Tour de France

From our Hang Time tasting on Thursday, July 7, 2016…

This year marks the 103rd running of the world’s most prestigious bicycle road race, the Tour de France.  The race began in Normandy on July 2 and ends in Paris on July 24, covering 3519 km in 21 stages and hitting four countries.  Twenty-two teams from 13 countries will compete for 2,295,850€ in prize money.  Today’s flat 190.5-km stage runs SW through central France.

Red Feet’s Tour de France has, as usual, five stages, one for each wine.  Our first stage, from the Loire (or rather, the Loir), is a sprinter, bright, crisp, and as complex as the race itself. Pascal Janvier Jasnières 2015 is a dry Chenin Blanc from an obscure appellation made by a former butcher and his wife who farm some 66 small parcels of vines.  Savor its aromas and flavors—flowers, stones, tree fruit—and plan a visit to the fish truck tomorrow.  It’s on to Burgundy for the next leg.  We’ll stop in the southern part of the region for a sip of Domaine des Valanges Saint-Veran 2015, a dry, elegant Chardonnay.  It offers peach and pear, with touches of almond, mineral, white flower, and honey.  It’s crisp and bright rather than buttery and toasty, a good counterpoint to the summer heat that won’t overwhelm vegetarian fare or cold soups.

We’ll move east again, to Savoie, equidistant from Italy and Switzerland.  This is primarily a white-wine-producing area.  We’ll buck those trends and sample a red made from the indigenous Mondeuse grape.  Jean Perrier et Fils Mondeuse Cuvée Gastronomie 2015 is a classic Savoyard red, light to medium bodied but full flavoredthink wild berries, blueberries, spiced red cherry, and white pepper.  Pair with sharp cheese and charcuterie, roast chicken, or stuffed eggplant.  Back west again, this time with a stop in Bordeaux to sample Vignobles Ballarin Château Roc de Levraut Bordeaux Supérieur 2014.  What makes it “superior” relative to regular Bordeaux?  In practice, the wines are generally made from small parcels of older vines; by law, vine density must be greater (so yields are about 10% lower), minimum alcohol must be higher, and ageing at least a year is required.  Although young and inexpensive, this is a charmer!  Our final wine is a climber, powerful and enduring.  The southern Rhône provides the sustainably grown grapes that go into elicio Grenache & Merlot 2014.  This wine is honest and balanced, with aromas and flavors of ripe red and black fruits, sweet spiciness, and a lifted, pleasant freshness.  Serve it a bit cool with everyday meals or drink it on its own.

–M.P. Rouse

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