Sunday, during Stage 9 of the 2016 Tour de France, Mother Nature threw just about everything but the kitchen sink at the peloton: sweltering heat, unrelenting mountain roads, encroaching spectators, and a hail storm. What’s next? Locusts?
If you missed coverage of yesterday’s ride through the Pyrénées, check out the highlight video from Cycling Weekly:
Monday is a rest day but the riders get back in the saddle on Tuesday, heading due north out of Andorra toward Revel, France. Stage 10 begins with a bang — a Category 1 climb just 24 kms into the race. The ascent up the Port d’Envalira rises over 7,000 feet, offering plenty of challenge to the climbers, while striking fear into the hearts of the rest of the peloton. Once they’ve survived the perilous descent to Tarascon-sur-Ariège, the sprinters will gear up for the day’s designated sprint, where Peter Sagan will try to wrest the green jersey from Mark Cavendish’s back. After that the route rolls along with only a Cat 3 climb lying between the riders and the finish line.
Cabardès Wine Region
If you’re lucky enough to watch the Tour de France in person, then you’ll have no problem finding a delicious local wine. Stage Ten takes us eastward into the Languedoc, a large swath of southwestern France famous for its medieval castles and long, sunny days. The Cabardès AOC lies north of Carcassonne and is part of the much larger Languedoc AOC. It is known for its red and rosé wines based on a mix of indigenous and international grape varieties. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Fer Servadou, for the reds; Syrah, Grenache, and Cinsault for the rosés. As with most of the Languedoc AOCs, wines from Cabardès can represent great value for the money.
For today’s sip-along suggestion, I recommend a fresh, pink rosé from the Languedoc region. If you can’t find one from Cabardès, see if you can find one from a neighboring commune, like Minervois or Corbières. If all else fails, you can always fall back on the larger Vin de Pays d’Oc classification. Pour yourself a glass, close your eyes, and envision yourself sitting in a charming cafe, staring out at a field of sunflowers!
Cabardès was named after the Lords of Cabaret who defended the Châteaux de Lastours (Castles of Lastours) against Simon de Montfort and other Crusaders in 1209.
The Châteaux de Lastours are four Cathar castles set atop a rocky spur above the village of Lastours, beside the Orbeil and Grésilhou rivers. Three of the castles, Cabaret, Surdespine and la Tour Régine, form a united front on one peak , while Quertinheux rises on another close by. The site was classified as an historic monument by the French Ministry of Culture in 1905
The Lastours castles held out as a center of opposition to the conquests of Simon de Montfort, a French warlord who took part in the Fourth Crusade (1202–1204) and was a prominent leader of the Albigensian Crusade, which I wrote a bit about for Stage 6. De Monfort’s task was made more difficult by the impenetrability of the four castles, and he ultimately decided against attacking them, choosing instead to bring prisoners from the village to the castle gates, where he had their eyes gouged out and their ears, noses and lips cut off, as a means of forcing a surrender upon the men defending the castles. His plan failed. It was not until the defeat of the fortress at Termes by the Crusaders in 1210 that the lords of Cabaret finally capitulated.
Enjoy watching Stage Ten; there’s plenty more to come this week, as we make our way toward the Alps. Until tomorrow — Vive le Tour!