For three weeks in July, blazing saddles will be cycling through the French countryside for the 101st Tour de France with climbs across some of France’s best wine regions.
And for the millions of spectators watching the competitors, toasting the stops along the way with a regional wine is the perfect opportunity to cheer on your favourite jersey.
When the riders make their way to Reims in the heart of Champagne, the sixth stage will certainly warrant the fizz factor. Ideally, plump for a vintage champagne such as Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Vintage Champagne 2005, France (£25, Sainsbury’s). A blend of 70 per cent chardonnay and 30 per cent pinot noir from premier cru and grand cru grapes, this is a really good quality, fruity and elegant champagne that’s keenly priced.
The Vintur winery is close to the base of Mont Ventoux (15th stage), one of the most challenging mountains in cycling, and Cuvee Le Gentleman 2011 AOC Ventoux, Domaine Vintur, France (£13.95, www.winedirect.co.uk) is named in honour of Bradley Wiggins and his sporting disposition. Made from old vine grenache, topped up with syrah (shiraz), mourvedre and carignan it’s rich, fruity, relatively high in alcohol (14.5 per cent abv) thanks to the sun-drenched slopes, and tastes utterly delicious.
Savoie sits at the foothills of the French Alps and is known for its invigorating sparkling wines – Corney & Barrow’s Sparkling Blanc de Blancs, Varichon & Clerc, NV, France (£12.50, www.corneyandbarrow.com) is a super example. Predominantly made from chenin blanc, the resulting crisp green apple flavours, balanced acidity and toasty notes are quite uplifting.