Wine and some other drinks of Tour de France 2017: Stage 13. Saint-Girons — Foix

Here in France, they are celebrating the third French stage victory, and a French rider in the polka dot jersey. It is better than French riders have been doing for years. Chris Froome is not unbeatable. The question now is if Sky will attack now, or if they will wait till they get to the Alps.

Today is Bastille Day, the French Natinonal Day. This is the day every French rider is dreaming of winning the stage. But for us Norwegians interested in cycyling, July 14 is also an important day. It is 30 years ago today, that Dag Otto Lauritzen as the first Norwegian rider, won a stage in Tour de France, the stage up to Luz Ardiden.

Dag Otto is an interesting case and an interesting personality. He was a policeman and a military parachuter before he became a cyclist. In 1980, at the age 23, he was severly injuried and nearly crippled in a parachute accident. The doctors gave him a 50% chance of being able to walk again after the accident. He took up cycling as retraining after the accident, and realised that he had a talent for cycling. Four years later, in 1984, he won the bronze medal in the Los Angeles olympics. And another three year after that, he won the Tour de France stage. Dag Otto often says that “Nothing is impossible, the impossible just takes more time”. In a way, he is a living proof. And it did not even take him very long to do the impossible. Today he is part of the crew of the Norwegian TV channel that is brodcasting Tour de France, TV2.

But we have to return to today’s stage. On paper, it does not look too hard. It is short, 101 km, with three category 1 climbs. It ends with a 26 km descent to Foix. I do not know how this descent is. But it tends to be hard riding at these kind of stages. The time limit (delay) will be rather short, and some riders may have problems finishing within the time limit.

Ariège is a departement often visited by Tour de France, either on the way into or out of hthe Pyrenees. For us who are searching for someting interesting to drink from the area, lokal beverages from Ariège is a challenge. If we are looking for something appropriate to celebrate the French national day, we have to search other places. Limoux is the closest district that has someting to offer for such an occation.

er et departement som Tour de France ofte er innom på vei til eller fra Pyreneene, og for oss som jakter på interessant, lokalt drikke er Ariège en utfordring. Hvis vi skulle jakte på noe som passer for å feire Frankrikes nasjonaldag, da må vi lete andre steder. Limoux er det nærmeste området som kunne hatt noe å by på til en slik anledning.

The French newpaper Le Figaro has a short overview overVin de Pays de l’Ariège. Here they write that Ariège is well known for its wins. Wine from this district, from the area around Mirepoix, was first mentioned in 971. Ariège wines were well knwon in medieaval times, but is long forgotten. It is a bit strange that they illustrate this overveiw with a map of wine districts in the South West, without Ariège on the map.

Each time the Tour is in this departement, I am searching for information om wines from here. Fraench Wikipedia has some more information. But this is also mostly about a glorious past, about wine growing in Pamiers in 1225, that the wine was popular in England, etc.

It says that there are 60 ha vineyard within the area classified as IGP Ariège, ana that the production in 2009 was 1800 hl, which is not much.

At the end of the 1990s som wine growers wanted to improve the quality of wine from Ariège. They wanted to produce wine from old and alomst forgotten grapes. The Magazine L’Express has an article about four friends who have come together to reestablish wines from Ariège, Quatre amis s’associent pour faire revivre le vin ariégeois. According to the article, they have established subscription for the wines, and the locals have preordered from a limited production. This is probably one reason why the wine is hard to find.

I was in Ariège and Foix last year, and as always, I tried to find local wine. To the local trout we had for dinner in our hotel’s restaurant, which should be one of the better restaurants in Foix, I asked for a local, white wine. I was given the choice between a Jurançon sec or a Gaillac, none of them very local in Foix. As we were arriving from Pau, and had Jurançon sec the day before, we went for Gaillac. I have to add that 75% of the wine from Ariège is red wine, and they had a local red wine. But red wine was not my choice to trout. Usually, restaurants are good places to tase local wine. The often find some good, hard to fine wines that they are proud to serve. But not here, at least not a white wine. I was thinking that they were not very proud of their wine.

I found a small wine merchant were I got some local wine, and bought a few bottles. But this was not very interesting wines. Next time I am in this district, I will again ask for local wine, and hope to taste some of the results of the quality improvement thas has been expected for some time. But it is not a wine I will try to find outside of this area..


Le Guide Hachette des vins

Of the three wine guide books I am usually consulting, Hachette is the only one to include some wines from Ariège. These are Dominik BENZ , Domaine de Lastronques and   Domaine du Sabarthès.

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Tour de France 2017

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