Toast #TDF2017 with Wines from the Côtes de Gascogne (#winophiles)

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)

Welcome to the Pyrénées! #TDF2017 Heads to South West France

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”

Will the Tour be Won Today? #TDF2017 Stage 9 Moves from the Jura to the Alps

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:

Profile Map Stage 9 TDF2017
Glad I’m not riding this one! (Map: http://www.letour.com)

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”

From Burgundy to the Jura: #TDF2017 Heads to the Mountains on Stage Eight

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”

#TDF2017 Rolls Through Champagne: But That’s Not What We’re Drinking

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”

Tour de France by the Glass 2017 – Le Grand Départ!

It’s the first weekend in July and you know what that means – the Tour de France is back! Cycling is one of the Derv’s favorite sports and each year I anticipate its return the way a five-year-old awaits Christmas. Three weeks of (almost) daily drama played out over the perilous pathways of the Pyrénées – not to mention the Alps, Vosges, Jura, and Massif … Continue reading Tour de France by the Glass 2017 – Le Grand Départ!