Tour de France - a twelve bottle set (Or split into 3)
The world's most famous bicycle race is about to get under way and it just so happens to be passing through some of the nations greatest wine regions. What better way to experience the race than by sipping your way through the scenery while the pro's do the cycling.
We've split this case over the three weeks of the tour which you can buy individually or the 12 bottle 'Yellow Jacket' will see you through the whole race from Bilbao to Paris via Bordeaux, Burgundy, The Alsace and more.
Grand Depart - Stage 1 - 6
This year the Grand Depart is in the 'autonomous region' (Tour de France's description, not ours...) of the Basque country for the first time since 1992 giving us the perfect excuse to kick things off with a bottle of txakoli. Stage 2 dips into Rioja Alavesa then we're into France and off to the foothills of the pyrenees.
Bengoetxe, Getariako Txakolina, Pais Vasco, Spain - Txakoli is one of the wine world’s most distinct and individual wines. From coastal, northern Spain it’s drunk by the litre in the pintxo bars of San Sebastián and is wonderfully food friendly. Most vineyards are very close to the coast and the wines often light, sparkly and teeth rattlingly acidic.
This wine is from vineyards further inland and is more complex, a bit fuller in flavour and less hard on the enamel while still having racy acidity. This gives it unusual ability to age. It’s fantastic now though too with oily fish - sardines or mackerel, especially with a bit of char from grilling - or with fresh, young, uncured cheese.
Luis Canas, Crianza, Rioja, Spain - Incredibly in the 1970’s it was extremely unusual for winemakers in Rioja Alavesa, a cooler, damper subregion of the Rioja area, up by the Sierra Cantabria, to bottle wines themselves rather than sell in bulk to other producers or merchants. Luis Canas was one of the first to do so and used to distribute himself too, heading up to Bilbao to sell direct to bars and restaurants. This innovative spirit has continued and the bodega is now recognised as one of Rioja’s premium producers. Luis Canas senior himself is now in his eighties but still rocks up for a glass and a few olives every lunchtime while his son, Juan Luis, focuses on producing fantastic quality fruit and not whacking it with excess oak ageing.
Jean-Bernard Larrieu, La Magendia, Lapeyre Jurancon, France. - 37.5cl - From the foothills north of the Pyrenees where cool nights, warm breezes and a long season make for a complex, balanced and aromatic white wines. In this case the grapes are left long on the vine to become super ripe but the natural acidity of the variety used is the perfect foil to the natural sweetness.Red wines:
Domaine Capmartin, Cosmique, Côtes de Gascogne, France - Simon at Domaine Capmartin has been mixing things up for over a decade, first going completely organic he is now on the road to biodynamic certification . His wines all follow the principles of low intervention with no added sulphates, wild ferments and all to create natural wines with low tannins, a change from other wines within the AOC.
After the grapes arrive at the winery and are destemmed then a period of cold maceration takes place before a wild ferment and the wines age for 6 months in stainless steel, temperature controlled tanks, this precise and careful fermentation results in low sulphates.
Bordeaux to Beaujolais - Stage 7 - 12
Chateau Lamery, Autrement de Lamery 2016, VdF, Bordeaux, France - Autrement means "in another way" which is very appropriate for this wine which is Bordeaux by origin but somewhat distant from most Bordeaux in spirit.
Jacques Broustet became part time winemaker at his small family property in Entre- Deux-Mers in the late 1990's after several different careers. In 2006 he moved permanently to the farm, abandoned all chemicals and converted the vineyard to biodynamics. There are very few natural wine makers in Bordeaux. Jacques is one of them.
Everything is harvested by hand, destemmed and fermented in cement using just the natural indigenous yeasts. Wines are then aged in old oak or cement with no racking, mixing or topping up. Each variety is vinified separately and the blend in the final wine varies according to vintage. Wines are made and bottled with zero additions.
Jacques calls his wines vins autrefois”, wines from the past, when Bordeaux was elegant.
Henri Bourgeois, Sancerre, La Vigne Blanche, Loire, France - The Famille Beorgeois have been growing vines in the village of Chavignol for 10 generations and it is their knowledge of the terroir and the grapes that has awarded them the title of Ambassadors of Sancerre and why their vineyard is listed in the top 50 vineyards of the world. This wine will age well and has excellent structure and mineral flavours that make it a classic.
