I can’t believe the 2017 Tour de France is almost over – just three days to go until Paris and the final podium placements. And what an exciting three weeks it has been! Think about all that’s happened so far:
In Stage 1, several riders abandoned the Tour after crashing into the spectator barricades;
In Stage 4, Peter Sagan, the Tour’s five-time sprint champion was expelled from the race after a dust-up with Mark Cavendish in the final meters (see video below);
Italian champion Fabio Aru blew away all the rest of the climbers in the first mountain stage;
Perilous mountain descents in rainy conditions caused multiple accidents, forcing Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte (an overall contender) to abandon;
After winning five stages, super-sprinter Marcel Kittel abandoned on Stage 17 after a crash.
But while the competitive battles have certainly caught our attention, it’s the enchanting countryside of France that has captured our hearts. Every day the peloton cycles through a different region, each one alive with history, culture and, best of all, winemaking. Since 2015 I have followed the Tour from a wine lover’s perspective, offering snippets of interest from each town on the circuit, highlighting the local wines and cuisine. Tour de France by the Glass is a labor of love, bringing together as it does three things I adore: cycling, wine, and the stunning scenery of France. Continue reading “It’s the Last Week of #TDF2017: Pour Some Rosé and Get Ready for the Drama!”
Stages 12-14 send the peloton scurrying around South West France, a large swath of forests interspersed with vineyards and farms. Its quiet, rural landscape runs from the Pyrénées Mountains in the south, up the Atlantic coast to Bordeaux. As you can imagine, many styles of wine are produced here, most from grapes native to the area. Which brings us to the only challenge in tasting … Continue reading Toast #TDF2017 with Wines from the Côtes de Gascogne (#winophiles)
Stage 11 will be the sprinters’ last hurrah for a few days, so expect them to race for glory before they slink to the back of the peloton tomorrow. Can Marcel Kittel continue his dominance for one more day? After watching him come from nowhere to win Stage 10 – with clean wheels – I sure wouldn’t bet against him! Even the commentators lamented his position far off the front group, saying he had waited too long accelerate. Yeah, right. My prediction: Marcel Kittel wins again, then hides out in the Pyrénées for a few days before vanquishing the other sprinters at the next designated sprint line. Continue reading “Welcome to the Pyrénées! #TDF2017 Heads to South West France”
Saturday’s race saw a young French rider, Lilian Calmejane, win his first stage in the Tour de France. I was on the edge of my seat watching him climb those last few kilometers, fighting his legs as they cramped up and threatened to quit. When he crossed the finish line 30 seconds ahead of his closest competitor, it seemed as if all of France rejoiced! But that’s nothing compared to what race organizers have planned for Sunday. Check out the profile map:
In all my years following the Tour, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a stage with three HC climbs. In case you’re not familiar with cycling lingo, the hardest climbs are assigned a rating, with 4 being the “easiest,” 3 a bit harder; 2 harder still, and 1 among the most difficult. But then there is that last tier: Hors Catégorie (HC), or uncategorized, for ascents that are so tough they can’t be compared with the others. Continue reading “Will the Tour be Won Today? #TDF2017 Stage 9 Moves from the Jura to the Alps”
On Saturday we head east from the Côte d’Or, presenting an opportunity to visit some lesser-known wine regions and taste wines that are off the beaten path. Today’s stage puts us squarely within the Vins du Bugey appellation, in the southern Jura Mountains, which received its AOC approval back in 2009. While official status was conferred only seven years ago, this area has been making wine since medieval times, and was once classified as part of Burgundy. It held a fairly important role in wine production at that time, especially impressive given its relatively small size (just over 1,200 acres.) Still a small fish in the large pond of French wine-making, Bugey puts out only four million bottles per year, most of which is consumed locally. But that is starting to change. Continue reading “From Burgundy to the Jura: #TDF2017 Heads to the Mountains on Stage Eight”
A few years ago, it was a stage like this one that inspired me to create Tour de France by the Glass, a wine lover’s companion to the three-week race. Day after day, the peloton pedaled through some of the world’s most famous vineyards, and I thought, I can’t be the only person interested in both cycling and wine. Not to mention the fascinating history, culture, and cuisine unique to each village along the way. Someone ought to write about that! So I did. And here I am, three years later, still relishing every minute of the best sporting event in the world.
Tour organizers change the route each year and, to be honest, that means some years lend themselves to wine exploration better than others do. The layout of the 2017 Tour is a wine-lover’s dream! Already we’ve skirted around the vineyards of Alsace and plowed right through the esteemed acreage of Champagne – and it’s only the first week. Continue reading “Burgundy Beckons on Stage 7 #TDF2017”
If you’ve followed the first four days of the Tour de France, which kicked off Saturday, you’ve already witnessed enough drama for three entire weeks. In Stage One, wet road conditions and unyielding metal crowd barriers conspired to send two riders to the hospital and, the next day, out of the Tour. Stage Two seemed positively mild in comparison, giving German sprinter Marcel Kittel a pleasant moment in the sun. On the third day, fan favorite Peter Sagan worked his magic to out-pedal all the others on a tricky uphill finish. But none of that is unusual in the Tour; it rains, people crash, the favorites show up and win. And then we got to Stage Four. Continue reading “#TDF2017 Rolls Through Champagne: But That’s Not What We’re Drinking”