Tour de France by the Glass 2020 Stage 18: More Mountains, More Problems – and Les Perles de Mont Blanc Sparkling Wine

I think Primoz Roglic might have sealed his victory on Wednesday: on the bicycle path to the Col de la Loze. After an entire day at the front of the peloton, Team Bahrain McLaren failed to launch their star, Mikel Landa, up in the overall standings. When the pedal hit the metal, Landa just didn’t have the legs.

So Team Jumbo-Visma took the reins, looking invincible as they powered Primoz Roglic up the two HC climbs. There were quite a few riders clinging to their coattails, namely Tadej Pogacar, Richie Porte, and Miguel-Angel Lopez. Lopez, whose nickname is Superman, proved worthy of that moniker as he left the best climbers in his dust to claim the stage win.

Lopez pushed himself into third place in the GC standings, just behind Roglic and Pogacar. Richie Porte and Adam Yates rounded out the top five, with Rigoberto Uran (third after Tuesday’s stage) dropping to sixth.

Pogacar seems poised to walk away from this year’s Tour with tropies aplenty: he’s firmly ensconced in the white jersey (for best rider under 25) and is likely to take home the polka-dotted climbers’ jersey too, if Roglic doesn’t manage to swipe it from him.

But what about yellow? Roglic looks unbeatable and has the team he needs to stay in the lead. And Pogacar seems to have so much energy, especially at the end of a horribly difficult stage. While faltering a bit today, it’s easy to imagine him coming back tomorrow with a last minute surprise. Should make for some excellent TV!

Stage Map

Thursday we return to the mountains for more punishment. The stage map resembles an upturned saw, with each tooth representing a leg-breaking ascent followed by a death-defying descent. We will watch the drama unfold amid the stunning backdrop of the Alps, something that’s sure to fire up our wanderlust.

I’ve got just the wine to indulge it.

Domaine Belluard Les Perles de Mont-Blanc

Wines maturing in concrete eggs at Domaine Belluard (winery photo)

Established in 1947, this estate is one of the only specialists in growing Gringet, a white grape rumored to have been brought to the area by bishops traveling from Cyprus. Once thought to be a member of the Savagnin family, recent DNA analysis has shown no genetic link.

Grown almost nowhere else in the world, Gringet is the star of the Ayse commune of the Savoie, where it was practically extinct before Domaine Belluard focused its efforts on propagating the variety. Of the 26 hectares of Gringet in existence, the estate farms 22 of them.

Dominique Belluard in the vineyards (winery photo)

Nestled between Geneva and the looming Mont-Blanc, Domaine Belluard is devoted to organic and biodynamic principles. Dominique Belluard, who took over the family estate in 1988, explains why these low-intervention methods align with his winegrowing philosophy: “because it is the only answer to the laws of the living.” If you’re interested in more details, click here.

Biodynamic preparations at the ready at Domaine Belluard (winery photo)

The vast majority of Belluard’s plantings are Gringet (95%), with Altesse (3%) and Mondeuse (2%) making up the rest.

NV Domaine Belluard Les Perles du Mont Blanc comes from a base wine made of 100% Gringet grown on south-facing slopes at 450 meters above sea level. Soils are chalky scree overlying morainic clay and limestone layers. Production is via the traditional method, with the second fermentation (producing the bubbles) occurring in the bottle that is ultimately sold. The wine remains on its fine lees for two years.

According to the producer, this sparkling wine is “as light and fresh as the mountain air.”

I could use a glass of that right about now.

Enjoy our second day in the high Alps!

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