It’s hard to believe that we’re in the final days of the Tour – and what an exciting few weeks it’s been! We’ve watched Tadej Pogacar assert his dominance of the mountains and the time trial; we’ve witnessed Mark Cavendish reconquer the green sprinters’ jersey; and we’ve been introduced to another young superstar, Danish cyclist Jonas Vingegaard.
So many stories, so many wines.
In a crossover of two of my favorite subjects – cycling and wine – I’ve invited David Stannard of Paradise Rescued, a certified organic niche producer of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, to pen a guest post. His vineyard lies on the race route for Stage 19, so who better to talk about our wine of the day?
Take it away, David . . .
The Tour de France concludes this Sunday, moving from the Pyrénées Mountains on the Spanish border, northeast toward Paris. On Friday, the peloton speeds across the flat landscape of the Landes region before arriving in the world wine capital of Bordeaux. Those of us who live in the “neighbourhood” will have the pleasure of watching as the riders cross the river Garonne in Cadillac, then pedal past vineyards on its way to the finish line in Libourne.
Here at Paradise Rescued, we will have a front-row seat: the race route goes right past our vineyards in Cardan! If you’re watching on TV, look for us at km 173 (or 33.6 km from the finish.)
Every region of France has its own unique beauty. And it is that breathtaking variety and wonder that have created a big part of the Tour’s global following. After all, the helicopter film crews get the best views of the race and the impressive local scenery. The final 55 km of Friday’s race will be in the Bordeaux vineyards, and its vines will be on camera for almost the entirety of that section of the race.
Some Background on Bordeaux
The words Bordeaux wine can be applied only to wine produced within the French Department of Gironde, whose capital is the city of Bordeaux. As a land mass, Gironde comprises 10,000 km2; of that, 11% (110,000 hectares) are dedicated to vines. Depending on the vintage, the region’s 5,500+ producers make about 500 million litres of wine per year.
Bordeaux is not only France’s largest wine region but is also the world’s biggest single and most concentrated vineyard area. It is home to many of the world’s greatest red wines and sweet dessert wines. In short it is a (very) big wine region on many levels. Whilst it includes many big wineries and world-renowned brand names, there are still plenty of small, specialised producers – 16% of the wineries have a vineyard area of less than 2 hectares.
Amongst them is Paradise Rescued – a one-hectare, certified organic niche producer in the village of Cardan, a small vineyard village halfway up the hill from Cadillac and Béguey to Targon. The race will pass through Cardan, less than a kilometre from Paradise Rescued before it turns left for Capian and then on to Créon.
The Unique Story of Paradise Rescued and Cabernet Franc
When faced with a tsunami of housing development in the village, Paradise Rescued was founded in 2010 with a sustainability mission to maintain the rural heritage of the village of Cardan and produce fine organic Bordeaux wine. Beginning under challenging circumstances with a single run-down Cabernet Franc vineyard, we initiated conversion to organic viticulture and winemaking. Our hard work paid off, resulting in the award of our first bronze medal for the 2010 full varietal Cloud9 Bordeaux Cabernet Franc.
Although Bordeaux is well known for its dry white wines and botrytised sweeter dessert wines, nearly 90% of all wine produced in the region is red. Less than 10% of that red wine production is Cabernet Franc although most people wouldn’t know it due to the dominance of Merlot (and to a lesser extent Cabernet Sauvignon) and the labelling system which typically does not record the grape composition in the final blend and bottle. That said, Bordeaux is such a large wine producer that it qualifies as one of the most significant Cabernet Franc regions in the world – tied for first place with its northerly neighbours in the Loire Valley.
But despite all that advantage, less than 10 producers in Bordeaux make a full-varietal Cabernet Franc. With just one vineyard block and no alternative options, Paradise Rescued has become a unique winery successfully producing and marketing its full varietal Cabernet Franc wines, since renamed under the B1ockOne brand name. More recently, we have added a Merlot vineyard as well and started sales of a second BlockTwo Merlot/CabFranc blend – one of the iconic St. Emilion-style Bordeaux blends.
Today Paradise Rescued has close to one hectare of vineyard under cultivation producing just 3,000 bottles per year of niche fruit-forward organic wines, which are exported across Europe, Australia, and the USA. The vineyard and winery are open to visitors across the summer months, providing tours, tastings, and organic wine master classes for our visitors.
We look forward to meeting you!
For information on winery visits and hosted tastings, please click here.