Category Archives: Wine

Wines and other drinks of Tour de France 2018. Stage 4: La Baule — Sarzeau

Team time trial will always shuffle the classification. It came as no surprise that BMC, Sky and Quick Step to the three firs places. Quick Step was close to demonstrate why it is so important to have a well organised team. When Fernando Gaviria was dropped, it looked as if the whole team was about to fall apart. But they managed to reorganise what was left of the team.

Peter Sagan demonstrated another aspect of team time trial. The clock is stopped on no 4 across the line. If someone should ride away from the team, they will still get the team’s time, when no 4 finished. But you have to be with the team, to get the team’s time. I had not expected that Peter Sagan should be dropped. But he got the time when he crossed the line, not the team’s time. It does not really matter for him. If he is trying to win something in the end, it is the green jersey. And time does not matter in this competition.

In a way, it was more critical for Farnando Gaviria, as he is now 4.33 behind in the competition for the white jersey (best young rider). But it is very unlikely that he, as a young sprinter, would be able to keep his lead through the mountain stages.

I like that there are time diferences. Then more riders will have to attack, and we may see more action on the stages to come.

Stage 4 is another flat stage, in the area between Loire and Brittany. It will probably be another bunch sprint.

We are north and west of the wine areas in Loire, but still not really in Brittany. Brittany is not known as a wine region. But they do produce some wine here too, also in the area were the riders will be cycling today. The climate change is pushing the limit for wine growing to the north.

Continue reading Wines and other drinks of Tour de France 2018. Stage 4: La Baule — Sarzeau

Wines and other drinks of Tour de France 2018. Stage 3: Cholet (team time trial)

As expected, a new sprint. And peter Sagan was up there again, with enough bonus seconds and points to take both the yellow and the green jersey. Sylvan Chavanel got the prize for the most combattitive rider. This is the prize they get when they have worked and tried hard, without achieving anything. But Sylvan Chavanel is now riding hisTour de France no 19, which is a record and really an achievement.

Stage 3 is a 35,5 km team time trial. I like team time trials. At Tour de France 2009, I had the privilege of following the team time trial from the studio/production area in the TV compund. I had their reporter and former pro cyclist and TdF stage winner, Dag Otto Lauritzen, as a personal expert commentator while we were watching. I learned a lot about team time trial this time, and to me it is a fascinating type of cycling. Here the teams really have to work as teams. Some teams are training seriously for team time trials, others are not. It makes a difference, and there can be interesting time differences after this stage.

We are still in the same area, and we have harvested most of the wines we can find here. We have to move a bit further into the country, to the neighbouring region Anjou

Continue reading Wines and other drinks of Tour de France 2018. Stage 3: Cholet (team time trial)

Wines and other drinks of Tour de France 2018. Stage 2: Mouilleron-Saint-Germain — La Roche-sur-Yon

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
Giro d'Italia


Wines and other drinks of Tour de France 2018. Stage 1: Noirmoutier-en-l’Île — Fontenay le Comte

Her we go again. We can let football be football. Now it is time for Tour de France. Stage 1 starts at Noirmoutier-en-l’Île and the riders will pass Passage du Gois before getting to the mainland.

Passage du Gois is a 4,5 km passage to the mainland, that is flooded tice a dav, on high tide. One has to be aware of the tide and the time when passing.We must assume that they studied the tide table before deciding to include this in the race. Even when the road is not flooded, it can be slippery. It was used for the first time in Tour de France in 1999. Slippery road lead to falls, and the peloton was splitted with a 6 minutes time difference.

It was used again as opening stage in 2011. There is another connection to the mainland, so people can get to and from also at high tide. But this connection is not as interesting and spectacular.

The stage is flat, and it will probably end in a sprint. There is one 4th category climb a 173 km, just enough that someone can get the polka dot jersey. But on a stage like this, it can always be a question of who will be in the position to sprint at the final. The stage follows the coast, meaning that wind can play a role. But the weather forcast says nice weather and only light winds.

When the riders get to the mainland, they will turn south towards  Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie before turning east and into the area Fiefs-Vendéens-Mareuil.

