And we’re off, the Tour de France starts in Copenhagen
OUR TOUR DE FRANCE MIXED CASE - 6 bottles
Le Tour Case is a case of 6 superb bottles of wine selected from regions visited by this year’s Tour de France. At Buon Vino, we have several passions alongside natural wine and one of them is cycle racing. We started talking about this in May with our Giro d’Italia mixed case which showcased some of the lesser-known wines regions of Italy which were visited by the Tour of Italy stage race. This proved a great success and we received lots of great feedback from our customers. We were somewhat surprised how much you enjoyed the link to cycling and the context for the wine selection. So now into July, the world’s biggest and most prestigious professional race, the Tour de France, is here.
France and its Wine…..
Although wine is now produced on every continent, the origins of great wine nearly always lead back to France. They are still number two in terms of annual production, with approx. 18% of all wine produced globally coming from within its borders. Italy is just ahead with 19%, they really do make a lot of Pinot Grigio and Prosecco! ‘Le Vin’ is probably the only word which every English speaker can say in French. When we think of the world’s most famous and expensive bottles, Chateau Lafite, Mouton Rothschild, Romanee Conti, they are all French. The most well-known grape varieties in the world which have become brands all have their origins in France. Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. These grapes, now planted all over the world, found their first home in the noble terroirs of The Loire, Burgundy, and Bordeaux. Almost every region of France has its own wine history, culture, and influence on the wider wine world. And every producer from every country who harbors the desire to produce a truly ‘Great Wine’ will likely be aiming for something close to a fine Burgundy.
For the natural wine lovers, France is also pretty much number one. Once again, the movement is likely to have started in France. Most people think it was in Beaujolais in the mid-80s. Although some super delicious natural wine is coming out of Italy, Spain, and the rest, for sheer number of amazing pioneering producers, diversity, creativity, and simply gorgeous bottles, we would still just about put the French ahead.
Wine and the Tour de France
Like the Giro, the Tour can’t really go anywhere without whizzing past the vineyards. However the links between wine and cycling are not as immediately obvious as in its near neighbour. The Giro is actively using wine to help connect the route to the fans, even referring to the stage in the Valtellina this year as the ‘Sforzato Wine Stage’. The tour by contrast is quieter about the link between its national cycle race and national drink. There seem to be fewer examples of riders who come from a wine producing background or who go into wine after their cycling career is over.
Wine and Cycling in France seem closer linked when looking back in history, specifically riders drinking the stuff during the race. Philippe Brunel’s iconic book, ‘An Intimate Portrait of the Tour de The Tour de France’ documents rider’s thirst for booze during the race in the early 20th century. In those days, stages were up to 400 km long, lasted over 15 hours and racers rode through the night, surviving on a heady mix of booze, amphetamines and insanity. Many of the top riders also smoked cigarettes! In the 1960s, the great Jacques Anquetil, 5 time French winner of the Tour was known to finish a mountain stage and sit down to a bottle of Champagne and lobster. Two time world champion and multi tour stage winner Freddy Meartens used to fill his ‘bidon’ (water bottle) with a mixture of vintage Champagne, glucose, caffeine and amphetamines and drank this ‘bomb’ in the last hour of the race when he was feeling good. He said the concoction made him ride like a rocket, I am not surprised!
Finally, the most tragic connection between racing and drinking is the legendary British rider Tom Simpson. He died of exhaustion on the slopes of the Mont Ventoux in 1967. Although there was no wine in his system, they found amphetamines and alcohol which contributed to him going well beyond his body’s limits. The booze was supposedly 3 large cognacs which he had drunk during the stage.
The Tour de France has always been extreme, there in lies its fascination and beauty.
This years Route and our Selection.
The route this year is surprisingly only skirting the main wine regions but our Le Tour Case plots the route nicely around France over 3 weeks. It starts in Copenhagen, not much wine produced there although plenty consumed as Denmark’s capital city is one of Europe’s number one destinations for natural wine bars and top restaurants. The route then pretty much skips the north west and the Loire, only skirts Champagne and Alsace before crossing the Jura and heading into the Switzerland and the Alps. There is no visit to Burgundy. But it does then head south through the Auvergne and Languedoc before going west through the Pyrenees. The race doesn’t go as far as Bordeaux but spends three days in the beautiful south west. It passes close to the Jurancon, Bergerac and Cahors wine regions. So despite missing some main regions in terms of wine, there is still plenty to get very excited about for our Le Tour Case. The race has prompted us to select some absolutely gorgeous natural wines to accompany it.
Le Tour Case – The Wines
STAGE 1 – Copenhagen Denmark, Natural Wine Hotspot –
La Poudre d’Escampettes Alain Castex 2020 (Iconic natural producer – the wines served at places like Noma)
STAGE 7 – Tomblaine – La Planche de Belle Filles, The Vosges Mountains overlooking Alsace –
STAGE 9 – Aigle – Chatel Les Portes du Soleil, Switzerland –
STAGE 15 – Rodez – Carcassonne, The Minervois –
STAGE 18 – Lourdes – Hautacam, Just south of Jurancon –
STAGE 19 – Castelnau Magnoac – Cahors, The Region of the Black Wine –
A case of 6 premium wines showcasing the purity and deliciousness of France’s natural wine. There are some Iconic producers in here, this truly is wine from its origins. We hope you enjoy drinking them while watching the race. If Le Tour Case 6 bottles isn’t enough for three weeks, (and it probably isn’t) take a look at the deluxe 12 bottle version. A votre sante!