Tasting Your Way Through the Tour de France
Happy July! It's time to gear up for Independence Day and the Tour de France...and it's one of the best times of the year to drink good wine. If you don't know already, I love wine and I love cycling. As always, the Tour's 2,200 mile, three week race, gives us an easy excuse to feature some of our favorite French wines. I've written before about how much I love this time of year:
I love this time of year. The sun is out, flowers are in bloom, the new vintage of rosé is here for all to enjoy -- and the Tour de France rolls out on what also happens to be the birthday of our Country and my only son. Pro Cycling is a pretty cool sport if you're a wine enthusiast. Its three "Grand Tours" run through some of the world's greatest wine regions every year -- the Giro d'Italia (Italy), Vuelta a España (Spain) and the Tour de France. Whether you ride or not, Le Tour is thrilling to watch. The race itself is perhaps the most demanding athletic competition in the world, and the scenery is breathtaking. There are few things more visually stunning than seeing a Peloton of color gliding through miles of vineyard roads. It is inspiring in every respect, and it always makes me want to drink wine.
Keeping with tradition, we will be following the Tour closely with a series of tastings to explore France's unique regions. As always, the race itself rolls through some of France's most well-known wine appellations. The early days will see the riders glide through Épernay in the heart of Champagne (although they will probably wait until the ride into Paris to actually drink Champagne on the saddle), and through the Vosges Mountains just west of Alsace. Stage 10 brings the Peloton back to Maçon, the southernmost city in Burgundy, just north of the hills of Beaujolais. Maçon will be a stage town for the fifth time, and has hosted important time-trials in the past. Look for some excitement here! If only because we're going to use this opportunity to open some awesome wine. And don't forget to plan your Bastille Day festivities around the Stage 13 ride out of the Rhone Valley and into the Languedoc-Roussillon -- this is one the French riders really push hard to win.
For every appellation you've heard of in France, there are probably ten you didn't know existed (there are over 300 recognized appellations)! And so this is also a great opportunity to open some of our most oddball wines from France so you can get in touch with your inner wine-geek. This is going to be a fun few weeks! We kick it all off with some wines from Champagne and Alsace on June 29th between 5-7pm. Check out our Events Calendar as we update all of our Tour-themed tastings.
If you really want to go crazy, come up with some sort of Tour de France Wine Game. Here's a creative one we sort of borrowed from (randomly) the Phoenix New Times:
• Each time Phil Liggett says a rider is "reaching into his suitcase of courage", take a drink.
• Each time Paul Sherwen says "The elastic has snapped!", open a new bottle, fill everyone's glass and take a drink.
• Each time Liggett or Sherwen corrects the other on some incorrect fact or observation, take a drink.
• Each time Bob Roll says "Tour-Day-France", feel ashamed to be an American and take a drink.
• Each time Liggett or Sherwen remark on the riders taking a "nature break", go ahead and take one yourself.