The stage ends in Fontenay le Comte. We will visit several wine areas. But from a wine perspective, it is a soft start. We are a bit south of the river Loire. We are not very far from Cognac. But I do not think we shall go there yet. Cognac is not very goos as an aperitif, and we are only at the aperitif now.

I find it misleading to call Loire one wine region. The various areas do not have more in common than that they are located near the same river, the longest river in France. We could mention other “wine rivers”. Bordeaux is located where the rivers Garonne (and Dordogne) flows into the ocean. Along the river Garonne we find many wine districts lik Duras, Marmandais, Buzet, Côtes-du-Brulhois, Fronton, Lavilledieu anf St-Sardos. But we do not label all these wines “Garonne wines”.  Alsace is located by the Rhine river, but we to not call Alsace wines Rhine wines. Etc.

I find it difficult, or almost impossible to find what could be called a Loire style. We are now at the Atlantic coast, with costal climate. At Sancerre ande Poully Fumé, there is continental climate. There are major differences.

Tour de France 2018


Tour de France
Giro d'Italia


Wines and other drinks of Giro d’Italia 2018: Stage 21: The finale in Rome

When Simon Yates was out of the competition for the GC, Mikel Nieve took the opportunity and got a stage wine on his 34 years birthday. A rider can probably not get a better birthday present. But even if Simon Yates did not last to the finish, the team got five stage wins and a number of days in the pink jersey (I have not counted). This is not a bad outcome for Mitchelton-Scott.

Yesterday it was Thibaut Pinot who got “the hammer”. It was painful to see how he suffered in the climbs. He eventually finished in the grupetto, with the looser from the day before, Simon Yates, 45 min and 32 seconds behind Mikael Nieve. For them it is only a question of hanging on to the finish line in Rome.

Chris Froome was able to maintain his lead. Tom Dumoulin tried and did what he could. But he did not have what was needed to beat Chris Froome yesterday.

Today it is a stage of honour, or stage of charm if I translate directly from the expression in Norwegian. I do not know the  Engilsh expression for this, if it is one. It is not the same tradition in Giro d’Italia as in Tour de France. It has often been an individual time trial as the final stage, that has often been decisive. This year it is a round of 11,5 km in Rome, that they shall cycle ten times. Independent of any tradition, this is a flat stage. I breakaway will not be allowed to go. The GC is settled, it is only a question of which sprinter will win the stage.

Continue reading Wines and other drinks of Giro d’Italia 2018: Stage 21: The finale in Rome

Wines and other drinks of Giro d’Italia 2018: Stage 20: Susa — Cervinia

It was an impressive stage by Chris Froome. 80 km solo! For Simon Yates, it was really a black Friday. After loosing 38 min and 51 sec yesterday, it is game over for him, at least for this year’s Giro. It was sad to see. It is always nice to see a new star rising, and brutal when it ends like this. But he is still young. We will probably see more from him in the future.

Today the GC will be decided, given than none of the GC-contenders have serious accidents on the final stage in Rome. The first 130 km are farily flat, before the get three category one cimbs. The interesting question for today is: Wo will pay the highest price for yesterday’s very hard stage? Chris Froome faded afterZoncolan, and it remains to be seen how he will do today. Tom Dumoulin took 49 seconds on Chris Froome on the stage after Zoncolan, so Froome’s 40 seconds lead is far from safe. But today, the other GC-contenders and their teams will have to attack.

Yesterday, Chris Froome was ridig solo for a very long time. But he took time on his competitors up, down and in between. I do not know if his team could not follow any longer, or if it was tactics to have a fresh and strong team today. I am not pretending to be an expert on cycling tactics. But today’s stage has a profile that can invite to the tactics we often could see from Lance Armsrong’s teams: Use the team to set high speed into the climbs, trying to get the other teams exhausted. Then the strongest domestics will follow as long as they can in the climbs. It will be an exciting stage.

