domaine Peyre Rose is included in almost any list of the best wines from Languedoc. It is one of many wineproducers in the region run by a woman. The wineproducing women have their own association, Vinifilles, meaning the WIne Girls.

But not all wine girls are members, among them Marlène Soria, the owner of Domaine Peyre Rose. They make excellent wines. But I also like the story behind  Domaine Peyre Rose. Marlène Soria was real estate agent. She had the property on sale for a client. She liked it very well, and ended up buing it herself. She started wine procution mainly as a hobby, producing wine for herself, her family and friends. But rumours about her wines were spreading. She left the real estate trade, and started wine production for full time. Unfortunatley, they do not welcome visitors on a regular basis. Domaine Peyre Rose is rather high on the list of wine producers I would like to visit.

Back to the stage. The riders continues close to Abbaye de Valmagne. This is a monastry from 1257. If I have got it right, the monastry is still in operation as a monastry. But the reason for including it here, is taht in this building, classified as an historical monument, they produce wine and beer, and there is a restaurant. There are many reasons to make a stop here.

We are now only 35 km from the finish. The stages into Montpellier have usualle ended as mass sprints, and it is time for the sptingers and their teams to find their positions in the peloton. In Montpellier, the vineyards goes almost to the city limits. There are vineyards within walking distance from the stage finish.

We are comming into the wine district called Gres de Montpellier, which surrounds Montpellier. It means something like the gravel or stones of Montpellier. It is an area at low altitude, where it can be hot, but that also often have a cooling wind from the sea. The last part before the finish is Saint-Georges d’Orques. I am not quite sure about the meaning of the name, but the word “Orques” reminds med o “Lord of the Rings”.

I finish this off with a picture from one of the last vineyard the riders will pass through, where there is a large facility producing (burning and packaging) coffe, in the middle of the vineyard. Wine and then coffe, can be a good way to finish the day.

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Wine and some other drinks of Tour de France 2016. Stage 10: Escaldes-Engordany — Revel

I liked the victory of Tom Dumoulin. After crashing out in the snow on one of the final stages in Giro d’Italia, he deserved this. Alberto Contador out, this is a loss for the race. And the position is almost unchanged among the GC-contenders.

Today we start in Andorra and end in Revel. The riders are going down from the Pyrenees. There is no slow warm upafter the rest day. The riders go directly into a first category climb. But after 24 km, it is mainly down, down and down for 170 km. It does not make very much sense to attack up up the first climb, as it will be very hard to keep the the lead. The second half of the stage is a little bit up and down. It is a profile and a part of the race where some riders who are not a threat to anyone in the main competitions, may break away. There is a third catogory climb 7 km from the finish, which may be a bit too hard for the typical sprinters, meaning that the sprinters’ teams will not use much energy to catch a breakaway.

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When today’s stage startes, I will be at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, rahter jet lagged, after having been flying in from Washington. But I hope to be “home” in La Grande Motte in time to see the finish.

I have never thougt of Andorra as a wine country, and it is not. But when the Tour is in Andorra, I have to do some research. They are marketing wine tourism i Andorra. Four producers ar mentioned, and they are all located in the south facing slopes the riders will climb on their way out of Andorra. I have never tasted these wines, and know nothing about them. But the next time I am in Andorra, I will try to find some bottles. They are probably very difficult to find outside of Andorra.

Those who have not done all their shopping on the rest day, will get a new chance today, as there is a large shopping centre just before the riders come to the French border.

When we are comming down from the mountains, it is possible to find more wine. The stage is passing through Ariège, which is not a very intersting wine district. The Tour passes through here almost every year to or from the Pyrenees.

I was in Ariége in May. We stayed overnight in Foix. I tried to find local wine. It was not very easy. The hotel we stayed in, had a good restaurant. We had local trout, that was very good. We would of course have white wine. The restaurant had  local red wine, but not local white. The most local whites were either Jurancon sec and Gaillac. As we were comming from Pau, where we had Jurancon sec,  our choice was Caillac.

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WIMG_4380_DxOWhen a good restaurant does not have a selection of local wines, it tells me that they are not very proud of their wine. I bought a few bottles in a store selling regional specialities. To be honest: These wines are not very exiting. The next time I am in Ariège I will again search for local wines. But I will not search for these wines outside of the region.

