Wine Talk

Snooth User: Lucha Vino

Wines of the Tour de France

Posted by Lucha Vino, Jun 23, 2012.

The Tour de France starts early this year (next weekend) so racers can do le Tour and the Olympics.  I will be following the tour route, tasting wines from the regions the racers visit during the three week bike race.

The tour starts in Belgium this year.  I will pick up the race in Alsace and then continue through Jura, Savoie, Rhone, Provence and Languadoc-Roussillon before finishing in Paris with some Champagne.  I may deviate from the route to make a visit to Bordeaux along the way.

I will start a wine list later this weekend and post my tasting notes and notes on the race as the cyclists wind their way through France.

Do you have any favorite French wines from these regions? 

Do you have a favorite for this year's Tour?

It would be great to have you share your favorite racers, wines and tasting notes along with me.

Vive le Tour!


Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 23, 2012.

Hey, thanks for picking this up, Lucha! I've been jamming on my preparations for my trip to Europe--leaving Thursday--so I've been kind of behind. I'll be checking in while I am there:  Got the Ipad today, so now I just have to get it out of the kids' hands once in a while.  We'll be zooming through the countryside from Milan to Lago Maggiore to Geneva to Paris during the race, so we expect to see most of it on TV or the web.  Kids are glad they won't have to watch in person. 

The course this year is far more wine friendly than last, when the best regions of France that it hit was Pays Nantais in the Loire (came close to Cahors, but not quite), and the best wine region overall wasn't in France, but when the race went over the line to Piemonte.  No need to wait until Paris to drink champagne:  The sixth stage this year is all about bubbly, starting in Epernay, home to many caves (Moet/Dom being the most famous) and ending in Metz, which makes pinot, but also produces grapes that wind up in those Epernay champagnes (or did before appellation rules banned them--as if that stopped anyone).  There's more opportunities for sparklers in Macon, if you like Cremant de Bourgogne.  But Lucha has his sights set higher than that, of course--and I'm kind of spilling the beans too much.  But there's one more bubbly specialist region--good article about it here. Support French winemakers! Who knew they were endangered?

Other good regions, albeit hard to find in your local grocery, include the Jura.  And then all those choices in the teen stages--Lucha, you and your liver have your work cut out for you!

I'll be at my closest to the Tour when it's in Liege (I'll be in the Netherlands) and kind of crossing behind it when it zigzags in and out of Switzerland.  Looking at the Tour map, I could have planned a little better. Still, being in France watching it with the French during the final mountain stage--the whole thing is pretty wide open this year, so the final TT will be important, too--is going to be exciting.

Reply by Lucha Vino, Jun 27, 2012.

Just like the pro cyclists, I am putting the finishing touches on my form for the Tour de France.  While they focus on fine tuning their weight and fitness I am focusing on selecting my French wines...

Here is the start of my Tour de France List

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 27, 2012.

Definitely not the middle-of-the-peloton choices.  Some other interesting wines could be grower champagnes from Epernay, Cremant de Bourgogne from down in the Maconnais, and more bubbly in the Cremant de Limoux area--which has major values in the category. 

On your bikes!

Reply by duncan 906, Jun 28, 2012.

The Jura is an area we do not hear a lot about but I passed that way back in 2008.There is a 'route des vins' which takes you past some of the producers and the main town is called Arbois.There are some nice reds made from two grapes unique to the region,,Poulsard and Trousseau,and Pinot Noir,either  singly or as a blend.The whites are made of either Chardonnay or another local grape called Savignin.There is a sparkling wine called 'Cremant de Jura' and also two fortified wines called Macvin and Vin Jaune,which comes in a 62cl bottle.I hope you enjoy yourself there and enjoy drinking  some wine.

Reply by Lucha Vino, Jul 6, 2012.

The racers are hitting the Alsace region this weekend as the route starts to turn up.  Up hill, that is.  The first week of racing has seen plenty of mishaps and, sadly, my home state hero Tyler Farrar has been involved in most of them.  Today's race featured a nasty crash that ended the hopes of many of the race favorites. 

Wiggins and Evans are still sitting pretty and there may still be some challengers as the peleton start to hit the climbs.  Let's see what unfolds over the weekend.

In the meantime I have updated my list of Tour de France wines with tasting notes.

Reply by Lucha Vino, Jul 9, 2012.

Today was the day that many of the top GC Favorites at le Tour have been waiting for - the first Time Trial.  The time trial specialists have been rubbing their hands together and laughing in a sinister way.  Biding their time and waiting to unleash some pain on the light weight climbers that struggle to generate serious wattage over a distance of 41 km.

There were a couple of big surprises on the day.  First, Vincenzo Nibali road the TIme Trial of his life finishing 6th on the stage.  Second, Brad Wiggins crushed everybody by a margin even larger than predicted.  As a result, he has a lead of 1:53 over Cadel Evans in second place and a 2:23 lead over Nibali in fourth place.

Today's Time Trial finished in Besancon, not too far to the East of Burgundy.  I selected a wine from Burgundy to represent this stage of the tour.  I've been waiting for two days for this Pinot Noir from Burgundy to show its true potential.  Unlike Brad Wiggins, who won the Time Trial stage today, I have not been rewarded for my patience.

Reply by Lucha Vino, Jul 11, 2012.

After a rest day in Macon the riders are heading South East finishing in Bellegarde-Sur-Valserine and then starting in Albertville on Thursday.

My selection for this part of the race is a Mondeuse from Domaine de L'Idylle in the Savoie region.


Reply by Lucha Vino, Jul 14, 2012.

Friday was a great day for the American based team Garmin-Sharp.  David Millar got into the day's break away group and won the stage from the final five surviving racers.  Garmin has had a very unlucky Tour de France with three of their top riders abandoning the race due to injury.  And Tyler Farrar, one of the world's top sprinters, was involved in just about every crash during the first week ruining any chances he had to contest the sprint finishes.

The stage finish on Friday was in Annonay, which is South of Lyon.  The route traced through the Rhone so my selection for the day was the 2004 Chateau des Tours.  I originally purchased this wine on the recommendation of Jonathan Vaughters, the Director Sportif for the Garmin team.  He is a wine enthusiast, with special interest in Southern Rhone wines.

Reply by Lucha Vino, Jul 20, 2012.

The last few stages have been zig zagging around the South of France in the Pyrenes Mountains.  The Langeoudoc region is relatively close to these routes and the riders actually passed through Languedoc on their way to the mountains.  I have updated my Tour de France wine list with a couple of big reds from the South of France.

There are three stages left in the race and unless Brad Wiggins absolutely implodes he will win this year's edition of the Grand Boucle.

Tomorrow, the route heads North pointing toward Paris and celebrations on the Champs Elysees.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jul 20, 2012.

Nice coverage.  I didn't have a TV in France, so I couldn't watch in real time. Oh, plus I was sightseeing. These are some interesting wines, and the updates on the Languedoc are great.  Wiggins is making himself as beloved as a non-French winner is ever going to be. 

Great link to the Vaughters interview.  He could totally be a Snoother with that "who knows what I'll be into then" line.

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