BUONVINO x TOUR DE FRANCE 2023

The why?

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 some what 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, and every year there are stages deliberately heading to the famous wine regions like Barolo or Valpolicella.  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, five 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.

As the 2023 Tour de France sets off from just beyond the border in the Spanish Basque Country, its third stage sees it journey into France, specifically the enticing south-western, Pyrenean region of Irouleguy. Here, the deep, robust Tannat blend, reflecting the hot, rugged landscape where it thrives, becomes our initial stop in our exploration of French wine. As the peloton proceeds northwards, the seventh stage of the race brings us to the Western region of Bordeaux, with an elegant, plummy biodynamic claret, crafted from 100% Merlot, chosen. 

As the cyclists course eastwards towards the heart of France, stage nine culminates in the dramatic volcanic region of Puy de Dome. Here, the focus shifts to the delightful Pink Bulles, a delectable, delicate sparkling Gamay. Its unique mineral quality perfectly complements a light berry-scented, floral palate. This wine's slightly ethereal quality stands in stark contrast to the fierce landscapes the racers must traverse.

Leaving the volcanic expanses of Auvergne behind, the tour ventures into the delightful landscapes of Beaujolais during stage 12. The cyclists' trail leads us directly through Morgon, the birthplace of the 2021 Morgon Thibault Ducroux. Overflowing with dark fruits, spice and granitic minerality, this natural Gamay brilliantly encapsulates the region

From stages 14 to 17, the daunting alpine segments unfold, juxtaposing with the cooling, delicate, and exquisitely refined Alpine wine by Domaine Giachino. Crafted from 100% Jacquere, this is a wine experience you won't want to miss. And, as the tour draws close to its grand finale in Paris, it passes through the breathtaking landscapes of Alsace. Here, we introduce the aromatic Pinot Blanc from Josmeyer, a wine that truly embodies the scenic beauty of the region.

As each stage of this prestigious race unfolds, we will be there, wine glass in hand, toasting both the tenacity of the athletes and the rich diversity of French viticulture!

Le Tour Case – The Wines

STAGE 1 – 3 THE BASQUE COUNTRY

Irouleguy Rouge Tradition Arretxea 2020

Located in the picturesque Basque region, Domaine Arretxea's vineyard is a gem, cradled by the Pyrenees Mountains and the Nive River. The Domaine Arretxea, translating to "stone house," thrives on terraced hillsides Biodynamically cultivated, it creates the Tradition cuvée, a blend of Tannat, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, handpicked and naturally fermented. Following a three-week maceration and an 18-month aging in concrete tanks, this wine will continue to evolve beautifully over a number of years.

STAGE 7 – Mont de Marsan – BORDEAUX

Duc de Nauves Chateau le Puy 2020

Biodynamically produced claret from the iconic Chateau Le Puy. Fruitier and and more straightforward than Le Puy's Grand Vin, yet utterly delectable. Aromas of spiced plums, clove, pine, green olive tapenade, and smoke give way to bright, tart concentrated fruit flavours, with a hint of liquorice and smooth tannins. The wine's maturation process, which includes destemming the grapes and a year-long aging period in concrete vats, further enhances its round plummy character.

STAGE 9 – THE AUVERGNE, Saint- Leonard-de- Noblat – Le Puy de Dome

Pink Bulles Pet Nat Domaine Maupertuis 2022

Pink Bulles Maupertuis

The Auvergne region is marked by diverse, rugged landscapes, influenced by volcanic soils. This biodynamic, sparkling rosé is crafted from 100% Gamay on mineral-rich soil from extinct volcanoes, lending a distinct quality to the delicate palate of florals and fresh strawberry. With just 11.5% alcohol content, it's perfect as an aperitif or paired with fresh fruit desserts, representing class and elegance.The wine is characterized by floral notes and fresh strawberry, balanced by a fresh vein of acidity.

STAGE 12 – Roanne – Belleville-en-BEAUJOLAIS

Morgon Thibaut Ducroux 2021

Located south of Burgundy, Beaujolais is distinguished by its varied landscape and terroir. Fresh winemaker Thibaut Ducroux crafts his renowned Morgon from 100% Gamay grapes. Exhibiting finely-tuned tannins, excellent structure, and balance, it promises to age gracefully. With just three years in the industry, Thibaut Ducroux is making a name for himself in the Beaujolais winemaking scene.

STAGES 13-17 – THE ALPS/SAVOIE 

Monfarina Jacquere Domaine Giachino 2021

For over two decades, Frédéric Giachino has expertly cultivated vineyards in his domain nestled within the Chartreuse Hills, employing organic and biodynamic techniques for the latter half of his tenure. His vines, grown along the limestone slopes of Mount Granier, including local grape Jacquere.

This natural wine presents as dry, clean, and mineral with a steely character. Bracing acidity harmonizes with fresh green fruit flavors, revealing delightful notes of green apple, gooseberry, and elderflower. It's cool and distinctly alpine, but with lots of elegant character.

STAGE 20 – THE VOSGES/ALSACE – Belfort – Le Markstein Fellering

Pinot Blanc Domaine Josmeyer 2022

Situated between the Vosges Mountains and the Rhine River, Alsace's diverse terroir results in wines with unique identity and complexity. Pinot Blanc Josmeyer Mise du Printemps, a natural, low-sulphur wine with a light, fresh profile. Its elegant bouquet reveals white flower and apple blossom scents, while the palate is richly fruited with a firm, racy finish.

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.  A votre sante!