Wines and other drinks of Tour de France 2018. Stage 15: Millau — Carcassonne

Yesterday’s stage was rather boring, at least until the final climb to the finish. The GC-teams cannot let this happen again. The riders in a breakaway may not be a threat to the top three riders. But for those who hope to finish within the top ten, riding like this can be a problem.

It was a bit fun to follow the stage on French TV. The final climb has been given the name Montée Laurent Jalabert. He had a spectacular win here in 1995, and he is from the area. Laurent Jalabert has been part of French TV’s Tour de France team as long as I have been following the race on French TV. They did of course show Laurent Jalabert’s win in 1995, and a TV-interview with a twenty some years younger Laurent Jalabert after the win. He was slightly embarrassed when Marion Rousse,  former French cycling champion, a beautyful young lady who is now expert commentator on French TV, said that he was just as handsome now, as he was then. But she added that she was only four years old when Laurent Jalabert won the stage, and that she did not remember it. But Laurent Jalabert got more embarrassed when Thomas Voeckler, who is now a reporter on motorcycle for French TV, started to tell how Laurent Jalabert was his hero, and that he used all his savings to get the same equipment as Laurent Jalabert had. “You have never told me this before”, said Laurent Jalabert. “No. You were a legend and a great hero, and I could not tell you”, replied Thomas Voeckler. “But now we are colleagues, so now I can tell you.”

Peter Sagan tweeted this, after the stage:

“All day in the break was a bit boring because I thought I was going to be dropped in the final climb. So, I focused on the last 5km and tried to go for the win. I didn’t make it but finished 4th. Still a long way to Paris…”

He did not seem too disappointed with his fourth place. Peter Sagan can be at the top on almost any stage.

Today it is another hilly stage. But the last part is a descent, and the finish is rather flat. It is a slight ascent the last kilometer, around 2%. I would have said that this could make this finish a bit too hard for some of the most typical sprinters. But the most typical sprinters are all out of the race, so this is no longer an issue. I would not be surprised if Peter Sagan will win this stage.

They have made a hard tour this year. Often, when the Alps are before the Pyrenees, they do not include too hard stages in the Alps, to ensure that the riders are not too exhausted when they come to the Pyrenees. If the Pyrenees are first, they usually do not include the hardest Pyrenees stages. But not this year. There were three very hard stages in the Alps. Often there are some flat “recovery” stages between the Alps and the Pyrenees.  But this year, it is only one flat stage.

The organiser has given priority to mountains over wine this year. They are circumventing some of the interesting wine areas that could have been included in a stage from Millau to Carcassonne.

If you like Roquefort cheese, you can bring some from the start. I have to admit that blue cheese is not my favorite. I like small quantities, like a piece as part of a cheese platter at a restaurant. But I never buy it, if I have not planned to use it when cooking. I know that if I buy this cheese, it will be resting in the fridge for too long time, without being eaten. Roquefort is made from sheep’s milk, and it must be stored in caves in the Roquefort area. All the caves are in use, meaning that production cannot be increased. Anyone can of course make blue cheese from sheep’s milk and store it in caves. But they cannot call this cheese Roquefort, just as we cannot call a sparkling wine made outside of Champagne, Champagne.

France had a region reform in 2016. It was 27 regions, now this is reduced to 18, including five overseas regions, which is some kind of a more politically correct term for colonies. What was Languedoc-Roussillon has merged with what was Midi-Pyrénées to the region Occitanie. The enitre stage today is in the region Occitanie. On the level below, there are 96 departements, and then 36.000 communes. In addition to that, there are cantons, and in the major cities there are arrondissements. I have tried to understand the administrative structure in France, and the distribution of competence among the various levels, but I have given up.

Some has argued that they could go further, and that two regions should be enough, divided according to what is really important: One region where they call the bread or cake, whatever you prefer, made from the same dough as croissants, with small pieces of chocolate, for Pain au Chocolat, and one region where they prefer to call it Chocolatine. We are now going from the Pain au Chocolat region to the Chocolatine region.

We can include some more food. Many cities in South-Western France claim to be the capital of cassoulet, among them Carcassonne, where they have a Cassoulet Academy. Cassoulet is a stew with dried white beans and meat as the main ingredients. What kind of meat, can vary from one place to another.

We must have some wine. Carcassone is located in, or at least close to Corbières. Even if the old region Languedoc-Roussillon has merged with what was Midi-Pyrénées , there are good reasons to maintain Languedoc-Roussillon as a wine region of its own. In Corbières they mainly make red wine. It is the area where they have the largest wine production in Languedoc-Roussillon. Corbières is divieded into ten designated areas:

  1. Montagne d’Alaric
  2. Saint Victor
  3. Fontfroide
  4. Queribus
  5. Termenès
  6. Lézignan
  7. Lagrasse
  8. Sigean
  9. Durban
  10. Serviès

Boutenac, that was such a designated area, got its own AOP-status in 2005, as AOP Courberes-Boutenac.

I have been mentioning chocolate. If we want to have a good wine with chocolate, and then I am mainly thinking of dark chocolate, we have to go a bit further south, to the district Maury in Roussillon, where the most well known producer is Mas Amiel. This is my favorite wine to chocolate, and I know that some very good patisseurs share this opinion.

Tomorrow is a very well deserved rest day. I am sure many riders are looking forward to this rest day, before the Pyrenees.

Tour de France 2018


Tour de France
Giro d'Italia


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