Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Naked Vine Tour de...Wait, What? (Savoie)

I promised you sporadic coverage. You can't say I don't deliver on my promises.

When we left our pelotonic friends last, they were biking through the Rhone Valley before making the climb into the French and Swiss Alps. Before I started writing this little series, I was under the impression that the Tour de France was actually...well...a tour of France. Instead, if you check the map... can see that, after the riders finish tooling around over in the Alps, they catch a flight to Chantilly, from where they make the last ride into Paris.

I've had a busy few days, so I thought, "Hey, I should check in on where the riders are..." Of course, I discovered that today is the final stage of Le Tour, and as I'm writing this, the riders are in Stage 21, closing in on the Champs-Elysses.

That will not, however, stop me from giving you my last bottle of the Tour -- a white from the Savoie region, which is -- as you can see -- over on the eastern side of France, bordering both Switzerland and Italy. It's best known as a cheese-producing region, cows grazing in the valleys among the steep hillsides to which the vineyards often cling.

Savoie's mountainous, cool terrain supports largely indigenous grapes used primarily to make white wines. In the cool climate, most red grapes don't do well. The most widely grown grape is Jacquere, which produces a fairly crisp, citrusy, minerally white. The best known red grape is Mondeuse, but it can be difficult to find outside france.

As a representative from here, I chose the Domaine Labbé 2014 Abymes Vin de Savoie. (Abymes is the town nearest where the grapes are sourced.) I found green apple and lemon aromas on the nose. Those flavors are mirrored on the palate with a richer body than I expected. I expected a lighter, crisper drink, but the mouthfeel is somewhat honeyish for such an acidic, light wine. It finishes slightly tart, with a bit of lemon crème. Clocking in at 11% ABV with that sort of food-friendly flavor, this would be lovely for a picnic or other brunch-ish occasion.

Finally, we bid adieu to the newest Naked Vine sports hero Tejay Van Garderen, the highest-ranking U.S. finisher this year. Our hero has had a rough couple of years at the Tour. Last year, he was in third place going into Stage 17, when he had to abandon the ride because of illness. This year, he was in a solid position going into the Alps, but ran into some unfortunately difficulties and slipped down the roster. He finished the Tour 29th out of 174 finishers.

And with that, au revoir de Paris...

Thanks, Tejay. Good luck next year!

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