The stages passes through Mirepoix. It is a nice medieval town, with well preserved medieval houses around a square. If you happen to be in the area, it is a town worth visiting.

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The stage is passing a bit to the west of Carcassonne, before finishing in Revel. We are now in Languedoc. We pass thorough Malpère before we are crossing Canal du Midi, west of Carcassone, and come into Cabardès after having passed it. If we should be really precise, the stage is passing a bit to the west of these wine districts.

The name Mal­père stems from the occitan name male peyre (bad stone), which is a local sand stone.

Malpère is the westernmost wine district in Languecdoc. Here east meets west: The  “Mediterranian” and the “Atlan­tic”. It is of course not the oceans that meet, we are after all well into the country. But the district is influenced both by the Mediterranien and the  Atlantic climat. They are growing the typical Mediterrainan grapes, as well as grapes well known from Atlantic districs like Bordeaux. The district got AOC-sta­tus in 2007, after having had VDQS-sta­tus since 1983. The riders may feel the Atlantic wind when they are crossing these areas. Strong winds are often an issue here.

More than 90% of the production is red wine, made from the grapes Merlot, Cot (Malbec) and Cinsaut. Merlot is more than 50% of the production.

The rest of the wine is rosé, made from Cincault, Grenache and Lladoner pleut. These are mediterrainian grapes. But rosé is more a mediterranian than atlantic wine. For more, see Hachette guide til Malpère.

Malpère is located to the far west on the map below. Cabardès,is just to the north of Malpére.

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Cabardés is also influenced by the Atlantic. In Cabardès they are producing both the tpyical mediterranian  grapes such as  grenache and syrah, and the  “Bordeaux-grapes” merlot and cabernet-sauvignon. I The wines often combine the body of the Mediterraian and the elegance of Aquitaine.

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Wine and some other drinks of Tour de France 2016. Stage 9: Vielha Val d’Aran — Andorre Arcalis

Christ Froome as stage winner and in yellow, maybe a bit earlier thatn i had planndet. We are at the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. We start in Spain and end in Andorra. Today iare more mountains, with a top finish at a high category climb in Anodorra. There are a little more then tow minutes between leading Chris Froome and Richie Porte as no 18, and another minute down to Alberto Contador. We have to expect many attacks during today’s stage.

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We are now on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees, and end in Andorre.

The French and the Spanish side of the Pyrenees are quite different. On the Spanish side, it comes warm and dry air from the south.  As mentioned yesterday, this results in a foehn wind in the area around Pau.

On the French side, the southern part of Massif Central (Montagne Noir) and the Pyrenees constitutes a tract, which concentrates the often cool and humid air from the Atlantic Ocean.  When this air gets into the trackt, it is pressed upward. The air cools down, and if you have not forgotten everything from the physics classes, you know that when the air cools down, it cannot holde as much humidity as warm air. The humidity condences, and we get rain and fog. My impression is that there is a lot of fog and rain on the French side of the Pyrenees.

I think this sattellite photo from NASA illustrates the topography and the tract between the Massif Central and the Pyrenees.

I have to admit that I do not know Spanish wine very well. We are pretty high up in the mountains, away from the most well known Spanish wine districts. The closest wine district seems to be  Coster del segre. But if I interpret the maps correctly, the stage goes north of at least the important parts of this district.

According to  Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, the grape  Granacha (which I usually designate with the French name  Grenache, despite it being an originally Spanish grape) and Macabeo a good potential in this area. But they are mainly growing Tempranillo and international grape varieties.

The capital of Andorra, Andorra la Vella, gives the impression of being a huge duty free store. As a small country between two large countries, it can live with low taxation, as long as people from other countries are spending a lot of money and pumping up the tax basis. After the rest of the Western world have imposted restriction on smoking and advertising of tobacco, Andorra is marketing and selling cigarettes from palls. At least, they did the last time I visited the country in 2010. If my memory is correct we were offered free samples of cigarettes.