Continue reading Wines and other drinks of Giro d’Italia 2018: Stage 20: Susa — Cervinia

Wines and other drinks of Giro d’Italia 2018: Stage 19: Venaria Reale — Bardonecchia

Finally it was a breakaway that got in. But what happened between the GC-contenders was more interesting. Simon Yates showed signs of weakness and lost time. And Chris Froome is at least competing for a place on the podium. The race is far from over yet. Today is another mountain stage with a summit finish. This it this year’s Cima Coppa stage, the stage with the highest mountain pass: olla delle Finestre at 2178 meter. It will be an exiting stage.


I include the profile of today’s stage, to give an impression of what the riders will be into. Continue reading Wines and other drinks of Giro d’Italia 2018: Stage 19: Venaria Reale — Bardonecchia

Wines and other drinks of Giro d’Italia 2018: Stage 18. Abbiategrasso — Prato Nevoso

Now we will have three days with mountains, before the sprinters will get their last chance to shine on the final stage in Rome. The first 160 km of today’s stage are relatively flat, and then it starts to ascend. The final 15 km is a climb at around 7%. Here we can expect attacks from those with GC-ambtitions.

The stage starts in Lombardy, in or just outside Milan. When we are in this region, I use to write about franciacorta. But we had franciacorta yesterday, and hopefully you have kept one bottle for the final stage in Rome.

Continue reading Wines and other drinks of Giro d’Italia 2018: Stage 18. Abbiategrasso — Prato Nevoso

Wines and other drinks of Giro d’Italia 2018: Stage 17. Riva del Garda — Iseo (Franciacorta stage)

I was traveling most of the day yesterday, and arrived home late. Even later than planned, due to air traffic contol strike in France. And when you have been away for sometime, there are alwas things that need to be taken care of before we can do the more fun stuff, like cycling and wine. So I am a bit behid.

The time trial Tuesday did not shake up the standings, and today was a sprit stage, as expected. 78 riders got the same time.

Continue reading Wines and other drinks of Giro d’Italia 2018: Stage 17. Riva del Garda — Iseo (Franciacorta stage)

Wines and other drinks of Giro d’Italia 2018: Stage 16. Trento — Rovereto (Individual time trial)

Saturday, it looked as if Chris Froom had cycled himself in form, and could still be a cotender to win Giro d’Italia. Sunday we saw another Chris Froom. He did not follow Simon Yates in his brave attacks But it was more serious and a clear sign of weakness that he was dropped by the second chasing group, in which he was riding for a while. Now the time gap is starting to get too big. The stage was a demontration of power from Simon Yates.

The grand tours are won (or lost) in the mountains and the time trials. The sprinters may win stages, but they will never gain enough time to win the race. Sometimes, when the positions in the race are more or less settled, they will let a breakaway go in, as long as there are no riders who are any threats to those who are fighting for overall position, be it in the GC, point, youth or KOM, in the breakaway. The teams will not use energy to chase these breakaways, and will let one of the domestics shine and win a stage. But they should have learned not to give them a too long lead, as they did on stage 13 in Tour de France 2006. The breakaway got a lead of almost 30 minutes on the peloton. The stage was won by Jens Voigt, with Óscar Pereiro Sío second. Óscar Pereiro Sío got the yellow jersey. When Floyd Landis tested positive on doping and was disqualfied, none of the other riders manages to take back the lead from Óscar Pereiro Sío, and he won the tour this year.

Those who are competing for the GC, or the best young rider, will go all in on a time trial, to win or at least not to loose time. Then there are som TT-specialists, who are competing for a stage win. But the sprinters and all the domestics have nothing to fight for in an individual time trial. There are no points to be won for the sprinters, and the domestics cannot help their captains. Their job is to save as much energi they can for the stages to come, and finish within the time limit. Jens Voigt once called these individual tme trials well into a grand tour as a “semi restday”.

Todays tme trial is 34,2 km and flat. Both Simon Yaes and Tom Dumoulin are good time trialer (I am not so sure about Simon Yates, but he dd well in the prolog). A Chris Froom at his best coul probably not win enough time on a stage like this, to catch up with the leaders.

It is the first day after a rest day, after two weeks of cycling The riders react differently to this. Some are recharged and fit for fight, others may need a day or to to get back into the race.

Continue reading Wines and other drinks of Giro d’Italia 2018: Stage 16. Trento — Rovereto (Individual time trial)