Clos Saint Jean, Cote Roannaise Tradition, Loire, France - Joël Lapalue gave up his herd of unprofitable Charolais cattle, bought a smallholding named Combe and decided to become a wine maker, it wasn't long before his sons joined him, Richard and Frédéric.
Richard originally set out to be a banker but before joining his Father he was herding goats in Aveyron, once at Combe he invested in Lacaune goats and the domaine specialises in making fromage de Brebis, in addition the manure is used as organic fertiliser.
Frédéric is responsible for making this juicy Gamay. Originally a hairdresser he soon gave it up to join his father and brother. He operates under a different domaine name to his brother and works with Gamay and Chardonnay. These Gamay grapes are destemmed and are macerated for 4 days before fermentation occurs, using only wild yeasts fermentation takes place in cement and stainless steel tanks before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Frédéric holds these bottles back a year to age.
Even though Cote Roannaise is classed as being in the Loire valley it is so far south that it is in fact closer to Beaujolais and only Gamay grapes are used which is again more attuned to Beaujolais. Joël Lapalue was in fact the first organic farmer in the appellation and the only one until 2003.
Domaine Lapierre, Raisins Gaulois, Beaujolais, France, 2022 - There were a couple of crucibles of the natural wine revolution in France. One was the Loire valley centered on Nicolas Joly. Another was in Beaujolais, where Jules Chauvet, a fourth generation winemaker but also a chemist, took a critical view of what they were being encouraged to do in the vineyard and in the winery and decided that over-use of chemicals in both was bad for the environment and bad for the wine. Several other growers in Beaujolais followed M. Chauvet’s lead. Known as the Gang of Four, among them was Marcel Lapierre. Sadly he died quite young in 2010 but his wife Marie carried on the estate as well as farming her own Chateau Cambon and has now been joined by their son Mathieu and daughter Camille. ‘Raisin Gaulois’ is labelled Vin de France as it is mainly from vines around Morgon but with a little from outside so doesn’t fit a suitable Beaujolais appellation.
It is 100% Beaujo though, lovely, lively fruit, juicy, soft and ever so drinkable.
Mountain Climbs - Stage 13 - 21
Florie Brunet & Adrien Bariol farm 6 hectares across three distinct villages in Bugey, high in the Savoie region of Eastern France. "Au Replat" is made from local grape Mondeuse, Au Replat being the name of the vineyard, in the high altitude and sought after ‘Montagnieu’ zone of Bugey. This is one of their steepest vineyards with dense limestone, heavy white clay soils. This mondeuse, perhaps similar to cool climate Pinot Noir has a beautiful tension, with juicy dark fruit at its core, peppery notes and a light, lithe body. Perfect with the kind of food you would associate with Savoie - air dried meats, mountain cheeses, and forest mushrooms.
The Jura region of France is hilly, a bit damp, but beautiful. It's also the source of the countries most remarkable wines. Wines that are making it onto the best restaurant wine lists in the World.
Marie-Pierre Chevassu has produced this wine using the sous voile method which encourages a cultured yeast to form. This brings bags of soft creamy and floral flavours along with green fruits and a well rounded finish.
The Klur family of winemakers have worked the land in Katzenthal since the 17th century and now Clement and Francine Klur have created Vignoble Klur, a smaller holding (just 7 hectares) and a completely organic and biodynamic paradise. Steep vineyards which insists on considerate and selective growing and picking techniques are surrounded and dotted with fruit trees, the winery is a circular, packed earth and herb covered construction offering perfect chilled temperatures, you would think your in Hobbiton!
The Mignon Champagne house has been in the family for 5 generations and now Pierre and Yveline Mignon have perfected their products with the help of their children Celine and Jean- Charles. Jean-Charles is the tour de force behind the modernisation and standards of excellence, he wields his magic both in the vineyards and the winery. The winery is set in Le Breuil in the Marne Valley, however they have sights across Marne valley, Epernay and Cotes des Blancs, this allows them to hand pick their own grapes and control the finished wines.
Meticulous grape selection, refined settling techniques and rigorous fermentation controls allows them to filtrate less which means we are left with nothing but preserved aromas. Crisp, clean and vibrant notes as well as the brioche, yeasty and creamy finishes we expect from fine Champagnes, this does not disappoint.
This case contains one bottle of each of these wines. If any is out of stock or becomes unavailable it will be replaced by one of equal or greater value and deliciousness.
Photo by Robin at the Tour de France 2013