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To be honest, I do not find Andorra la Vella a very exiting place to visit. But the Pyrenees are high and steep, and difficult to cross. Andorra is in a pass where it is possible to cross the Pyrenees. When I have been in Andorra, it has mainly been because it is one of few routes between Spain and France. But the first time I was there, it was more out of curiosity. I am fascinatied my these micro countries. In a Europe where the big countries have been more or less constantly at war with each others for several hundreds years, how have these micro countries survived withoug being destroyed and absorbed by the bigger countries?

Andorra has survived as a state thanks to its strategic location. Neither Spain nor France could accept that Andorra should be part of the other country. It was established as a coprincipate, governed by two princes, one being the Bishop of Urgell in Spain, the other the President of France. I once read that a night with the most beautyful girl in Andorra was part of the remuneration to the two princes. If this is still upheld, I do not know. Some years ago, a sort of democracy was was intorduced in Andorra. But I do not know to much of its constitution.

Many people are going on day trips from Spain or France to Andorra for shopping. The Custom control when entring Spain or France is rather strict. If you are not Spanish or French, the custom officers are not very interested. But you have to que up with all the others before you get to be asked by the custom officer. If you travel this time of the year, which is the season for summer vaccation in Norway, it is very out of season in Andorra. If you are travelling between France and Spain passint through Andorra, you can get good hotels at a very low price. If we go this way, we travel to Andorra in the afternoon, stay over night there, moving out the next morning. Then we avoid the long ques.

In addition to duty free shopping, “private banking” is an important business in Andorra. It is located in a pass, with steep hills on both sides, making it a place for alpine skiing.

The picture below is form where today’s stage ends: At Arcalis.

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It is rest day after this stage. I am not sure that I will find Andorra the most interesting place for a rest day. We will have a rest day too.

I will spend the rest day driving to the Washington Dulles International Airport, and fly back to France in the afternoon. I hope I will be in our flat in France in time to see the final part of the next stage.

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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.

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Wine and some other drinks of Tour de France 2016. Stage 7: L’Isle-Jourdain — Lac de Payolle

Another sprint, and another victory for Mark Cavendish yesterday, and he is now in green. But for the next few days, the sprinters will have to dake the back seat, in the grupetto. Now we are approaching the Pyrenees, and the riders will meet one of the classic Pyrenee mountain passes, Col d’Aspin.

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Yesterday, I was asked if I am cycling these routes. No, I am not. For a 61 year old recreational cyclist. To ride all the stages of the grand tours would be impossible for me, and probably impossible for anyone if they should search for and sample wines along the ride.  This is a virtual tour. I start this in october, when the routes for both Giro d’Italia and Tour de France are published. A practical issue here: Giro d’Italia publishes all the stages, with maps in october. Tour de France publishes only the start and finish towns, as well as a more general overview of the route. The maps for the stages are published in beginning of June, leaving little time to research tha details of the stages.

Then I start to collect information, try to find wines from the areas the stages will go through. But when I am the areas where the Tour de France riders will be cycling, I try to find interesting wines and beers, for upcomming stages. I spend quite a lot of time in France each year, mainly in Languedoc, where we have a flat. But we do travel around a bit. But back to today’s stage.

When we are approaching the mountains, it is always difficult to find interesting wines. The stage starts a bit west of Toulouse. But we covered the wines worth mentioning from this area yesterday, and we will not repeat that. When there are no interseting wines to be found, the plan B is to look for beer. Here we have to stick to plan B.

Honestly, it is difficult to find beers too. There is a rich tradition for brewing beer in Northern France and in North East. The trend of microbreweries is prominent in France too. But many of them do only have local distribution, menaning that they are hard to find when you are not there.

I have found two breweries  One is  Bière Quin te Vas in Saint pe de Bigorre,  which is actually closer to tomorrow’s stage than today’s. But tomorrow we will find wine, so we take the beers today. When I read about their Ambrée at the website Paradis Biere, it does not seem very promising.

Another brewerie is Brasserie Artisanale des Pyrénées, located a little to the east of where the riders will start their climb up to Col d’Aspin. But I have not been able to find out much about this brewery, neither a website nor a review of their beers.

Today the riders will meet the first of the classic Pyrenee climbs: Col d’Aspin. I include a picture of a cyclist who is looking at the scenery, after having done the climb.

