Today the Tour begins its alpine swing traveling from Gap in the Hautes Alpes to Pinerolo on the Italian side with a few category 2 & 3 climbs and a category 1 over the Sestrieres at 2035 meters. Over the next several days the Tour will be decided in the Alps, with Alberto Contador flexing some muscle and giving the Schleck brothers, Claudel Evans and the other GC contenders something to worry about before a time trial in Grenoble and the final day in Paris on the Champs Elysee on Sunday.
The route runs a little south of the Alpine growing areas of the Savoie and Jura, but close enough to include a perfect tour sipper Cerdon de Bougey. Located in the foothills of the Alps about halfway between Lyon and Geneva, the vineyards are a patchwork of parcels facing southeast or southwest, interspersed with fields, pastures, grazing cattle and patches of forest. The wines of Bugey were produced as VDQS since 1958 and received full Appellation status in 2009.
Father and son team Alain and Elie Renardat-Fachet employ a technique called "ancestral method" for this incredible pink sparkler. Harvest is by hand, then the grapes are pressed and fermented in cold vats until the alcohol reaches about 6 degrees. The wine is lightly filtered with most of the active yeast left in the unfinished wine, it is then bottled and ferments in the bottle to about 7.5 or 8 degrees of alcohol, and a good amount of its original sugar. Fresh, fruity and sparkling, loaded with raspberry and strawberry notes, it is sweet but not cloying so. Perfect aperitif or after dinner, its natural low alcohol means you can have another glass on a warm summer day!
Down to Earth Wine is about what I love in the wine biz: small growers making honest wines that are the expression of the vineyards, grapes and people where they are made. It is about learning about why wines taste the way they do and delving beyond the numerical scores that have become a shorthand for knowledge. It's looking at wine from the ground up.
To me, the most amazing thing about wine is its ability capture and express the conditions of the time and place where they were grown. I find that in my 30 years involved with wine that the best wines are often the result of a philosophy of winemaking that believes that these natural influences should be the main story, creating wines with transparency, elegance, balance and finesse that allows the nature in the wine to shine though.
To help navigate the posts, they are categorized by type, and now include Vignettes: thoughts and musings on regions, travels, dinners and experiences; Cellar Defenders: favorite value wines; Vins de garde: Wine for the cellar; and Vins Vert, great organic, Biodynamic and naturally made wines.
Taste, travel, experiment, enjoy!