Tour de France by the Glass 2016: Stage Eight, Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon

Profile Stage 8
Stage profile courtesy of http://www.letour.com

 

Welcome to the Pyrénées!

You know it’s going to be a tough day when the stage profile map looks like an upturned saw, with a few gigantic teeth.  Today’s stage features one of the most famous climbs ever to grace the Tour de France:  the Col du Tourmalet.

Col du Tourmalet photo
Col du Tourmalet

It first challenged the peloton back in 1910 and has haunted them 83 times since!  This bit of road is the highest paved mountain pass in the French Pyrénées, and measures out at 2,115 meters (over 6,000 feet).  After successfully hauling themselves over this monster, the peloton can look forward to repeating the exercise three more times before the day is through.  Looming between them and the finish line are a Cat 2, a Cat 1, and then another Cat 1 climb, for a cumulative ascent of 14,139 feet!  Yes, even the climbers will feel the pain on Saturday, the Tour’s first full-on mountain stage.  Better them than me, is what I say.  Greg van Avermaet will lose the yellow jersey today, and I expect that we will finally see a bit more of Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana, both overall favorites to win the Tour this year.  Oh, and they are both top-notch climbers.  Should be fun to watch!

 

 

Irouleguy Vineyards
Vineyards in Irouléguy

TDF BTG Wine Recommendation

We’re still in South West France so let’s explore another interesting wine region for today’s recommendation.  Irouléguy lies at the very border with Spain, in France’s Basque territory.  Grape varieties are familiar ones, Tannat and Cabernet Franc, which must comprise between 50% and 90% of the blend.  Cabernet Sauvignon contributes the rest.  Tannat is responsible for most of the rosé produced here, with Cabernet Sauvignon again playing a supporting role.  As for the white wines, not much is made, but the local grapes Courbu, Petit Courbu, Gros Manseng, and Petit Manseng do come together to create a light-bodied and fragrant quaff.   These wines can be tough to find in the US, but similar styles can be found in the nearby Spanish regions of Navarra (rosés are noteworthy) and Txakoli.  All that lies between them is a border.

Whichever wine you choose, enjoy the chaos that is the Pyrénées and Vive le Tour!

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