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Here we are in the finishing area. The sign says that you need to have a license to fish in Lac de Payeolle, wchich is just to the left of the picture

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Wine and some other drinks of Tour de France 2016. Stage 6: Arpajon-sur-Cère — Montauban

I was a bit surprised when the GC-teams would let a break away with a rider as good as Greg van Avermat get as much lead as they got. Today the riders are going down from Massif Central. There are some cat 3 and 4 climbs, but it goes more down and up, and the final par is flat. I will expect a sprint, and that Greg van Avermat will keep the yellom jersey.

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We have to deviate from today’s stage to find interesing wines. If we go straight west from the intermeiary sprint, and straight north from the finish, the two lines will meet in Cahors. Cahors is known for their full boidied red wines., mainly made from Malbec, locally called  Cot. Cahors is situated at the river Lot, which flows into Garonne, which flows out in the sea at Bordeaux.

Cahors is one of many wine districts that have been overshadowed by Bordeaux. If we go a few houndred years years back in time, Bordeaux was not a region for production of quality wine. Before the swampy areas were drained, they produced a rather thin and light bodied wine. But as a big harbour citiy, located where bot Garonne and Dordogne fow out into the sea, Bordeaux had a very stratedic location.  Wines from wine districts along thses rivers, and side rivers, were transported on the rivers and shipped out from Bordeaux. At this time, the place of origin was not as important, and was not controlled as strict as it is today. The more full bodied wines from Cahors and other areas, were blended with Bordeaux wines to improve the wines. And it was sold as Bordeaux wine. Bordeaux would not ship wine form other regions before they had sold there own. Bordeaux got known for their wine, paricularly in the important English market.

The finishing town Montauban is located a bit to the north of Toulouse. To the soulh of Montauban, we find the wine districts  Fronton, Lavilledieu and Saint-Sardos.

In Fronton they produce a good red wine form the Negrette. It is a grape low on tannins with low acidity. It gives a wine that should be drunk young. But it is prone to oxydasation, and cannot be stored for long time. Some call it the  Beaujolais of Toulouse.

North West from Fronton, we find Lavilledieu. The red wines from here are made from a large variety of grapes, and no grape is allowed to dominate the blend. This means that it is difficult to identify a carachter typical for the wines from this area. .

Saint Sardos is west of Fronton. Here, wine has been produced for a long tine. It is documented wine production in this area since the foundation of the abbey Grandsleve in 1114. The production is red and rosé wines. The most imprtant grapes are Syrah an Tannat, supplemented by Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

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Wine and some other drinks of Tour de France 2016. Stage 5: Limoges / Le Lioran

I had not expected Marcel Kittel to win yesterday. But as always: Peter Sagan was up there, collecting points for the green jersey. Today the riders will get a taset of what is a head. This stage is a kind of warm up before the mountains. This stage will be too hard for the typical sprinters. But Peter Sagan can be there again, and we Norwegians may hope for Edvald Boasson Hagen.

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The riders will now cross Massif Centrlal, with finish in the ski resort Le Lioran. er Massif Cetral, finishing in the ski resort Le Liorian. Here it is difficult to find interesting wine. When I say it is difficult, I mean exactly that: It is difficult, but it does not mean that it does not exist. But then you have to go there and search for wine, or you may find some interesting wine in a restaurant. I have often discovered good and interesting wines from not well known regions included in wine menus at goot restaurants. But so far, I have not found any wines from the area around today’s stage.

I have also not succeded in finding interesting beer.

Instead, I include som of what is often produced in French mountain areas: Cheese. The chese Cantal is among France’s oldest cheeses. It is said to have been produced since the time av the gauls. It is a semi hard chieese, made from cow milk, and shaped as a cylinder. The cheese resembles Cheddar. In the area where it is produced, they say that it was here the British learned how to produce the cheese that became Cheddar. Correct or not, I do not know.

Some other cheeses from these region worth mentioning, are Saint-Nectaire and Bleue d’Auvergne.

