So it turned out the Tour organizers were having a little fun at my expense. I got a call early Sunday morning from the chief commissaire telling me my services as lead car driver wouldn’t be necessary. Rather, they’d decided my presence at the arrive was of the utmost importance, therefore suggesting that I head straight to the city, without delay, to prepare for the finish line festivities.
Just as I was putting the wetlands of North Jersey behind me and about to take the plunge into the darkness that precedes the reemergence into Manhattan, the second call came. This time the commissaire had deputized the job. "Monsieur McDuff, of course the race this year is not really coming to New York. We sincerely hope, though, that you'll still continue with your planned celebrations. Bon courage!"
Damn straight I wasn't turning back. There was a ride through the Jura, where Saturday's stage took place and Sunday's started, to commemorate. So, even with the lure of an appearance by the peloton off the docket, I headed to 67 Wine, where natural wine buyer Ben Wood had invited me to show off a few goodies symbolic of the weekend's stages.
For openers, we poured "L'Uva Arbosiana" from Pascal and Evelyne Clairet's Domaine de la Tournelle, brought into the US by Jenny & François. The non-vintage "L'Uva Arbosiana" (this batch is entirely from 2008 fruit) is a completely unsulfured cuvée of Ploussard that undergoes a 30-day-long carbonic maceration. A real eye-opener for the crowd in attendance, light and bright in color, crisp, firm and snappy in texture, ever fresh and just a tad smoky on the palate. Kind of like the first stiff climb after many days of riding the flat lands. Something bracing to open up the legs, lungs and mind.
A little downhill relief — cool breeze and easy rolling — came next, via a taste of the 2007 Arbois Chardonnay from Gérard Villet, part of the Savio Soares portfolio. Its telltale sponti, wild yeast aromas were followed up by fresh, crunch fruit and a cascade of minerality not unlike what you might expect to emerge from the springs flowing beneath Les Monts Jura, through which Sunday's stage traversed.
The 2004 L'Étoile Savagnin from Domaine de Montbourgeau (Rosenthal) rounded things out, a real sting in the tail, the final hors catégorie climb that no one quite knew was coming. All afternoon, it had people raising eyebrows and scratching their heads, trying to put a finger on what it reminded them of and, even more so, trying to decide just how they felt about it. Definitely polarizing juice, with its Manzanilla-like nose, piercing acidity, and stony, spicy, pungent palate attack.
Three delicious wines in honor of the first attack on the high mountains in this year's Tour.
Given that the day's events kept me from posting according to previously planned schedule, I'm going to break form and give a shout out to Sunday's winner. At this point, I'm guessing everyone that's following the race has seen it, read it or heard it. If I'm wrong, though, and you're the one that still doesn't know, then quick, close your eyes.
(Photo courtesty of Fotoreporter Sirotti.)
While the field sprints of the flat stages may provide adrenalin-pumping excitement and there's certainly been no shortage of drama in the first week of this year's Tour, it's always the mountains, at least for this fan of La Grande Boucle, that bring the fireworks. And we're just getting started....
Up next: A rest day recap perhaps, then it's into the high Alps of the Haute-Savoie we go.