Wine and some other drinks of Tour de France 2017: Stage 14. Blagnac — Rodez

French stage win on the Bastille day, and the fourth French stage win, is very popular in France. Alberto Contador and Nairo Quintana demonstrated that they cannot be written off. The situation between Chris Froome and Mikel Landa gives some flashback to Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome some years ago. With 6 seconds between Fabio Aru and CHris Froome, and 35 seconds between the first four, everything is open.

Today there is a good chance that a break away will succeed. The GC contender will not win time by attacking on this stage, and will probably not use energy to chase som riders who are no threat to them. The stage goes mainly slightly up, with no really hard climbs. The finish is a 570 m climb at 9,6%. It will not be a stage for the sprinters. It is difficult to pick favourites. It is a question of commin in the right break away.

The most interesting wine are along today’s stage is Gaillac.

Gaillac is one of many places that claims to be the first place where they started to produce sparkling wine. It is not possible to decide who was first. Sparkling wine was an accident. The finished wine that had stopped fermenting and was bottled some time in the late autoum, was not always completely fermented. But the low temperature had stopped the fermentation. When the temperature was rising in the spring, the fermentation started again i some bottles. Neither the bottles nor the corks were made for this pressures. Bottles exploded and corks popped. The oldest documented production of sparkling wine was i Limoux, where such procuction was documented in 1543. But having the oldest documentation, does not mean that they were first.

Both in Gaillac and Limoux, the produce sparkling wine with old method, in Limoux called Methode ancestrale, and in Gaillac Method gaillacoise. They use the same grape, Mauzac. In this process, there is no second fermentation. The wine is botteled before the fermentation has finished, and the fermentation continue in the bottles. A similar method is to some extent used in Loire, Die (Rhône) and Bugey. Dry wines are a rather modern fashion. Old fashioned wines, like the sparkling wines produced with this method are not dry. In my opinion, they are more interesting than good.

Gaillac is located by the river Tarn, which flows out in the river Garonne, which flows out in the ocean at Bordeaux. This is one of the areas whose wine were used to improve bordeaux wine, and did not get a reputation on its own, as we mentioned to stage 10, to Bergerac.

Gaillac is one of the oldest wine regions in France. Here it has been produced wine since Roman times, maybe even longer.

Gaillac is located between The Mediterranain and the Atlanctic, and is said to be able to produce wines both in the Atlantic and the Mediterranian style, as well as more typical inland style. The main wine growing areas are located west of Albi, where we find the best area Gaillac Premières Côtes. But there is also a smaller area east of the town.

In Gaillac they produce many types of wine, red, white, rosé and sparkling. It has been said that they produce som many different wines in Gaillac and they have to make up their mind. Versatility may have its advantages. But it can also lead to lack of identity. Helen Savage writes this in her wine blog:

“Gaillac is learning to be different. Its vineyards along the Tarn Valley in South West France were first planted by the Romans and it remains a land of proud traditions as well as of generous people. And it’s upon that long tradition that some growers there are daring to build a platform for future success.

(…) but Gaillac is a crossroads in more than one sense. Its splendid climate (…) is a unique mix of Atlantic, Mediterranean and Continental influences. Its vignerons can grow grapes suited to all three and make almost every style of wine imaginable, including pétillant (perlé), sparkling, dry and doux (but not liquoureux) whites, rosés, light, primeur summer-drinking reds and others high in tannin and extract that cry out for careful cellaring. It’s almost too easy. But that’s why they now have to make hard choices and leave others to grow Gamay, Merlot or Sauvignon Blanc. In a fiercely competitive market their future lies in doing what only they can do – and in making the most of their special red varieties Duras and Braucol (sometimes called Fer Servadou) and the local white varieties Loin de l’Oeil and Mauzac. Duras, for example, features in no other appellation. Gaillac wines taste like no others; and the best, almost all from these four grapes, are now beginning to make UK critics sit up and take notice.”

It is difficult to describe a typical Gaillac wine. It is easy to agree that Gaillac will not be very interesting as long as they follow the various trends in the wine world. It is local traditions and identity that makes a district interesting. Who cares about another Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot produced a place in France the few persona have heard of?

Grand Atlas des vignobles de France

2263046607This is the kind of atlas I would like to have for all wine producing countries in the world. Good  and detaield maps, with informative text. Could we wish for more? Some may wish for another laguage, as this is in French only.

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Tour de France 2017

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