Tour de France 2016

Tour de France
Giro d'Italia

 

Giro d'Italia

 

Wine and some other drinks of Tour de France 2016. Stage 4: Saumur — Limoges

Mark Cavendish is back. But it will be hard for him to keep the green jersey when Peter Sagan will have to give away the yellow.Today’s stage is not a stage for the sprinters. It’s another uphill finish, not unlike the second stage. And Peter Sagan will probably be up there again. If he does not win, he will get points in the competition for the green jersey, something the more typical sprinters will not do. As a Norwegian, I may hoper for Edvald Boasson-Hagen and Alexander Kristoff.

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We will bring wines from the start, when we are still in Loire. We start in Saumur, and can taste some of the red wines from the area. They produce redd wine mainly from Cabernet Franc, but also from Cabernet Suvignon. The best par og the area is in Saumur is Saumur-Champigny. The wine magazine Decanter selected earlier this the bes Cabernet Franc wines from Loire. Two producers from Saumur-Champigny wa on this rather exclusive list: Château de Villeneuve with the win Le Grand Clos 2011, and Château de Targé with the wine Saumur-Champigny 2011.

Continue reading Wine and some other drinks of Tour de France 2016. Stage 4: Saumur — Limoges

Wine and some other drinks of Tour de France 2016. Stage 3: Granville — Angers

I was not a surprise that Peter Sagan won yesterday’s stage. Now he will probably defend the yellow jersey as long as he can. If he escapes accident, no one will take more then 14 seconds on him on today’s stage.

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We could have chosen some more cidre and calvados, and we could probably have found some more beers.. But we are approaching the Loire valley, and finally we can start to look for some interesting wines.

I have to admit that I do not know the wines from the Loire Valley as good as I should. When I am thinking of Loire Wines, it tende to be either Muscadet,  from about where it flows out in the ocean, an excellent wine for sea food in the summer. Or Muscadet and Puilly Fumé from further up the valley. But between these, there are many excellent wines.

We come into the Loire Valley in the district Anjou. I am first thinking of the rosé Cabernet d’Anjou, made from Cabernet Franc. It was popular when I was young. But a half dry rosé, taht is not my favourite today. When I retasted this some years ago, it was clear that it was no longer among my favourites. During the summer, I often drink rosé when I in cooler seasons would have been drinking  red wine. But it shall by dry.

It is always a good idea to start with som sparkling wine. Crémant is sparkling wines from France made with traditional method, with second fermenting in the bottle,  outside Champagen.

Crémant de Loire is usualley made from the grape Chenin Blanc, a grape that is at its best in Loire.

A little to the south-west of the arrival town Angers we find the area Savnnières. It is facing south, on the right bank of the Loire river. This is regarded as the best area for white wines in this part of Loire. Inside this area, we find the two AOP-classified areas Roch-ax-Moines and Coulée-de-Serrat, which are regarded as the best areas in Savenniéres. The wines are made from Chenin blanc. They make dery, semi-dry and sweet wines.  The semi-dry may have to be stored or decades before they are at theri best. The production is small..

As a dessert, we can move a bit further south, to  Coteaux-du-Layon, where we can find some excellent sweet dessert wines. The one held in highest esteem is from Quarts-de-Chaume. These are also wines produced from Chenin Blanc. The wines that are mentioned, proves what Chanin Blanc can offer in this area.

The well known English wine magazine Decanter had recently selected the world’s best wines.   Andre Davy, Domaine de la Roche Moreau, Coteaux du Layon 1er Cru Chaume, were awarded a platinum medal, as Best Sweet Loire over £15.

Tour de France 2016

Tour de France
Giro d'Italia

 

Giro d'Italia

 

Wine and some other drinks of Tour de France 2016. Stage 2: Saint-Lô — Cherbourg-en-Cotentin

We are still in Normandy, in the district Manche. What many of us call The English channel, is La Manche in France. It is unthinkabe that the French should call sea outside the French coast as something like “The English …”.

Mark Cavendish is back on track, winning the first stage and starting in yellow today. But I do not think he will keep it after today’s stage. It is an uphill finish. Not a reali climb, but still too hard for the typical sprinters. And there may be some time differences after this stage.

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Vi can start with a beer today too. Brasserie Eldorado is in Cherbourg. It seems to be a brew pub, but I do not have much information on this brewery or their beers.

Continue reading Wine and some other drinks of Tour de France 2016. Stage 2: Saint-Lô — Cherbourg-en-Cotentin