I did not really get why they dropped Passage du Gois. French TV showed pictures of a flooded Passage du Gois, but I am not sure if this was live coverage or something produced in advance to present this stretch. If it was flooded at the time they had planned to use it, then the organisers had not done their homework. Maybe the start was earlier than originally planned, because of the fottball. I do not know. But I was disappointed.
But even if they did not ride this narrow and often slippery road, there was more than enough of action. Chirs Froome and Richie Porte both crashed and lost time, and Nairo Quintana had a puncture at a very critical point in the stage.
Fernando Gaviria won the first stage in his first Tour de France. According to the French commentators, this has not happened before. If we want to be really precise, it must have happended in the first tour, or rather tours. But nevertheless, a stunning achievment. French TV asked him about the green jersey. He would try, but said that it was more likely that someone with more experience would win it, as they have to sruvive the mountains. He was mentioning Peter Sagan. Peter Sagan showed again why he is a strong candidate to win the green jersey. Even if he does not win the stages, he is always up there in the top, getting points.
Second stage is another flat stage. We have moved a bit inland, The wind could play a role. But the weather forcast is good.
Today’s stage will almost bring us into the area for one of the lower Loire’s classics: The muscadet. Muscadet is a white wine made from the grape Melon de Bourgogne, also called muscadet. I am probably not the only person who has confused the grapes muscadet and muscat. One may confuse the names, but not the taste. Muscadet gives a crispy wine high in acidity, muscat a more aromatic, and often sweet wine.
Muscadet is a very good and fresh summer wine, that goes well with sea food. It was very popular in the 1970s and 80s, one may say too popular. The demand caused many producers to give priority to quantity rather than quality. It almost had the same faith as German riesling. But as in the wine world in general: The producers learned that in the long run, it is quality that matters and will make the production profitable.
There are four appelations in Muscadet, with a certain hierachy. The one that only is called Muscadet covers wine that does not fall into one of the three other appelations. These are Sèvre et Maine, Coteaux de la Loire and Cotes de Grand Lieu. Sèvre et Maine is often said to be the best. But as 70% of all muscadet is produced with this classification, we cannot look only at the classifications to find the better wines.
Muscadet is often labeled “Sur lie”. This wine has rested on the lees for some months, four to ten according to the rules, to get more taste and a richer character. This is also the way they treat the still wines in Champagne, before the second fermentation.
The grape muscadet is not very aromatic. It needs some care in the vinyard. If it gets too hot, it will give a rather flat and bland wine. But as we are in the wine area with the wettest and coolest growing season in France, it is a challenge to get ripe grapes, which is the growers main concern, rather than to maintain the acidity.
Producers have been working to establish certain areas as specified “crus”, For this wine, it will be a requirement to rest sur lie for at least 17 months. How far they have gotten in this, I do not know. I have not seen recent information on this.
A good muscadet has some citrus and apple flavours.
If you want to see and experince French wine regions L’Encyclopédis Tourstistique des Vins de France is a good guide. It has one tour in this area, from Saint-Florent-le-Vieil to Nantes, with 36 stops. The book is written mainly for people who are driving, but can also be useful if you are cycling, at least when you are planning.
Tour de France 2018
Tour de France