Stage 8 (Rennes to Mûr de Bretagne)
Stage 9 (Vannes to Plumelec – Team Time Trial)
This weekend the riders roam around Brittany, on the far west coast of France; then they head south toward the upper reaches of the Loire Valley. It’s seafood country here, with huge, multi-tiered platters of crustaceans and shellfish on order at nearly every café and bistro along the way. Add some crusty bread and a carafe of the local white wine and you’ve got a gourmand’s delight! In my mind, the best companion for Brittany’s stunning array of clams, oysters and other treasures from the sea is the Loire Valley white wine, Muscadet. It is dry, crisp, and clean, with mineral notes – the perfect foil to the seafood.
Muscadet is produced in the western reaches of the Loire Valley, concentrated in the area around Nantes. Melon de Bourgogne, a distant cousin of Chardonnay, is the native grape, and it’s hard to find plantings of it outside of western France. Traditionally, the best examples of Muscadet hail from a region called Sèvre-et-Maine, and they undergo an aging process called “sur lie” (a fancy way of saying the finished wine rests on the spent lees that are by-products of fermentation.) The result is a slightly richer and creamier texture. Labels clearly indicate whether a wine has undergone sur-lie aging, and which region produced it (see photo).
Perhaps the best thing about delicious Muscadet, besides its affinity for oysters, is its price. Loire Valley wines in general, are underappreciated in the market, meaning they can be amazing bargains. Try a glass this weekend, as you dig into some seafood and toast the riders along the way.
Vive le Tour!